Large Family Photos

Large Family Photos - they can be stressful, comical, and downright crazy !  How to get a large family photo you love! |

You’ve decided it is time to get all of your children in one photo, dressed in matching clothes, looking the same direction and smiling.

Good luck with that.

Large family photos aren’t just an exercise in patience and perseverance, they tend toward insanity on a whole new level.  (Herding cats ring a bell? )  It’s time to find a better way!  This post isn’t your typical “what to wear” or “be sure you feed them beforehand” advice.  It’s full of fresh outside-the-box ideas to fit your fun outside-the-box family!

Click here to learn more about the photography bundle sale going on right now!

First, let me address the million dollar question –

Should you hire a professional photographer?

Large Family Photos - they can be stressful, comical, and downright crazy!  How to get a large family photo you love! |

The photo above was taken by our bank as a free print (with the option to buy a whole package).  We chose to take our free print and run (thank you very much).  But, I use this photo as an example to help you make a wise decision about what kind of professional photographer to use and if it truly is necessary for your family.

I’m happy we got this photo.  I spent a lot of time choosing clothing and trying not to look fat 2 months after giving birth to our 7th child.  Notice, not everyone is smiling in the photo, and our usually bubbly little girl has a weird look on her face.  Oh, and notice the toddler?  Terrified comes to mind.

Choosing to go with a professional photographer has it’s pros and cons, especially if you are choosing someone who either doesn’t know your family or someone who is in a hurry.  This photographer needed to take the photo in our time slot and move on.  He didn’t know us, and it showed.  It’s also a very “stock” photo with a boring background and the usual “family pose” – ramped up to fit our family size.

Not all professional photos are like this (and some would argue this doesn’t even count as a “professional” photo), but the more frills you want, the more it is going to cost you.  If you have a family friend who does professional photos, then by all means, go for it.  But if you don’t, don’t worry that you will never have anything decent to share with grandparents and friends.  There are ways of getting great shots that are share-worthy!
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How to get great photos of your large family

My first suggestion is to let go of the notion of the average family photo.  I’m going to talk more about this in a moment, but some of my favorite photos of our family would fall into the category of “Lifestyle” photography.  They are shots of us living life, acting naturally, and showing much more of our individual personalities than a stock photo could ever manage.

So, now that you are ready to think outside the box…

Idea #1:  Grouping method

Large Family Photos - how to get the best shots, make the most of your time, and not break the bank |

Rather than trying to get ALL of the children in one shot, try grouping a few together at a time to get nice photos that really show their personalities.

Large Family Photos - how to get the best shots, make the most of your time, and not break the bank |

Idea #2:  Lifestyle Photos

As I mentioned above, these are my favorites, and they are super popular right now!  Simply put, these are photos of your family living life.  They are candid shots that cannot be duplicated, thus making them signature pieces unique to your family.

Large Family Photos - how to get the best shots, make the most of your time, and not break the bank |

Lifestyle photos are particularly beautiful done in black and white, and lend themselves to being used as “art” around your home.

ty and amy

Idea #3:  Take advantage of holidays and special outings

Large Family Photos - how to get the best shots, make the most of your time, and not break the bank |

Typically, when we go out for field trips, vacations, or holidays, the kids are dressed in outfits that either match or are well put together (don’t ask me to do this any other day, please!)  Take advantage of those days!

You can use these special outings to capture a set of lifestyle-type photos or to do a more “formal” family photo.  The photo above was taken while on a field trip.  The weather was gorgeous, the lighting just right, and the kids looked presentable!

If you want to get in on the photo as well, ask someone nearby to use your camera to take the photo.  Set the camera up for them (when in doubt, set it to Auto) and ask them to take several shots so you have plenty to choose from.

Large Family Photos - how to get the best shots, make the most of your time, and not break the bank |

This Easter, we asked my mom to take a photo of us in her living room after church.  My oldest daughter set the camera up, and handed it to Grandma.  No, it isn’t professional-grade, but it is all of us together!

Idea #4:  Take Individual photos

We have started taking individual photos of all the kids every year.  I feel like this really shows their growth and captures more of their personalities.

Large Family Photos - how to get the best shots, make the most of your time, and not break the bank | RaisingArrows.netThese can easily be put into a collage (more on that in a moment), or displayed separately.

Idea #5:  Raise a photographer

Ideas for Large Families to get great photos without breaking the bank |

Ideas for getting large family photos without breaking the bank |

There is nothing better than having a photographer in the house!  All of our family memories are preserved on Megan’s external hard drive.  At the end of the year, we pay her to put them into an album to be printed through Walgreens or Mixbook.

