A Complete Guide to Prepare for Your Family Photo Shoot!

Updated: Dec 6, 2020

If you are looking for a family photographer, or booked a date already, this is a comprehensive checklist for how you can prepare for a family photo session. I walk you through every step starting with what to do before the session, what you can bring, how to act during the session, and then what to expect after. I want you to feel confident about the shoot! Let’s dive in.

Before Your Family Photography Session

1. Get the Family Excited about the Photoshoot

When you tell them about pictures, show excitement and get the kids into it. If you have younger children, make sure you let them know they will be meeting someone new at the photoshoot (me). You can make it sound like you’re going somewhere to play, or just hangout with a friend who owns a camera if you’d like!

2. Hair, Nail or Makeup Appointments

If you are booking a photoshoot, it might be a good idea to book right after one of your hair, nail or makeup appointments. It is definitely not necessary! I just want you to feel comfortable and confident in front of the camera - whatever that means to you.

3. Plan Your Outfits

Make sure your outfit choices are comfortable, and match them if you want. Things are different now — you don’t all need to wear jeans and a white shirt, for example. Try wearing complimentary colour palettes like earth tones, neutral colours, and more. If you would like to see more inspiration, read "9 Tips On What to Wear for Your Family Photoshoot"

4. Come Well Rested and Fed

Let’s be sure to schedule a session around the nap time or bed time. My favourite time for pictures on a sunny day is 6-8pm for Golden Hour sunset photoshoots. If your children like to sleep early (2+ hours before the sun sets) then let’s book in the morning! Or even better - on a cloudy day. Clouds can be a photographers best friend: no squinting and no shade.

What to Bring to your Photo Session:

1. Always Bring Snacks

Let the bribing begin. Once your kids start to get ‘bored’ or disinterested in photos, then pull out the 'treats' card. They usually co-operate again!

2. Bring Items to Keep Kids Comfortable

What can you bring to make your kids comfortable? Can you bring their favourite books, toys, hobbies? This could be a detail that reflects their personality at this time in life and something to look back on. Some families might bring favourite stuffed animals, some bring certain keepsakes. Others have photos they want to replicate, perhaps ones when their kids were much much younger.

3. Change of Clothes

My goal with these photo sessions is to make everyone feel comfortable and be themselves. I want your child to do as they please - which sometimes leads to getting very sandy, dirty, soaking wet when they run into the water, or just get some drool on their clothes. It’s best to bring a change or clothes sometimes haha!

4. Extra Shoes

Depending on the session and locations, I try not to focus on your footwear as much. If you love your heels, feel free to bring them! If we have lots of walking to do, maybe pack some running shoes for extra comfort.

5. Cider, White Claw, Beer, Wine?

This is definitely not necessary. But if you want, this can totally loosen parents up. I want you to have a good time and if that means sharing a drink while your kids play, then let’s do it.

During Your Photo Session

1. Natural Interactions

Often times I start out my shoot with a few classic ‘smile at the camera’ shots. But after that, I am aiming for natural photos and candid moments. I want to capture the way you naturally are together. Think of this less as a photoshoot and more as an hour where you get to hangout with your family worry free. This leads me to my next point…

2. Don’t feel like you need to control the situation

Kids will be kids, they aren’t going to constantly look at the camera and smile. I would never want to force unnatural and controlled images. The photos of everyone looking at each other, smiling naturally, and being themselves are the photographs you will love most. Help me by interacting playfully with everyone.

3. Dads, You Don't Have to Look at the Camera

Wait, what? I know I know this sounds weird. Not always, but sometimes dads hate having their photos taken. So to make them more comfortable, let them know they don’t need to look at the camera. I encourage them to focus on their kids! Smile at them, embrace the moment of how little they still are, and read the tip below.

4. Tickle, Snuggle, Play, Laugh, Hug, Dance

We want to get the real moments - these are some ways to do that! Ultimately, I want you to do what is natural to you. If that means spinning your child around, jumping on your husband’s back, chasing each other, then do these things. Be yourself and present with your family - I will do the rest.

5. The photos will look better than you think

I find most people, including myself, may initially feel uncomfortable and self conscious in front of a camera. They might over think their poses, what their smile looks like, that one wrinkle that only they notice. I can almost guarantee that each image is looking better than you would think. My job is to make you look great and capture the way other people see you - which I promise is much better than you think.

After Your Photo Session:

1. Your Gallery Will be Ready Within 3 Weeks

I just need time to eliminate the photos that didn’t turn out how I intended, and edit the ones that did!

2. You will receive an Online Gallery

This gallery has a great deal of options! You can download all the images, or one at a time. You can also ‘heart’ all your favourite photos and then order high quality prints of them. If you are interested in an album, I can put one together as well.

3. Enjoy your Photos for Life

Of course photos mean the world to me. Every time I visit my parents, I see a huge print above our fireplace of my mom and I when I was 6 years old. I appreciate that photo so much. We both barely remember that time in our lives but the pictures bring us back. I want to create something timeless, and meaningful for your family as well.

There you have it. A complete guide for how you can prepare for a family photo session. The small steps before the session, what to wear, how to interact, and what to expect after. Thank you for choosing me as your photographer, I cannot wait to give you some beautiful images to have for years to come.

If you have not booked with me but were just curious what to expect, I am happy to answer more of your questions.

If you are interested in a family photo session like this, here are some things you can do!

1. If you have questions or would just like to chat, send me a message

2. Check out more of my family photography sessions

3. Look at what my past clients are saying

I would love to connect!