Skip to content
home | family | family photos {before & after}

family photos {before & after}

    One of the things I love best about christmastime {other than the pretty decorations, the family memories, the holiday treats} is receiving christmas cards from our friends and family.  The card designs are fun to enjoy, but the best part is always the family photos.  We put them up on our fridge for the season and we all enjoy seeing the faces of our favorite people each day.

    And so, of course, I wanted to have a new family photo taken for our christmas card this year.  My new dad is a great photographer, so he agreed to take ours. Let me just break to say that I don’t really like the term new dad. But I like step dad and my mom’s husband even less. My personal favorite is sugar daddy – which is what I call the wonderful and amazing Walt in real life, but I don’t know how appropriate it would to say “my sugar daddy took our family photos”. Do you see my dilema?!

    Anyway … moving on … my mom and Walt met up with us after church at the University of Washington on a surprisingly beautiful fall day and we did a whirlwind of photo taking. The kids did as well as can be expected {although it was still quite challenging to get them all looking at the camera at the same time, let alone smiling}.

    The photos in their raw state are pretty good, but don’t you know I love an artistically edited photo! I did this post on using actions to edit your photos with a few helpful resources and I have another for you today.

    Maria from Bloom & Grow photography has developed a set of actions for editing photos beautifully and simply using photoshop or photoshop elements.

    Using the Bloom & Grow Basics set, here are a few before and afters from our family photo shoot.

    Kind of amazing difference, right?

    The next photo cracks me up. It was such a great concept, but look at poor Audrey-girl. She wanted nothing to do with this.

    And this next one is okay – but has way too many shadows. It reminds me of just a regular snapshot you can get of your family. Without editing, it is fine, but with some editing, it turned out great.

    I love how easy it is to turn your own photo into a much better photo with just a few clicks in photoshop.

    If you would like to win a free set of Bloom & Grow actions, please leave a comment below.

    I will select a random winner and will post it on the JDC Facebook page on tuesday. Good luck!


    378 thoughts on “family photos {before & after}”

    1. I am so impressed with these pictures!! The afters are pretty darn amazing!! You have such a beautiful family! I’m hoping to get a few of my family this week!

    2. Emily,
      I would love to win this! I would also like to know which version of photoshop you currently use:) Love your pics before AND after!

    3. your photos are such and inspiration….gives me hope that I can do a family photo with my two kiddos if you did it with four! Thank you for doing the giveaway!

    4. Thank you for posting all your recent photo editing tips, they are so helpful. The Bloom & Grow enhancements look great, you will have a beautiful Christmas card this year. I also LOVE your black & white polka dot scarf! Where did you get it? I have been looking for one!

    5. What a GREAT concept! It’s creativity like this that makes it much easier for at home photographers (aka amateurs) like myself :)

    6. can your sugar daddy come take a picture of my daughter for our Christmas card?

      great job! yall look so well coordinated in all yall’s outfits.

    7. I have so many pictures that will go from good to AMAZING with some added actions. Can’t wait to try it out. Thanks for the tip (and chance for a giveaway)!! Your blog ROCKS! :)

    8. That is too cool. I had no idea you could take the shadows out of a photo like that! You have a beautiful family.

    9. Umm, yeah I would love the chance to win some super fabulous actions! The pictures of your lovely family turned out great!

    10. Wow! What a huge difference a little tweaking does. I love the last shot in your post! You have such an adorable family.

    11. Wow what an amazing difference! I would love to give editing a try. I think it might make up for my just ok camera. Thanks!

    12. So cool! What an amazing present this would be for my newbie photographer friend. She’ll be taking my wedding pictures next fall, I can so see us using this editing!!

    13. Love love love these pics! I actually work for a company who prints many fabulous stationery brands and scoping out the Christmas family pics is definitely a perk! Would love to use the actions package to spruce up my pics!

    14. The photos look beautiful. I can’t wait to learn about Photoshop–it’s so intimidating now. Thanks for the chance to win the actions.