The only downside to having a photographer in the family is that she’s not in a lot of the lifestyle type photos because she’s the one taking them!  The best thing to do in this case is either learn to use a timer so your child can jump in on the shots, or have her set the specs for the photo and then hand the camera off to you (as we did in the photo below!).

Large Family Photos - how to get the best shots, make the most of your time, and not break the bank |

You can see more of her work here –> Diverse Reflections

How to display your large family photos

Idea #1:  Photo collage

This is something we started doing several years ago.  We would take individual photos of the children and then put them into an 8×10 collage on Walgreens‘ site or via PicMonkey.  I am even able to add in Emily’s photo, making it a collage of ALL of the children.  Daddy keeps one on his desk and we hand out the rest to grandparents.  They are reasonably priced either through Walgreens or by putting it together yourself and printing on your own photo paper at home.  It is also a very compact way to display your photos.

Idea #2:  Photo Wall, Shelf, or Frame

Another great way to display photos for a large family is via a photo wall or shelf.  I especially like this idea for lifestyle photos.  You can mix and match sizes, colors, and frames to create a very unique display that fits the decor of your home.  (Check out this post for more ideas on creating stunning photo walls.)

You can also purchase frames that create a photo wall effect for you.  For Christmas, my mother-in-law bought us a photo frame with plenty of spaces for individual photos.  Here are a couple of examples from Amazon:

You are able to get a lot of photos in a small space.  It is also easy to snap a photo with your phone to share with family and friends like I did on Instagram. (you can follow me here –> @amyarrows)

These are my people! #2to1conf

A photo posted by Amy Arrows (@amyarrows) on

Idea #3:  Flip Book or Album

I used to scrapbook, but I simply do not have the time anymore.  I’ve found it to be just as fun and rewarding for the family to have a flip book or family album to look at.  My daughter and I keep our photos catalogued and then at the end of the year, put the photos into an album created on Walgreens or Mixbook.  (I actually pay my daughter to put this together for our family since she is the one with most of the photos.)

A flip book is a great idea for grandparents or to keep in your diaper bag!

Idea #4:  Canvas Print

This is a really fun way to display your family photo!  If you get a good one (be sure the pixels are plenty big!), you can order a canvas print from Walgreens!  This makes for a great focal point for a room!

Hopefully, this gives you some ideas to get started with!  I also have some large family photography ideas on my Large Family Living board on Pinterest, if you’d like to peruse it!

And perhaps you (or your budding photographer) are wanting to learn how to take better photos (even with your iPhone!).  Now is the time to grab some great resources to learn from!  Check out the Photography Bundle going on right now.  It is for a limited time only so HURRY!

We decided to buy the big “Business” package as a school investment for our 14 year old.  I’m so glad we did – my daughter is loving it and learning so much!

Aspen’s 5 Month Photos & Photography Freebies!

If you have a budding photographer in your home like I do, or maybe YOU are wanting to take better photos and preserve family memories, I have a fun FREEBIE for you!

You can get either one of the resource below FREE for a limited time!

Beginner Freebie

Advanced Freebie

And here is one of Megan’s photos of Baby Aspen, taken recently during her 5 month photo shoot:

Aspen 5 months

Megan wanted to do a Tea Party theme.  We took Aspen out on the lawn with some teacups and took tons of photos!  They were all so good, but the one above just melted my heart!

Time for Some Summer Fun! {50% off SimplyFun Games!}

SimplyFun Summer Sale!

Are you wanting to do something fun as a family that doesn’t involve the television this summer?  (remember THAT post?!)  Well, there’s a really great sale going on at SimplyFun right now!

50% off select games!

These are high quality, entertaining and educational games the entire family will enjoy, and the prices during this sale are AMAZING!

One thing I really appreciate about SimplyFun is how hard they work to ensure these games span ages and abilities.  (You can learn more about their Autism Initiative HERE.)

An example of this is Sudoku Challenge:

Sudoku Challenge - only $12.25 during Summer Sale!

Your older kids can play the traditional numbered game, or you can change it to Zoodoku and play with animal cards that even your younger children can enjoy!  Our family loves logic games, so this one is on our list!  And you can’t beat the $12.25 price tag!

Also, if you buy $50 worth of games in this sale, you can get either the U.S. State Flags puzzles (my recommendation!) or the Endangered Species puzzle for just $1!  This would be a great hands-on addition to your homeschool!

