After hundreds of photo sessions, I’ve found that my most successful family photo sessions have key things on common. Here are my 10 tips to help you prepare your next (or first!) successful family photo session. They will help you enjoy this unique opportunity to spend family quality time and get portraits that you and your children will treasure for years!
1) Trust your photographer
Now that you have hired a professional with a style you like, you can relax and enjoy the moment.
On the day of the session, it’s normal to be a little nervous, those pictures are important to you. But you’ve planned and prepared as well as possible, and now it is the photographer’s job to create family portraits that you’ll love. For an hour, you don’t have to be the one to make all the decisions… Enjoy it!
2) Leave plenty of “get ready” time
My 2nd tips for your family photo session to be successful is to leave plenty of time to get ready. I mean more than you think you need. Parents, well moms mostly, are often a little overwhelmed before a photo session, making sure that everyone is properly dressed and on time.
On the session’s day, leave earlier than you think you need to, especially if this is a new location or your first time. There’s always last minute ironing, hair to brush, shoes to find, make-up to apply, traffic to deal with, etc.
It is stressful to realize you won’t have time to get all the pictures you want because you arrived late and the light is not here anymore (either the sun went down or the light became too harsh). Light changes very quickly, and even few minutes can make a big difference. If you are stressed, it will show on your pictures and your experience won’t be as good as it would be otherwise.
3) Prepare your children
Let your children know ahead of time about the photo session and get them excited. Your family will have a great time playing, walking, hugging, running… with one another!
Depending on their age, your children may have some poses they would like to try, brainstorm is part of the fun.
Before your session, pack a bag with water and snacks. For babies, as they are too young to follow directions, bring an object that you think might help me get their attention (like a small toy or a stuffed animal).
4) Rewards for after the family photo session
A lot of families pick something fun to do – as a treat after the session – if the kids are good listeners. Every family has different parenting styles, but I am all in for using bribes on your session day! Nothing makes a child sit still longer than a dinner at a favorite pizza place or an ice cream cone!
But please don’t mention the treat till we really need to. The later in the session, the better!
5) Arrive rested and well fed
Be careful not to schedule your photo session around your child’s nap or bedtime.
The same rule applies for meals, don’t show up on an empty stomach. If the session is just before lunch or dinner, the best is to give everyone a snack before starting.
You will find more info in my blog « what to bring to your family photo session »
6) Cloths you love and feel good in – including comfy shoes
Make sure your outfit is comfortable enough. It will help you feel confident in you poses and expressions. It will show on your pictures and help you relax and enjoy the session!
Especially if you have toddlers, you will need to wear comfortable shoes. We’re going to be on our feet all the time, running, dancing, jumping…! It doesn’t mean you can’t wear your pair of adorable heels, it only means that you might need to switch to walking shoes at some point.
If you are still not sure what to wear for you family photo session, the Family Session Welcome Guide I have created for my families should answer all your questions!
7) Keep the weather in mind
If possible, dress your family in layers, that way you can add or subtract one or two depending on the weather. Nothing will jeopardize a family photo session faster than a freezing kid or an overheated baby.
8) Have fun
Don’t be afraid to pick up your children and toss them in the air. Have fun. Laugh. Giggle. Joke. Kiss. Snuggle. Play. Hug… All those fun moments are part of the life you currently have and want to remember. Pictures are about showing the emotion and the unique connection of your family. Showing it is probably the very reason why you want photos!
9) Think about a family activity you enjoy doing
Incorporating a family activity you all love will engage everyone and bring authentic genius smiles which will create beautiful pictures. You might want to read a book or play cards… It can be blowing bubbles, kicking a ball, piggy back rides, singing, picnicking… the possibilities are endless!
You don’t need to do it of course but it can bring a nice variety to your photo gallery.
10) Kids are kids – just keep that in mind!
After having done your best, give yourself some grace! I’ve seen a few meltdowns and know how to get great photos no matter what! My goal is to make your experience as fun and stress-free as possible for you and your family!
Don’t stress because you think we have missed the « perfect shot », you will have pictures you love! Let your kids take the lead for a few minutes here and there during the session. Children, whatever their age, know when you are stressed. And sometimes, a temper tantrum can turn into a fun image that will make you laugh for years each time you look at it!
I hope you found these tips to help you get a successful family photo session useful! If you have any addition questions, please send me a message I’d love to hear from you, or add any additional “Tips” blog that would be useful.