Everyone wants to take great pictures of their families, but it doesn’t always turn out as good as we want it to be! A few simple tips can make a big difference in how your photos will turn out and how happy everyone will be with the results.

It gets tricky when a family includes small children! The photographer, usually Mom or Dad, is often shooting a moving target. So think about how you can work with the wiggles. Maybe you would like them all to look at the camera, but this is not always realistic. So here are five tips to get you started having fun with your family photos.

1. Think about some creative poses before you pick up the camera and gather the family. Make a list of poses that you want to try. If one pose doesn’t turn out great, move on to another. One of them will eventually be a winner!

2. Choose some poses that are natural for your family. Do your little ones look like angels when they are hugging each other? Does your son love to hold his teddy bear? Does your daughter dance around the house wearing her ballerina costume? Does your family enjoy playing board games? Do you hold hands and take walks in the woods? Think about what your family is natural at doing and focus on that.

3. Use natural light in natural surroundings. Go outside in the yard and down the street to the park or hiking trail. Take advantage of the trees, grass, sky and flowers this time of the year. Use them as props and pose the family among them.

4. Coordinate colors, but don’t have everyone wear matching outfits. This looks stuffy and outdated. Go with clothing that everyone is comfortable in and natural smiles will ensue.

5. Bring in the family pet. The family dog or cat is likely to create a natural focal point for your subjects and keep the poses fluid and organic.

Be prepared to move with your subjects and catch the looks of delight, amusement, and thoughtfulness on their faces. Someday you will look back with pleasure on the photographs that you have taken with just a little bit of preparation and lots of joy and laughter.