The sale ends June 11, so if you are looking to stock up on some great games for Family Game Night, now is your time!


Summer Games on 50% off Sale

Finish Your BYB Shopping Today!

This sale is now over.

Guess what!  You just *thought* you missed the Build Your Bundle Homeschool Sale!

The BIGGEST Sale of the Year has been EXTENDED ONE DAY!TODAY, is the final day of the sale.

(If you already ordered, you will find a coupon in your inbox to save even more if you found something else you want!)

So, finalize your purchases by tonight at 11:59 pm Eastern time!

Click here to Buy Bundles!

By the way, I sent an email to my subscribers on Saturday with a step-by-step of HOW to order, so if you are feeling confused about how to order and would like me to send that explanation to you, email me at amy at raising arrows dot net, subject line: HOW TO ORDER – and I’ll pass that email along to you!  And I’m happy to answer any questions you have about the products!

The Eclectic Homeschool – Bible Resources

Eclectic Homeschooling - Bible Resources | RaisingArrows.netLet’s start at the top breaking down this eclectic homeschooling thing!

Bible should be the first “subject” we teach.  Now, you know I’m not a big fan of Bible being compartmentalized (thus the reason the word subject is in quotation marks), and the free-spirited homeschool side of me wants homeschooling to be a lifestyle, not a method, so please understand, the suggestions here are not something you do so you can checkmark a box.  I’m going to walk you through Bible study ideas and resources that will be outside the box – which fits perfectly with the eclectic homeschooling personality!

What Bible looks like in an eclectic homeschool |

Because I do not recommend doing any FORMAL Bible study with children younger than junior high age, I am going to start by giving you resources and suggestions for infusing Bible into your entire day with younger children.  Then, we’ll move on to the older children.

Bible Resources & Suggestions for Non-Readers

Before your children can read, they are totally dependent on you to feed them their Scripture.  This is such a crucial time, and a FUN time too!  They are little sponges and getting God’s Truth in them isn’t a difficult task.

For years now, I’ve read to my non-readers and early readers (more on them in a bit) from a Story Bible first thing in the morning following Morning Chores and breakfast.  If I was more awake in the mornings, I would definitely do this at the breakfast table, but between late nights with the older kids and middle-of-the-night feedings with the newborn, I don’t have the wherewithal to do that right now.  So, we clear the table from breakfast and meet in the parlor.  (The older kids head off to do their own Bible study time, or sit in on the reading as well – you can always learn something new!)

Here is a list of the Story Bibles we have used – I like to keep this time MEATY.  There are many more out there, but I’m only going to list the ones we’ve personally used:

The Child’s Story Bible

Mighty Acts of God

Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible (1932 edition)

Over the years, I have also added in Character Studies during this same time period. I like to choose something a wide range of ages can understand (make sure you are always dialoguing during this time too!). This is where I would plug in any resources I have found online (think Pinterest) or in bundle sales.


Here are a few we have used in the past:

Proverbs People – Volume 1 by the Boyers

Proverbs Study Guide – Volume 1

(note: this was pretty heavy at times, and in classic Kevin Swanson style – a little dismal – but I would still recommend it if you are willing to stay intellectually engaged and help your children digest it.)

Fruit of the Spirit Children’s Devotional
fruit of the spirit edevotional

I have even used an old KONOS manual I was gifted many years ago!

Honestly, this is a great place to exercise your eclectic-ness!  You have the freedom to try lots of different resources and find ones that your family LOVES!  This is also a good place to fit in a read-aloud like a YWAM missionary heroes book.

Now, on to the rest of our day…

I’ve told you before that we always start with the Rod & Staff ABC series for our preschoolers when they decide they want to do school.  This isn’t because this is “Christian” curriculum, but because it is one more way to create dialogue with our children about God’s greatness while teaching them skills.  However, the best way we’ve found to infuse the love and greatness of our Creator is through allowing our children to run and play out of doors.  I remember reading once that the Amish feel it is important for their children to spend a lot of time out of doors because it helps them to know and love God.  I wholeheartedly agree!

Read this post to learn more about letting your children learn through curiosity.

In my mind, the curriculum is not the real issue.  You can use a curriculum for your non-readers or not, but whatever you do – BE INTENTIONAL.

