There’s always a sense of excitement when you’ve set a date with a photographer for your family photos. You’re about to capture magical memories that you’ll look back on for years to come … or so you hope.
So how do you make sure this year’s family photo session is going to produce magical images that you look back on fondly in 20, 30, or even 50 years? Picking the photographer whose style fits your aesthetic and whose personality seems like a great fit is important, of course! And naturally it helps to pick the right outfits to maximize both comfort and nail the look you’re going for.
But in the past few decades, I’ve found that the advice people value MOST has nothing to do with their outfits and everything to do with making the experience fun and comfortable. After all, the more fun you’re having, the more it will show when you get your gallery.
Read on for tips on what to bring and what to do before you arrive for your family session!
With that in mind, Here are some tricks I’ve learned over the years to really make your next family picture session your very best one yet!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shown up for a photo session, and one member of the family looks shocked that I’m there.
There are plenty of people who just do not like their photo taken, and it may feel like the best plan is to simply surprise them.
Please don’t do this! Talk to your family members, make sure you’re open and honest with them and – this is important – ask them what, if anything, can be done to make this session more comfortable for them.
I swear by a more documentary approach to photography not just because the results look more authentic and emotional but also because 9 times out of 10, people are more comfortable acting naturally than they are being forced to stand still in a perfect pose, staring at the camera!
Planning to have children in the photos? Depending on their age, this tip can save you a whole lot of stress!
If we are taking photos at your house, you have the advantage of being able to dress the kids right before we start. But if you’ve chosen to book one of my mini sessions or at an alternate location, you likely have a bit of a ride to get there.
Save yourself the stress of having to clean up a sippy cup spill on the way over by packing a bag with your kids’ outfits and doing a quick change in the car right before we get started.
This isn’t just advice for parents! There’s nothing worse than getting covered in coffee when you stop short to avoid a deer.
Packing an extra outfit, or even just a change of shirt will ensure you’re looking your best when it’s time to say “cheese!”
I know people mean well when they do this, so if you’re thinking “oops … guilty,” don’t sweat it. Been there. Don’t that. I appreciated the effort.
But I promise you that letting me attract the kids’ attention is really going to result in much better photos!
One of the top photos that I end up having to trash from every session that involves kids is a crop of images of adults with their hands pointed my way.
Nine times out of 10, those hands are actually blocking the faces of their little ones, and it ends up taking me twice as long to capture photos of the child!
Ten times out of 10? The photo of a child looking at a family member or snuggling with a parent or grandparent ends up being much, much cuter anyway!
This is another piece of advice I offer to more than just the parents out there. While folks with younger children are often accustomed to grabbing a bag and filling it with snacks, toys and more, it’s helpful for every client to load up a bag with a quick change of shoes, bug spray and other items so they don’t have to run back to the car.
It’s also the perfect place to stow the cellphone that would look bulky and strange in your pocket or that extra hair tie you really don’t want to leave on your wrist!
If we’re taking photos outside, it’s almost guaranteed that you’re going to end up sitting on the ground at some point. Bringing along your own blanket provides a barrier to keep any clothes from getting covered in dirt.
While I often bring my own blanket – just in case – bringing your own has its advantages, including:
Do you ever get hangry? Me too!
The worst mistake many folks make is planning to eat right after their photo session. Everyone shows up with rumbling tummies, which quickly leads to crankiness from people of all ages!
I get it it. It’s not always feasible for everyone to eat a full meal before a photo session!
That’s where safe snacks come into play. These are great for filling the gap before mealtime (and quelling those hangry feelings).
So what do I mean by “safe” snacks? I mean avoiding the more common messy snacks like chocolate (which melts in kids hands) or juice (which easily spills and can stain a child’s cheeks). Even some fruits can end up leaving behind residue.
Instead, I recommend any of the following (of course you know your family’s allergy situation best!):
If you would prefer to go the candy route, jelly beans tend to be a safe bet as the harder candy coating limit the sticky factor!