Family Pictures with Young Children: Not for the Faint of Heart

Family pictures are the pits- The Champagne Supernova blog |

Does anyone have any xanax I can borrow? Asking for a friend.

There are worse things in life than taking family pictures with young children.

Accidentally hitting someone with your car and killing them.

Biting into a large piece of gristle when you’re eating steak.

Stepping on a tack with your bare foot.

That’s about it.

Of course, it’s much easier if you hire a photographer like Aida Llanos Family Photographer to take your family pictures because they have the experience to be able to take good pictures AND keep the kids smiling! But sometimes you feel like you’re all looking nice and want to capture the moment forever!

From a “big picture” perspective, I know that sucking it up and taking the family photographs will result in a handful of beautiful pictures that will be cherished for a lifetime.

And when I say handful, you better believe I mean we are fortunate to receive three decent pictures out of twelve thousand terrible ones.

I have friends with young children who had to literally re-take family photographs after their honest photographers confessed he or she didn’t receive even one good shot during the photo session.

However, there is a part of me that puts that down to them not hiring somewhere like this Los Angeles Baby Photography agency to do their photographs in the first place, but I also know how hard it can be to make children, or babies for that matter, sit still for a photoshoot.

And in the age of Photoshop, Afterlight, and VSCO Cam, that’s pretty bad. But believable. Because photographing young children is one of the hardest things on the planet. Even armed with fancy photo editing tools and applications, photographers are only as good as their subjects.

Then comes the pressure to jump online and order holiday cards the weekend immediately after Thanksgiving “because that’s when all the good deals are, and you have a coupon code that expires on Sunday, Goshdarnit!”

And so you order a couple hundred cards to mail to all of your close friends acquaintances.

Then you freak out as soon as you push the “confirm order” button on your computer, because you realize you chose the “Merry Christmas” card option instead of the “Happy Holidays” one, and you don’t want to insult your buddies who celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Diwali.

So you seek validation that you made the right choice from your husband.

And he reminds you that anyone who legitimately gets offended by your card can be removed from next year’s list and, therefore, you’ll save $3.


According to our friends at Hallmark, in 1843, Englishman Henry Cole came up with the idea of sending Christmas cards. Too busy to hand write personal greetings, he hired London artist, John Calcott Horsley, to design something he could send to his friends. German immigrant, Louis Prang, is known for bringing the Christmas card concept to the United States. In 1875, he printed a card that showed Killarney roses and the words “Merry Christmas.”

Family pictures are the pits- The Champagne Supernova blog |

Early Christmas Card- L. Prang & Co.

Americans purchase roughly 6.5 billion greeting cards each year. Annual retail sales are estimated between $7 and $8 billion. Christmas cards account for 1.6 billion units of this figure, which includes cards in boxed sets.

That’s a lotta cards.

With regard to our personal holiday picture experience, in an effort to be proactive, we had our family pictures taken while we were vacationing in Boca Grande, Florida.

I envisioned the pictures would be perfect and we would look like a family straight out of a J. Crew catalogue.

In reality, most of the pictures that “didn’t make the Christmas card cut” look like they came out of a pamphlet for “How to Spot Tortured Children” provided by the Department of Children and Families.

Like this one:

Family pictures are the pits- The Champagne Supernova blog |

And this one:

Family pictures are the pits- The Champagne Supernova blog |

Some call it hugging. Others call it a choke hold.

We also received “cuts” of our children doing goofy things out of boredom, like this one:

Family pictures are the pits- The Champagne Supernova blog |

Need to see it closer? Got ya covered:

Family pictures are the pits- The Champagne Supernova blog |

To describe taking family pictures as “stressful” is an understatement. A huge one.

First of all, getting everyone out of the house and looking presentable is a struggle. Our clothes needed to be ironed, my hair needed to be blow dried, and the girls needed to be fed. What was initially a 7pm start time with the photographer ended up being 8pm because my time management, coupled with the unpredictability of children, stinks.

Just as we’re ready to leave the house: “Mom, I have to go potty!”

Another mistake was attempting to take outdoor pictures in Florida in July, where being outside in the afternoon feels like walking into the epicenter of Hell.

My makeup was melting off my face. I was terrified of getting sweat stains on my dress. The girls needed to be hooked up to an IV of cherry Slurpees to maintain their charismatic personalities until the photo shoot was over.

Worst of all, after ten minutes in the humidity, my blown-out hair looked like something out of a 1980s Tina Turner music video.