I want to add a quick note here – I do not advocate contrived teaching (for lack of a better phrase).  LIVE YOUR FAITH OUT LOUD, but don’t feel like every word that comes from your mouth to your little one’s ears needs to be saying something directly about Jesus.  YOUR LIFE should say something about Jesus.

We dialogue all day long, we interact all day long, we feast and have fun!  We want our life to point to Christ.  No, we don’t always get it right, but that isn’t the point!  The real point is that we are striving by God’s grace to honor Him!

At the end of the day, we try to have a Family Worship time.  This is more of a training time than anything for our little ones.  We read the Bible and sing, and I work to keep them sitting and respectful of God’s Word and the person reading.

Eclectic Bible Resources -

After that, I like to put the little ones down by reading something short to them and praying with them and then turning on some Scripture Music.  This is usually a light-hearted and slow-paced time – we still end up with a lot of discussions, but I prefer this time to be short and sweet (what can I say, I’m tired too!).

We are currently reading the Snuggle Time series from Tyndale.  (Here’s my review of this series.)  There are 3 books in the series.  They are short, but thoughtful (and I rarely get by with reading just one to the kids!).

Snuggle Time series

After that, we help them say prayers by guiding them with some ideas of things to pray for and about.  If we’ve had a late night, we will often say a group prayer rather than an individual prayer.  It’s good for them to hear mom and dad pray for them…even if you simply say, “Please help Junior learn to obey.” 😉

Then, I turn on some music, and pray they stay in bed.  (just being real here)  One of my favorites is Scripture Lullabies.  (You can read my full review here.)

Scripture Lullabies volume I & II {review & giveaway from}

Bible Resources and Suggestions for Early Readers

As soon as our children can read reasonably well, they receive a Bible of their own!  Be sure it is in the SAME TRANSLATION your family uses for devotions or your pastor uses at church.  This allows them to follow along.

We encourage them to read a few passages every day as they are able.  They also listen in with the younger children during the morning story Bible and character studies. (see above)  My 10 year old is also reading through the YWAM missionary books on her own.  This has sparked a lot of great discussions.

YWAM Missionary Books - Bible Resources for the Eclectic Homeschool | just finished this one.)

Another thing I do a lot of is leave Christian resources laying around the house.  If I find something I want my children to read, I just leave it somewhere.  They devour it!

I also try to bring things out at meal times like the latest Voice of the Martyrs magazine or the letter we received from Samaritan’s Purse.  My plan is print off some maps from this free website and put them on the wall in the dining room so the kids can readily see where some of the things we read about are taking place.

We are also going to start using a resource I’ve had my eye on for a while and managed to get in the Build Your Bundle sale – The PictureSmart Bible!

Draw your way through the Bible
I am really excited about this!  These are templates your children colors and fills in to enhance their understanding of Scripture.  And yes, I’m going to do them along with them!

Bible Resources and Suggestions for Jr. High & High School

When your children get to this age, it’s time to assess their individual needs in the area of Bible.  This is the time to deepen their walk, give them answers they need, prepare them for the world.

Do not expect every child to be a believer at this point in their lives.  That’s not YOUR job, and you haven’t failed if they haven’t made a profession of faith by the time they are 12.  If you have raised thinking young adults, they will need something much meatier to chew on at this point, and THAT is YOUR job.

This is when we introduce Worldview curriculum.  This is when we start requiring they read books like Dug Down Deep, Assumptions, and How Should We Then Live.  (Soon, I hope to post a list of the books we require for graduation – these being among those.)

We send them to TeenPact, Worldview Academy, and we stay available for the hard questions.  This is the time to put the Bible Gateway app on their phone, tablet, or iPod.  Help them set up a Bible reading plan.  Teach them how to take sermon notes.  Keep that running dialogue, and DO NOT FREAK OUT when they ask hard questions.  It is NOT a sign of defiance – it’s a sign of a thoughtful mind.

This is also when YOUR prayer life is going to kick into overdrive!  My teens have rooted out all kinds of inconsistencies in my life.  They have called us on things we believe, but haven’t thoroughly thought through.  They have asked questions that we needed to look up and study for ourselves.  I am challenged and encouraged by them every single day!

I know this is a lengthy, meaty post.  I know there is so much more I could say, but let me end this by saying that the eclectic homeschool is such a rich environment for studying the Word of God!  You are not chained down to one thing.  You don’t have to follow a prescribed method.  But even if you aren’t an eclectic homeschooler, please don’t compartmentalize your faith and Bible time in your homeschool!  Do whatever it takes to make it your life and the central focus of your children’s education!