    15. I LOVE this!! I have a little one and another on the way and I always feel the same…I wish I could afford professional pics but I just can’t! I like pics I take but they never look as good as professional ones and I know it’s the editing I just have no idea how to do it!!

      This is so great!! Thanks for an opportunity to win this!!

      Happy Thanksgiving!

    16. I love the before and after examples! I’ve had Elements for awhile now and have been playing around a bit. Just began using some actions and have been blown away by how amazing some editing can make an okay picture, fantastic. I’d love to add Bloom & Grow’s actions to my arsenal of tricks :)

    17. Oh my goodness. I just love these actions. I am so new to the photo editing but would love some great ideas. Beautiful Family pics.

    18. Oh my! I so need this. Well I need a new camera but there is no hope what so ever in the budget for that any time soon. But that would help my picture quality.

    19. It’s such a dramatic difference! I am definitely getting more into photography. I have a 2 month old and I want to capture every single moment!

    20. Your family is beautiful! And I love your website – I just happened across it through link from and I’m officially head over heels addicted – what a beautiful site in both design and thoughtful ideas shared! I’d love to win the set of actions as a new stay-at-home-mom trying to create beautiful memories of our growing family! Thank you for your consideration!

    21. Your photos turned out fabulous! What a darling family. Love the before & after pictures…fantastic editing tool!

    22. I would love to win this! I need all the help I can get when it comes to pictures. Your photos turned out GREAT!! Love all the vibrant colors.

    23. hi emily! wonderful giveaway, i would love to win her set of actions! your photos look beautiful-the before and after is so dramatic in the first picture, the color is brilliant!

    24. Cute pics! I have four wiggly kids too and am hoping to get ours done this week. It would be wonderful to win the Bloom & Grow actions! Thanks for the giveaway and the fun blog!

    25. What a fantastic giveaway! I’ve been trying to teach myself photoshop and have just discovered these actions. Can’t wait to figure it all out!

    26. Oh wow, would I ever love to win these beautiful actions. I really love your website and the beautiful work that you do. So happy that I found it. Thanks, Susie

    27. i have to win this! please please please! lol. i’ve never won anything in my life (material, i mean.) as in, never have! :) Thanks for the chance, emily. FTW!!!!

    28. How could the photos be anything less than fantastic with your beautiful family? I have been following your blog for over a years now I feel a such kindred “blog” spirit with you.
      My wonderful Mom’s name is Audrey and I so love seeing all your photos of your sweet Audrey. My Dad passed away in 1989 after being married to our Mom for 46 years. My Mom remarried in 2000 to a man named Walt. Although no one could ever replace my Dad, Walt came very very close. He was the most kind, considerate, polite, and loving man. He gave my Mom 6 years of bliss before passing on in 2006 after cancer returned. I pray that your Walt brings as much happiness to your family as our Walt did. God bless!

    29. Personally, I like Picasa (Google’s image editor) because it can do the same thing, along with automatically make collages and slideshows. Of course, I still have Photoshop at hand just in case.

      If you want to check it out, it’s a free download at

    30. I love the fall colors! I wish we had fall leaves like that in Texas :) These photographs are beautiful, and you have a beautiful family.

    31. Love the memories in these pictures! We need to take some photos for our Christmas cards this weekend. Thanks for the chance to win! Blessings!

    32. Ooh! I’d love a chance to win. I’ve been dabbling with actions for just a little while, but would love to do more!

    33. Just started playing around with actions in Photoshop, and the difference is amazing…I would so love to win these!

    34. Would love to win this…I can use all the help I can making my photos that much nicer ;) Thanks for the opportunity….Stacie C.

    35. These photos are great! I love that you were able to make all the improvements on them from your own computer at home! These actions are so great!

    36. Beautiful photography & fixes! Wow! I would love to be able to do that too, especially without having to have a fancy camera.

