Updated: Dec 10, 2021
So you've decided to get family photos done. Good for you!! Your future self will thank you and so will your children (at least one day)! But, now what? What can you do to ensure that you have the best family photoshoot ever, so that you will love your photos? Read on, friend! I've got you!
1. Find the right photographer for your family.
This might be the most important step, and the good thing is that there is literally a photographer for everyone! Photographers differ in so many different ways from pricing to editing style to products offered to specialties to style of photography (e.g. posed vs. lifestyle) to use of artificial vs. natural light and so forth. PICK A PHOTOGRAPHER WHOSE FAMILY WORK YOU ABSOLUTELY LOVE! I'm saying go to their website and really look at their pictures with the whole family in it, the ones with siblings only, the individual kid pictures, and any other combination that is important to you. If their portfolio is consistent in quality, then that should give you a pretty good idea of how your photos will turn out!
2. Schedule the session strategically.
Here in the Vegas Valley, it gets crazy hot around June, definitely in July and August and it is still pretty hot in September. Conversely, it can be cold from December-January. This means that if you are wanting an outdoor location, it might be best to schedule your session in one of the other months, or you might consider an in home session. Hello AC and heating! This is one of the many benefits of an in home session!
Another thing to consider is photoshoot start times. To get beautiful, golden, flattering light, photographers photograph during "golden hour", which is 1-2 hours before sunset, depending on the location. If you have little ones with early bedtimes, remember that sunset is earlier in the Fall, and later and later as we go from Spring-Summer. Don't worry too much about this point though because a late nap and/or downtime can help if the start time is later.
I would also recommend that you schedule your session far out enough when your photographer is more likely to have availability, and to give your family time to find and coordinate the right outfits. Also, so that you have fewer other life distractions, stress and responsibilities around the photoshoot, you might also try scheduling it during a less busy month for your family.
3. Fill out the Client Questionnaire in detail.
Many photographers will ask their Client to fill out a questionnaire that allows them to get to know their Client better ahead of the shoot. This can give topics for conversations to build rapport and also provide the photographer with ideas of poses to try. Parent suggestions about how to get their children to cooperate and smile are also very helpful before a session. The questionnaire will also clarify Client priorities in terms of what they most want captured and how they intend to use their photos after. For example, if Clients plan to order canvases, photographers can be more careful to include extra space around the subjects in the photos, so that important aspects don't get cut off at the edges where the canvas wraps around.
For me, the more details that Clients provide in these questionnaires, the more prepared I am to best serve the Client. These questionnaires are also a great time to let the photographer know about any special requests that you might have or anything that you would like him or her to keep in mind during the photoshoot.
4. Pick outfits that you love and feel comfortable in.
I send my Clients Family Session Guides that cover everything that they need to know to prepare for their session. A big section of it has to do with outfit suggestions. While expressions and connections are most important to me in my photos, wardrobe can significantly affect the look and feel of the final photos. I think that if you are able to pick outfits that you all love and feel comfortable and confident in, it will show in your photos and make them even better.
5. Plan your hair & makeup.
If your outfits are fabulous, you're going to want to have fabulous hair & makeup, as well! (I hope that didn't sound too corny! Ha!) Think ahead of time about how you want to have this done. Are you going to do it yourself, or do you want to schedule appointments? How specifically do you want your hair to look? Fresh haircuts and/or styled hair are a great finishing touch to well-planned outfits. Either way, please carve out enough time for this, so that you feel that you are looking your best!
6. Prepare your children.
Every parent will probably agree that kids have a mind of their own! However, there are still steps that parents can take to plan for a successful session when it comes to their kids! First, make sure kids are not hangry at the session! Feed kids either a snack or dinner before the photoshoot and also pack some mess-free munchies for breaks. Second, make sure that kids are not overly tired either. Have a low key rest of the day, and have them take a (late) nap or have some down time before the session. Third, let kids know that a friend is going to be spending time with the family and taking pictures. Finally, plan for a fun family activity after as a reward, like ice cream or a favorite board game or dinner at their favorite restaurant.
7. Prepare your partner/spouse.
Similarly, make sure that your partner or spouse is well rested and fed before the session. Show them your photographer's work ahead of time, so that they know what to expect. Tell them that the best thing to do is to just go with the flow. Remind them that it's only an hour and it's the perfect time to just enjoy the family and love on them.
8. Get a good night's sleep.
Beauty rest is no joke! Try to get as much sleep as possible the night before and it will show! Hopefully, if you've taken care of all of the other steps above, you won't need to stay up late getting ready the night before at all.
9. Be on time.
For natural light photographers, we schedule outdoor sessions according to sunset. Therefore, it is so important to be on time to get a good start to the photoshoot, as well as to maximize the session time, which naturally has to end when the pretty light runs out. Plan accordingly for traffic and parking/walking time.
10. Go with the flow.
Your photographer is probably going to tell your family silly jokes and ask your family silly questions. Go with the flow! Arrive with a lighthearted attitude and just go with it. Even when your kids don't sit (or stand) still, or don't have their best smiles on at first, don't worry, stay positive and just go with it. Keep listening to your photographer and following their instructions and suggestions. They most likely have a workflow and plan for the session, plus tons of experience working with kids. They've got you covered! Additionally, for me, as a lifestyle family photographer, I actually LOVE the pictures where kids are exactly just themselves, running around and exploring and pouting and laughing and being silly. Additionally, I have some tips and tricks to get those smiles that you love so much!
11. Show lots of PDA, have fun and just enjoy your loved ones!
I said earlier that expressions and connection are my most important goals for my photos, right? Well, what helps a TON is lots and lots of PDA. Hold hands. Kiss. Caress faces and arms. Rub backs. Play with your little girl's hair. Hug. Cuddle. Snuggle. Squeeze tight. Smile. Love. Really notice the details that you adore like little fingers and scrunchy noses. You already love your partner and family. Just show it extra during the photoshoot, and the photos will preserve that love forever.
I think that about covers it! If you ever feel any uncertainty or have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask your photographer, especially if it's me! They are here to guide you along the way even before the actual photoshoot. I hope these 11 suggestions help! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or additional tips!
And if you haven't booked your Fall photoshoot yet, contact me to get started!