How To Take Family Photos That Are Not Cheesy

I’m writing this because a few people have made the comment to me that they want to take family photos but they don’t want them to be cheesy.

They don’t want their photos to look like every other photo they receive in the mail during the holidays that have a family smiling at the camera wearing all white.

There is a reason a lot of people choose to wear white.

  1. It looks good on almost everyone.
  2. It’s easy and doesn’t take much creativity.
  3. It’s safe.

See, I love wearing white.

Everyone has different taste.

What constitutes a cheesy photo for one person may not for the other.

I honestly have both sides: Nerdy-cheesy-theme-park-loving me, and Hipster-cool-lives-in-Venice me. As a photographer providing service, I’m happy as long as I give my clients photos that they love.

If traditional family photos are not your jam, there are specific ways to make them less cheesy.

Here are my tips:

*For examples, I’m using photos of a shoot my best friend & I did as a joke to be cheesy, though the funny thing is, cheesy can sometimes also look good – it really is a fine line. To see more photos from our shoot, click here

1. Do not wear all white, white with khakis, or white with jeans.

2. Do not wear matching outfits.

3. Do not take the photos in a field or in a garden setting.

To make family photos less cheesy:

1. Instead of exactly matching, wear colors that compliment each other.

2. Choose a location that is clean and less whimsical.

This could be in an alley, in front of a sleek wall, or with modern furniture pieces. Beaches on a cloudy day can also look “cooler.”

Think calm and moody instead of sunburst happy.

3. Document instead of overly posing.

When I say document, this isn’t “look at each other and fake laugh.”

There is a fine line between purely emotional photos and Celine-Dion-sentimental-stand-on-the-edge-of-a-boat-while-singing-a-ballad cheese (though I love me some Titanic).

Hire a photographer who can capture authentic emotion.

4. Wear black.

Black is an easy way to create a refined, “cooler” vibe.


None of this really fucking matters. If you have a family photo and like it, that is enough.

There is no need to overthink to make your pictures better or different from the rest.

Planning it out should be fun. The moment it stops being fun and starts getting stressful is when you know you need to take a step back.

Enjoy time with your family. That will make the best memories.

On that note, consider hiring a photographer to document a vacation or outing instead of planning a posed portrait session. The memories are more meaningful, and you can see an example of a shoot I did like that here.

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