    37. I LOVE the effects for these photos. It gives them a beautiful “pop.” I also love the family outfits you chose for the picture. It has an eclectic but so put together feel.

    38. Flawless skin???!!! I have to learn how to look like you…well, maybe not like you, but as gorgeous as you!!!

    39. Would love a chance to win! I struggle to make my photos any better–always seems to be a failed attempt at “artistic”.

    40. Amazing!! I really need to sit down and learn how to use actions more. I would LOVE to win those! Fun. And, fantastic pictures by the way.

    41. I love the photo on the bench, you’re daughter looks like she’s trying to pull her brother’s hair. (Or maybe it just seems that way because that’s all my baby does to her sister.)

      I would love to win the photoshop tools!

    42. LOVE your family photos! You are right: photoshop actions make all the {beauty-stunning-amazing} difference. Thanks for hosting this fun giveaway!!

    43. Your photos came out beautiful! We only have 2 kiddos and its hard enough to get a good shot, don’t know how you do it!

    44. I love the difference in the photos. I really would never have thought the shadowy one was salvageable, I can’t wait to get my own editing program!

    45. These are just what I need. I dislike all the pictures of my twins, old camera not perfect lighting, but if I could fix them it would be brilliant! Thanks!

    46. Your pictures look wonderful…especially the “after” ones. I would love to own the “Bloom & Grow Basics” to use on my photos! :-)

    47. Your family is adorable would love to learn how to enhance my family photos! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    48. They turned out amazing! I would love to win this so much! Especially with my family moving to Japan in January and my plans for having my subpar camera attached to my face most of the time:) By the way, where did you get your son’s gray and blue striped sweater? We have family pictures next week and I have been looking for a sweater just like that for one of my sons to wear.

    49. What amazing photos. Who knew you could do such wonderful things in photoshop. Thanks for the chance to win. Hope you and yours have a wonderful American Thanksgiving! Greetings from Canada.

    50. The photos turned out great! Can’t decide which one I like best…probably the first one with the family walking. Happy Thanksgiving!

    51. I think your sugar daddy did a great job! My personal fave is the walking photo and I love how the retouches brings the photo to life! Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for sharing!

    52. Yes, what is wonderful is the color and vibrancy of these pictures!! My favorite things that photographers and editors do with their pics :)

    53. We just had our first girl after two fun boys and I am now addicted to taking photos right now of them but have no clue how to edit them. I would ♥ to win!!

    54. So cute! I’ve been learning my way around photoshop over the last year, but actions make the editing so much easier! I’d love to win this set!

    55. I use actions frequently but have never heard of Bloom and Grow, I’d love to add these to my collections. Thank you!

    56. I think I am number 102! Good luck to me. I love to take pictures, photography is a love of mine so it would be so great to be able to make up for my lack of hardware. My camera is great but not great enough to get those kind of shots without editing ;)

    57. I would LOVE to be able to edit my regular old photos! I am in need of photo help so i can capture my 2 year old and the one on the way! :)

    58. Editing really does make a difference! Very cute pictures! If your Bloom & Grow Basics set makes it as easy as it sounds to achieve professional looking pictures with just a few clicks…what a great prize!!!

    59. Oh My! The photo editing is amazing. I have had photoshop for about 2 years now and never use it because I don’t know how! Would LOVE to win this in time for our Christmas pictures. Thanks.

    60. The pictures turned out great! I can’t stand the term “step”. My “step” father never used the term and I don’t believe in it. When people adopt they don’t say “my adopted mom” or “my adopted child”. I LOVE sugar daddy but definatly see the dilema!

    61. Seriously, these techniques are better than botox and can beautiful my most treasured prizes… my four little cowboys!

    62. Seriously, these techniques are better than botox and can beautify my most treasured prizes… my four little cowboys!

    63. My husband and I just got a great new camera as a wedding present and I am slowly trying to develop my “newfound” hobby. I would love to win some new actions to enhance some of our wedding photos!

