Family Sessions Photography Tips


August 16, 2016

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Since the Holidays are right around the corner (can you believe it?!), I know many families are getting ready to take their photos for cards and to take advantage of mini-sessions photographers are offering. Today I want to share with you some tips that I’ve shared with my own family clients over the last 7 years that will help make your shoot go as smoothly as possible.

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1. If you have small children, make sure they’ve napped and are well fed. The best time to schedule your session is after your children’s afternoon naps. Let your photographer know what their nap schedules are and they can help you pick a time that will work best for everyone. And if you wonder why photographers want to shoot in late afternoon, it’s because outdoor light is best closer to sunset (what we call golden hour).

2. Bring snacks. I’m going to assume most parenting books say bribery is a big no-no but if a piece of candy or chocolate is going to put a smile on your child’s face, please do it. The photographer only has so many tricks up their sleeves and a little treat at the end for good behavior and hamming it up for the camera won’t hurt anyone. Another option is to promise them a special treat at the end of the session like a visit to an ice cream shop. This is something the whole family can enjoy, too.

3. Bring wipes. More than likely your shoot will be outdoors somewhere and your young child will want to touch and eat everything they can get their hands. Keep wipes handy to clean mouths and noses as well as dirty hands.

4. Test drive new outfits. If you’re putting your children in new outfits or hats and hair accessories, put them on for several hours a day for several days before the shoot so they can get used to it.

5. Talk to your children about the shoot. Younger or older, explain to your kids that you will be doing a family session with a photographer and make it sound fun. Please don’t threaten them to behave. Not only does this make the shoot sound more like work than fun, but it sets the tone for the afternoon and not in a good way. It’s too much pressure on them and photoshoots should be something fun the family does so the children enjoy them as you keep doing them.

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6. Candid photos are the best. No, really, they are. Think about all the photos you love of your children and even of yourself. Most of them are probably candids — moments captured at the right time when they have that smile you absolutely love. We photographers understand posed photos are important and necessary, as well, but the candids are the ones you’ll be displaying in your home and on your phone lock screen. It also allows personalities to shine which is what makes your family unique. Let your kids let loose for a bit and do their thing.

7. Parents need to remain relaxed. Children feed off their parent’s energy. If a parent is stressed, so are the kids. We understand you’re worried you won’t get any good photos of your family in a short amount of time but you need to trust us as professionals and trust that we know what we’re doing. Even if your child is having a tantrum, try not to freak out and reassure them everything is ok. Keep calm and parent on.


8. Bring a nice blanket. This is just in case. If you have small children who aren’t walking well, yet, an option is to lay the blanket down and have they play on it. This is a great way for the photographer to grab candid shots. It’s also another fun, casual posing option for the entire family.

9. Look your best. We don’t recommend that you match your outfits exactly. We do recommend choosing a color palette (blue, red, neutrals, etc.) and varying the shades and prints. For example, if the mother is wearing a navy blue dress, then maybe the father can wear navy blue pants and a white button down shirt or khakis with a blue checkered shirt…you get the idea. Also, pops of colors are fun. Bright colors are great to incorporate whether it’s with shoes, hair accessories, props, tie, etc. Please make sure clothes are clean and wrinkle-free as much as possible.

10. Have fun. How often do you have the entire family together dressed nicely and spending some time outdoors without phone and tablet screens in everyone’s faces? This can be a great opportunity for family bonding. You can also plan a fun activity after the shoot like a nice dinner out or family movie night.


Discuss the shoot with your photographer, as well. They’re happy to help and want to have a successful shoot just as much as you do. Be sure to tell your photographer about any special quirks or characteristics a family member may have, too. And don’t hesitate to voice any concerns or ask any questions.

I hope these tips will help you with your next photoshoot and remember to smile! ;)

P.S. I’m now offering mini-sessions from now until Dec. 1. I still have a few spots left so shoot me an email if you’d to secure a spot!

We will not call you without permission.
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1 Comment

  • Reply Ivy Baker February 21, 2017 at 6:37 PM

    Family photographs seem hard to take. Mainly because you have to make everyone in the photo look good. So, I like that you pointed out that candid photos are always the best. It probably would be best to have a photographer who is used to doing family photo shoots.

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