This is one of the best times to capture new photos of your family, but it is often easier said than done. Not everyone loves to be in front of the camera, kids just want to play, and more often than not, someone in the group has very high expectations. These factors can all make family photo time a less than pleasurable experience.

Here are some top tips to ensure everyone has a good time and you get the photos you are hoping for.

Make It Fun

More family members are willing to participate when a family photo session doesn’t come across as too serious. Make the day about having fun and spending time together, not capturing the perfect photos. Plus, photos are easy to fit into the day if you approach it correctly. Does the family always drink cocoa around the tree? Get everyone to pose for a quick group shot before you sit down. Better yet, capture a candid shot of everyone sitting around the tree instead

Respect People’s Wishes

Sometimes, people just don’t want their photos taken, especially kids. You have to let them be as they are. It’s important to respect this if you want to maintain peace during the holiday season. If it’s your children who don’t want their photos taken, respecting their wishes will help gain their trust, making it easier to ask for photos later in the day or on another day

Choose Your Location Wisely

Your family should feel comfortable during any photo session, so choose your location wisely. If you won’t be taking photos at home, choose a location that will allow everyone to stay engaged and relaxed. Consider the lighting when choosing a location for your family session as this can make a big difference the end result.

Prep Your Family

Not everyone in your family has necessarily been involved in a shoot before, so it helps to prepare them. You will, once again, need to find that balance between keeping it light-hearted and ensuring they know what to expect. Tell them more about the activities you have planned and what they should and shouldn’t wear. Your outfits don’t need to match but they should ideally be coordinated. Knowing a bit about what to expect can help participants feel more relaxed.

Let Everyone Be Themselves

Your family photos should highlight everyone’s unique personalities. Remember, you are not working with models, so temper your expectations. Allowing everyone to be themselves results in genuine shots verses all posted and forced shots.

Get Them Involved

One way to get family members excited about a photo session is to get them involved in the creative process. Let them have a say in when or where you take photos and what you should wear. When the shoot becomes a group effort, it feels less forced.

Include Everyone

Nobody wants to feel left out, so you may want to plan your shoots out in advance. Taking a shot of grandma and all the grandchildren? Don’t forget to take the same shot with grandpa. It’s especially important that all children feel like they were equally included to avoid issues after the session. The above tips can be used regardless of whether you are hiring a professional photographer or using your smartphone or DSLR to capture some photos. There are very few times in the year when most family members are in the same place, so take advantage.