Another struggle was getting all four of us to simultaneously look at the camera and smile. By the time the kids were both looking at the lens, I wasn’t looking. Or I was staring at the ground. Or making that hideous face I subconsciously make when I’m stressed out.

Family pictures are the pits- The Champagne Supernova blog |

Hey guys… look at the camera!

amily pictures are the pits- The Champagne Supernova blog |

It’s all fun and games until someone is picking their nose on camera…

Family pictures are the pits- The Champagne Supernova blog |

… or completely freaking out.

We were grateful to get one good shot of us standing on the famous Banyan Street, even though Arden has a look on her face like The Spanker Man is standing behind the photographer.

Gotta take what you can get.

Family pictures are the pits- The Champagne Supernova blog |

Complaints aside, I have a confession.

I love getting the mail in December.

I love rushing home from work to open my mailbox and receiving cards with my friends’ beautiful faces. I love seeing pictures of my cousins, who were my first true friends, showcasing their growing families. I love reading the funny anecdotes, stories about adopted pets, children starting school, and news of friends starting fresh chapters in different cities. I love holiday cards that double as birth announcements.

I love it, I love it, I love it.

Below is the final Christmas card product. It didn’t turn out perfect, but we aren’t perfect, so the East Brunswick family pictures were a perfect choice for us.

Special thanks to Synthia at Synthia Therese Photography for her talent, patience, and sense of humor. You are a treasure to our family!

I wish all of you a wonderful holiday season and hope it involves massive amounts of love, family togetherness, peace, memories, chocolates, cheese trays, nut rolls, fruit cakes, and champagne.

Lots of champagne.


Family pictures are the pits- The Champagne Supernova blog |


    34 Comments on Family Pictures with Young Children: Not for the Faint of Heart

    1. Aurelie
      June 14, 2017 at 5:25 pm (5 years ago)

      I laughed out loud at “got you covered” for the close up. We don’t really do Christmas cards if France so I never really got to experience this. You made me want to give it a shot ;).

      • jenniferdaku
        June 15, 2017 at 1:47 pm (5 years ago)

        Yay! Glad you’re doing it!

    2. Jaclyn
      June 11, 2017 at 8:41 pm (5 years ago)

      Hahahahaha! This is hilarious! Everything is spot on. I laugh so I don’t cry. I have three girls and generally, I don’t care what they wear, except when we take pictures. They can dress crazy every other day of the year, but when we are paying for pictures, I get a big say in what they wear. And they know it.

    3. Barbara
      December 30, 2015 at 4:15 pm (7 years ago)

      I worked as a photographer at Sears all through college. If you think it’s hard on the parents, try being the photographer! 🙂

    4. Chelsea
      December 26, 2015 at 3:48 am (7 years ago)

      I love all your pictures! They may not be perfect but they’re real, and your family is gorgeous!

    5. Sarah Eliza
      December 26, 2015 at 3:03 am (7 years ago)

      This is hilarious, and yall are adorable.

      Merry Christmas! 🙂

    6. Melissa
      December 25, 2015 at 9:53 am (7 years ago)

      You had me cracking up the entire time! Your hair looks great- not like Tina Turner btw. Its so hard to get a good shot- this year it torrentially down poured right as we started ours. So thats what we went with :O I am so glad we aren’t alone. Beautiful family!

    7. Aarika
      December 24, 2015 at 5:54 pm (7 years ago)

      Your post is the best! I seriously laughed so hard at both your descriptions AND the pictures. I just finished scrolling through a set of pics my brother sent me of my nephew making “duck” faces in every single family photo. haha. Great post!

    8. Claire
      December 24, 2015 at 8:47 am (7 years ago)

      It’s the hardest thing! I think one important thing to keep in mind is finding a photographer who knows how to head swap haha!

    9. Jessica Birgeneau
      December 24, 2015 at 3:14 am (7 years ago)

      I love all your pictures,weird faces and all 🙂 I guess you just have to take a ton and eventually you will get a card worthy one lol.

    10. Mama Munchkin (@globalmunchkins)
      December 24, 2015 at 12:40 am (7 years ago)

      It is the WORST! I have 5 kids and for awhile it got better bc the older 4 were all above 6 years old… then I had the great idea to start over and adopt a baby. So, this year said baby is now 2 so she was a complete tyrant the entire photo shoot. So, I did like any good mom and put one nice shot (since thats all I got) on the front and lots of shots of us torturing the two year old by taking pictures across the back #KeepinItReal

    11. Sue Allen
      December 24, 2015 at 12:36 am (7 years ago)

      I love getting Christmas cards in December too. Definitely my fav fav! And to be completely honest…sometimes I wish everyone didn’t look so perfect. We started sendng out blooper cards instead. Merry Christmas!