    64. Wish I had seen your photos before I did mine, so lovely! You know, if I don’t win this, I might seriously have to think about buying it anyway! I love it when talented people simplify things for me. Thanks for all your talented ideas.

    65. Last week I bought my first “grown up” camera. I hope to become a great family photographer (for my family only-not professionally). I have been slacking in the photography department for most of my daughter’s life, but that is going to change. I love your family pictures and the way the colors really pop on the “afters.” I hope I win! It will be put to good use!

    66. Love your photos! I would love to win the actions! We are military and live a long way from home, so I’m always playing photographer with my two baby girls and sending home pictures for grandparents!!

    67. Love this! Your family looks so cute! I have 3 boys and a baby girl the same age as yours! I totally get it!

    68. I love the brightened colors after using the actions. Amazing. I would love to be able to do that with my photos. Thanks for the chance to win Emily!

    69. i have been learning more about using my camera and how fun it would be to get a jump start on editing with a group of actions!

      your pix look great – such fun editing!

    70. Your photos are fantastic. Just recently my son was to take a picture in to school of our entire family. The only picture we had of all 6 of us together was taken in the hospital when our 4th was born – 10 months ago! I wish I knew the teacher was going to hang the photos in the hall outside the classroom. We SO need to have a nice family picture done!

    71. Oh, I would love, love, love to win this giveaway as a professional Christmas photo is simply not in the budget this year and the ole point and shoot just isn’t cuttin’ it! Love your blog and the style you create.

    72. Oh my word it is amazing what editing can do for a photo! I absolutely love the fall colors of the first photo! They really pop!

    73. Yall’s photos turned out great! I would love to win! I have a wonderful camera and this would be great to use to make our family pictures stand out more. Thanks for the great giveaway!

    74. I would LOVE this set! Your pictures turned out great. Thanks for the giveaway!

      P.S. Thanks also for the gift tags again this year…I used them last year too on gifts and everyone thought they were so cute!!

    75. Great pictures! I can see how using this program would definitely improve my very limited photography skills! Hope to win:)

    76. Beautiful family photos…..I’m a mother of four children….it very hard getting that perfect photo….what a awesome site…..Thank You….for sharing.

    77. My husband and I just experimented with taking and editing our own Christmas photos for the first time this year — it would be awesome to have some more actions to use! You have a beautiful family, by the way!

    78. I love what the actions did for the pictures. It would be fun to play with them on some of my own pictures!
      Your photos look so full of color with the actions.

    79. Amazing what actions can do for your photos, with these their might be hope for our Christmas picture with 3 little girls 4 and under. Hope I win! Thanks also for your great printables last week everything you do is beautiful!

    80. WOW! Love how everything pops! Turned good pictures into amazing ones!
      I really need to start using something like this :)

    81. I think the photos look great! We just had ours done a few weeks ago and it’s a job to get a family of five (let alone 6!) to all look good in a picture.

    82. Love this post!! You’ve convinced me. I need Photoshop. I’m totally intimidated, but hopefully I’ll be a quick study! Do you mind sharing what version of Photoshop you use? I’m wondering if I can use these actions with Photoshop elements or do I need the Mack daddy version. Thanks so much!! Tessa

    83. How amazing is that? I can’t believe the difference it makes. I am not very tech savvy, so can you then send them to Shutterfly or a place like that to get them developed with the enhancements?

    84. Love the edits that you made! My 13 yr old son is learning to use Photoshop at school and has been wanting to teach me how to use it. He was very disappointed to learn I didn’t have Photoshop. Would love to surprise him by winning this giveaway. What a really great time of year for this. Thanks!

    85. I love how the “after” photos POP!!! Technology is amazing! I have a few photos that I thank would be “fabulous” rather than “good” using Bloom & Grow Basics!

