We all remember that first big gathering with a humongo group of relatives to meet the baby for the first time. For some people it’s in the hospital but for others of us, it’s a big party or even a trip, where you can count on dozens of hands begging for turns with the newest members of the family.

Considering you’ll be taking some of the favorite pics you ever take, here are our tips for making sure they’re terrific.

1. Start with hand sanitizer!
Ha, here’s one thing no photographer will tell you but we will. We’re not germaphobes, but if you consider how many different people will be handling the baby for a zillion photos, it can’t hurt.

2. Use a good camera

Samsung Galaxy Camera on Cool Mom Picks

While we’re all huge on smartphone shots, this is the time to make sure you’re using a great camera with higher resolution photos. Even a point-and-shoot is fine. (A favorite is the Samsung Galaxy Camera) You can always upload the shots to your phone later if you want to share them on your social networks.

3. Try and schedule the photos when an older baby is alert
Not that a sleeping infant can’t be adorable, but if the baby is a bit older, you’ll have more options if you can find that perfect time, often after a nap and feeding.

4. Get outside
It is super hard to get great photos indoors unless you’ve got professional lighting, or a lot of natural light. Ideally you want to shoot in the morning or towards dusk when the light is indirect (and flattering on all of you). Also consider the background: a cool tree? A great wall? A park pathway? A brightly colored fence?

5. Consider what you’re all wearing

babyGap baby cardigans on Cool Mom Picks

baby cardigans from babyGap

Let everyone in the family just be themselves and they’ll be more comfortable. No need for fancy clothes. Or, give a really rough guideline, like whites and pale colors, primary color accents, or barefoot and breezy. We’d suggest you don’t go all matchy matchy with everyone in the family in the same Christmas sweater and definitely stay away from “Johnson family reunion” tees.

The new babyGap lines include really cute neutrals and whites with little hints of color that would be fantastic on the baby in summer family photos. Check out their white + neon category for girls, or the brand new First Safari collection for baby boys and girls, in particular.

babyGap summer collection | Cool Mom Picks

Some of our favorite picks at babyGap right now include clockwise from top left: criss-cross dress; striped knit leggings; elephant kimono bodysuit; silver patent strap sandals; cargo convertible one-piece; tiger knot hat; star bundler; ruffle bloomers

And for even more of our favorite new babyGap clothes, see our Baby Shower Gift Guide!

6. Experiment with close-ups and wide shots, candids and poses.

It’s nice to get a wide shot of the whole family, but some of our favorites are the quiet moments that someone is holding the baby and doesn’t realize you’re shooting. Think: Grandma’s hands with the baby’s in hers; a young cousin gazing at that little face for the first time; an uncle trying to make her laugh with silly faces.

7. Imperfections make shots perfect

Family photo from Ilana Wiles | Cool Mom Picks

Not everyone has to be smiling perfectly into the camera like TV characters. That’s why we love this spontaneous family photo from Ilana of Mommy Shorts. It’s not what you’d call “perfect” which is what makes it perfect.

8. Bring a toy or rattle to get the baby’s attention
If you can wiggle a new toy behind the camera, you’re more likely to get an older baby or toddler to focus on you for a minute. This won’t work for 20 shots though so use it judiciously! These baby-safe Kleynimals “keys” can work wonders.

7. Get creative!

Four Generations by Moose Photography on Cool Mom Picks

This family photo idea from Moose Photography is one of our favorite ever multi-generation photo ideas, and this could be the perfect opportunity to achieve it! You can Photoshop in the photos to the frames, or better yet, print the photos on your home printer right away, starting with the baby, and then get ready for the next one.

Visit the brand new First Safari collection and the white + neon category on our partner, the babyGap website, and see more of our own favorite cute babyGap picks, plus 150 other baby gift ideas at the Cool Mom Picks Ultimate Baby Shower Gift Guide.