This year I was determined to get a good family photo while on vacation. We would all be together, and with the beautiful landscape we'd be encountering, I couldn't pass it up. Full disclosure: I got my sister-in-law Mia Harper to take the ones I'm in (so I obviously didn't take them myself) and she did an AMAZING job. However, I had planned for something completely different, and learned a couple of lessons to share.
Don't force it when the conditions aren't right. I was really looking forward to a shoot while we were out camping. I had the most epic location with beautiful rock formations picked out, where we could just climb barefoot on some granite boulders and really lean into the Idaho scenery. I packed all of our outfits, but when we camped, it was 50 degrees with strong winds. My family had fun, but by the evening we were huddled around a campfire and hadn't taken our winter coats off all day. I decided to push off the session. As much as I wanted those views, it wouldn't have been worth ruining everyone's night by making them freeze, and if kids are in a bad mood for pictures, it makes things really difficult. We ended up doing them a couple day's later at my husband's aunt's house, and although the landscape wasn't the same, I am really glad I made the decision to do it when we could be more comfortable.
Wardrobe matters, a LOT, but it can be simple. I spent a lot of time planning what we would wear, getting colors, patterns, and textures that would work together. It made a huge difference. At the same time, I used mostly clothes we already had, and I opted for a more casual look this year. My original plan had been to take these while camping and I just couldn't imagine putting on a huge dress in the middle of a campsite. In the end, the colors and fabrics were important, but the wardrobe still reflected who we are without looking too fancy. The only thing I would have changed were the shoes-- we didn't have room to pack different shoes and we couldn't go barefoot like I had imagined. Oh well!