    86. Your pictures are bananas!! They are SO sweet. I have a daycare and we are taking fun pictures and secretly sending them out to their families:) Beautiful family!! Happy Holidays!

    87. Totally amazing what technology can do now. Your photos turned out fantastic! I need to get this program so I can edit my family photos!

    88. Your pictures look great! Your blog has educated me so much… I saved the post you did on running actions…because I knew one day I’d use it. So, two Photoshop classes later, and I still don’t know how to use it…that now I’ve changed my goal to “learn how to run actions.” But…I don’t have any yet! haha…

    89. your family is beautiful!!!! id love to win as i just got family pictures made (we live in Costa Rica) and the editing would make them sooooo great to send back home to family!

    90. As a graphic designer by trade, this sort of “freebie” would be amazing…for my work day AND for my personal photos. Love that editing photos becomes simpler with a few clicks! thanks for the awesome and practical giveaway!

    91. Thank you Emily for offering such a great giveaway! I sure hope I win! I can certainly use these for all of my favorite pictures!

    92. Those are such fun family photos! I like how casual they are while still offering a little “‘somethin’ somethin'” extra. hahaha! They will make wonderful Christmas cards! And it sure is fascinating to see what a huge difference a little editing can make on the quality and ‘pizaz’ of a photo! So fun!

    93. I have been wanting to try using actions but didn’t know where to start! Your pictures are amazing Emily!! :)

    94. Beautiful family – beautiful photos – I’d love to do the same actions with my family…and we are taking pictures THIS Sunday…

    95. How lovely would this be?! Enter me, if you please! Your Audrey girl is always so darn cute, how do you get her to leave the hair clips alone?! :)

    96. Beautiful pictures! I love love love the way the colors pop, especially on the leaves! It makes autumn pictures even more gorgeous!

    97. I would LOVE to get this editing set. I enjoy editing often and I am just now starting to really get into taking pictures. Your family pictures are beautiful. I always enjoy your pictures of your family.

    98. I LOVE how the pics turned out! The setting is beautiful! The one of the kids & Audrey not diggin’ it cracks me up! Your boots are awesome- on the hunt for a pair…. Love the effect of the actions! Thanks for the chance! :D

    99. These look phenomenal! I have had some trouble finding PS actions that I like and these are lovely! Thank you for sharing.

    100. Wow those are some amazing before and afters. :) I am by no means a professional but yeah I can never be satisfied with an unedited photo. :)
      I’d love to win that action set!! And if I don’t, I may have to buy it anyhow.. :)

    101. Oh wow, I’d love to use some of these actions! talk about easier!
      Thanks! -thanks also for the lovely printables you gave us last week! LOVE them!

    102. These would be wonderful to have! I have been learning to use Photoshop and actions. Thanks for the givewaway :)
      Happy Thanksgiving,


    103. Oh such nice photos. And my family has to do some too, for the christmas gifts for the grandparents. Well and i think, we need to be photoshopped too ;) I think with this gift it would be easier for me to do so.
      And thanks for the inspirations of nice family pictures :D

    104. You all look straight out of a J. Crew ad with your cozy fall clothes. :). Beautiful! Would love a chance to do more photo editing. I still only use Picasa.

    105. Amazing what a few clicks can do!
      I would love to pretend I am a photographer-extrodinaire with Bloom & Grow!!

      p.s. you have adorable kiddos!!

    106. I would love love love some actions, we are taking family pics after turkey day dinner…could really.use the help maling them look amazing!

    107. I am a photographer myself and love to use actions! The actions I have are from MCP Actions and they work great! I am always up to try new ones and learn new things about actions. I would love to win a set of these actions for my collection. :) Thanks for sharing your pictures!

    108. Oh, I would LOVE to win this, especially for my husband. He is the family photographer around here! He would love it for when he takes pictures of our daughter!
      P.S. where did you get your adorable jacket?? You look stunning in green.

    109. love ur blog. Recently found it and am a true fan and have read almost all of your posts by now. Thanks so much for all the work you put into it. Its great!