    12. Kristin
      December 23, 2015 at 4:29 pm (7 years ago)

      HAHAHA As someone who does family photos, I can totally understand the stress! These are amazing.

    13. Lisa
      December 23, 2015 at 4:12 pm (7 years ago)

      I didn’t even bother with family pictures. I caught a candid moment of my toddler trying to decorate the tree, snapped a pic, and put it on a card. Boom. Done.

    14. Ashley
      December 23, 2015 at 1:57 pm (7 years ago)

      Love this!!! Family photos are torture, but I too love receiving holiday cards. Thanks for always making me laugh!!

    15. Becky @ Disney in your Day
      December 23, 2015 at 1:19 pm (7 years ago)

      Haha I’m sure it was frustrating at the time but some of those “bad” shots really cracked me up! And your final pick is adorable, I love it. Thanks for sharing!

    16. Cianna / La Mode365
      December 23, 2015 at 12:27 pm (7 years ago)

      This is wonderful! I truly love how you embraced how hard it is! 🙂 I think some of these would be hilarious to receive from a friend! – Cianna (

    17. Karin Rambo
      December 23, 2015 at 12:08 pm (7 years ago)

      Hilarious! And it’s so true! The older my daughter gets the harder it is to get her to sit still for a photo. I mean, why would she when she could be exploring?!

    18. Marie
      December 23, 2015 at 11:16 am (7 years ago)

      I love it! We have absolutely been one of those families that got 0 good pictures! It can be frustrating at the time but now I look back and laugh at the crazy shots we did get.

    19. Joanae "Naetorious" King
      December 23, 2015 at 11:04 am (7 years ago)

      This was hilarious! It doesn’t really get much better. The teens hate pictures and would rather be texting. Lol!

    20. kristen
      December 23, 2015 at 11:01 am (7 years ago)

      oh my gosh this is so hilarious! I think your pictures are so cute!!

    21. Heather with WELLFITandFED
      December 23, 2015 at 10:37 am (7 years ago)

      This is hilarious! I love the “wanna see it closer?” shot!

    22. Julie
      December 23, 2015 at 10:16 am (7 years ago)

      I am still laughing. And you picked the best pic! The BEST one! It is you guys! Merry Christmas and thanks for all your blog posts this year. They truly are spot on and hilarious. I am looking forward to your 2016 ‘life experiences’. Cheers!!!!!

    23. Julie
      December 23, 2015 at 5:49 am (7 years ago)

      Hilarious! Your cards turned around great and these outtakes make for the best memories. Merry Christmas friend 🙂

    24. Emily
      December 23, 2015 at 2:34 am (7 years ago)

      Totally hear you on this. We had ours last week and meltdowns and a non-sleepy newborn (what, he always sleeps) made for three hours of FUN. Always worth it though!

    25. Emily
      December 22, 2015 at 10:32 pm (7 years ago)

      I love your Christmas card and the outtakes should also be framed. This is probably why I paid for family photos when B was two and still haven’t scheduled the photographer to actually come take said photos a year later!

      • jenniferdaku
        December 22, 2015 at 10:36 pm (7 years ago)

        Here’s a tip: hope for the worst and expect the best. It’s painful, but I remember it’s fleeting and the final product will be worth it.

    26. Leslie
      December 22, 2015 at 10:32 pm (7 years ago)

      This was great! Very entertaining! Your card choice meant a lot, xoxo cheers

      • jenniferdaku
        December 22, 2015 at 10:36 pm (7 years ago)

        Thanks for giving me the courage to go with the imperfect picture, Leslie. xo

    27. Laura
      December 22, 2015 at 10:09 pm (7 years ago)

      Your blog is great! Although I’m older and don’t have kids, somehow I can really relate! Keep up the wonderful posts! LOVED this one! And think your Christmas card photo was really awesome! Merry Christmas!

      • jenniferdaku
        December 22, 2015 at 10:35 pm (7 years ago)

        Thanks Laura, I really appreciate it. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas.

    28. Julie bedford
      December 22, 2015 at 9:40 pm (7 years ago)

      This might be my favorite post ever!

      • jenniferdaku
        December 22, 2015 at 10:35 pm (7 years ago)

        Coming from you, this is everything. It’s like having Cindy Crawford tell me I’m hot. Or Ernest Hemingway tell me I’m a good writer. Or Vidal Sasson complimenting my hair. Thanks Julie, and Cheers! xo