    110. Using the actions DOES turn photos into something more special! Your pics look great, thanks for the giveaway, & Happy Thanksgiving!

    111. We are getting ready to purchase Photoshop very soon. I would love to own these actions (especially since I have no idea how to use PS!).

    112. Your photos are beautiful! I would love to have these helpful tools to enhance my own photos..thanks for the opportunity!

    113. Just got a D90 and would LOVE LOVE LOVE to be able to edit them with these actions. Your photos are beautiful!
      Laura Lee

    114. Love the photos, but you are right, the actions really make them standout! I am just getting to know elements, so I would love to win this!

    115. I have never worked with any photo editing elements other that what is on my Mac. The Bloom and Grow seems very reasonably priced and makes an amazing difference. Thanks for sharing.

    116. these actions would be fun to try out! lovely photographs of your family….i love the one of audrey though! reminds me of my little ones & their impatience with family photos.

    117. The pics are gorgeous – Sugar Daddy did a great job! This would be so helpful and much quicker with a 2 yo and a 2 week old at home now.

    118. These pictures are beautiful! It really is amazing what a little photoshop adds. It takes an already great picture and really makes it pop! Keeping my fingers crossed to win!

    119. I received a nice digital camera this year, and have been working on figuring it out. Having advice on how to edit the photos would be most helpful. Thank you for offering this give away!

    120. Love your family pics! …and how awesome to have a “sugar daddy” in your family that takes great pics! (that part cracked me up!) :) I have photoshop elements and have ready many things about the “actions” but i’ve yet to figure out how to get/use them. I would LOVE to learn and the Bloom & Grow actions look so fun to play with.

    121. I love the fact that people are coming out with photo editing for the layperson. I have a hard time navigating around Photoshop, no matter how many times my husband has shown me, so this would be perfect for me! Who knows, my Christmas card this year may look a lot better than it would have. ;0)

    122. Your family pictures are so cute! A friend just took some for my family and all I have to edit with it my good ol’ Windows Photo Gallery. Bleh – but we still had many great pictures that didn’t need a lot of editing anyway.

      I don’t understand how the whole Bloom & Grow Actions works. Is it something you purchase and download to your own computer or something she does digitially online?

    123. I would love to win this. I’ve had Photoshop on my computer for years and I just don’t have the time right now to learn all the details. Actions would solve my problems!

    124. Love the pics! Beautiful Family! I’ve been eyeing purchasing the Bloom & Grow editing software since you first posted it.

    125. The pictures look amazing to begin with, but look even better with the bloom and grow actions! Thanks for hosting this giveaway!

    126. Emily,
      Have you ever done a post/tutorial on how exactly you use actions in photoshop? I just got photoshop and I’m not sure I quite get the idea of actions. Thanks!


    127. I would love to win these actions. Your photos turned out great! I don’t have Facebook…. How will I find out if I win? :)

    128. Great photos. I can totally relate, getting more than one child to look at the camera and smile at the SAME time is probably one of the biggest challenges in life.

    129. Love the family photos, my little girl (about the same age) seems to cry in alot of pictures and I love how my boys, like yours, don’t seem to let it phase them!

    130. Your pics turned out so good. I love the edited version of the first one with all of the vibrant colors. I would love to win these PS actions. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    131. You guys are adorable! I love the way the black and white pic turned out. Hope I’m the winner so I can get our xmas card looking great, too!

    132. Wow! The bloom and grow is amazing. I just purchased elements last week and plan on playing around with it over Thanksgiving break, I’d love to try out some of these actions too!

      Happy Thanksgiving!

    133. Beautiful pictures. Love this action set! I usually rely on Pioneer Woman’s actions, but I’d love to try out a few new ones.

    134. Would love the opportunity to win the photo enhancement pkg that you blogged about! Just found your site today from The Modest Homestead blog site! Love them both!

    Comments are closed.