Family Session Tips and Tricks


I work fast.  And I mean, fast.  So while you might think our session is only a short time together, I can capture a lot if you’ve done your part in getting ready!


Have your clothing chosen way in advance and make sure that your outfit choices are comfortable and attractive.  You do you.  For years one of my sons was a long-haired skater-boy.  I let him wear skate clothes in family pictures because it was him.  They were usually new, but skater none-the-less.  What do your dream family photos look like?  If they are soft and elegant?  Chose neutral colors with soft, flowing fabrics…. think creams, very soft pastels, oatmeals, light browns, tans, grays, and slate blues.  Want to showcase the fun and spunky side of your family?  Choose coordinating colors (but not matchy, matchy) with bold accent colors, such as hues of gray with yellow or bright red accents.  Adding fun accessories like scarves, headbands, hats, etc. can add a modern twist and sassy flair to your images.


Be sure not to schedule your photo session around your child’s nap or bedtime.  The best time for lighting is the two hours before sunset and after sunrise.  If this is a bad time for your children, talk with your photographer.  Good photographers will be able to shoot at any time of day by utilizing areas of open shade that will give your skin a beautiful hue and put a sparkle in your eyes.  Don’t show up to a photo shoot on an empty stomach.  I meet many families who come to a photo session with dinner scheduled at the end.  If this is your plan, be sure to give everyone a healthy snack before the photo shoot.  Be sure everyone has eaten a light meal about an hour before the photo session.  This will give the food some time to digest and provide for some well needed fuel to make for some amazing images.  Also please bring some snack food along to the session for an as needed quick boost of energy.  Ideally stick with treats that are quick to eat and are not full of coloring that might discolor faces or mouths.  Water is a must!


Moms are often rushing around before a photo shoot, making sure that their family is dressed and ready.  I always encourage mothers to have their hair and makeup professionally done.  This will prepare mom for her pictures and when mom is feeling pretty and confident, this will reflect on the rest of the family as well.  Leave plenty of time for showers, baths, dressing, and grooming.  When a family shows up to a family photo session rushed and disorganized, it sets the tone for a rushed and disorganized session.  Give yourself extra time so that you are ready before it’s time to head out that door.


Please, parents… leave the “cheese” at home.  Cheese is for crackers.  So many times I have found parents who stand behind the me and say, “Say cheese to the lady kids!”  Demanding young children to look at the camera to smile will only stress your children out (not to mention the photographer) and will result in strained, unnatural and often unflattering photographs.  Step back, and allow the photographer to naturally interact and talk with your children.  This will result in natural, gorgeous smiles.  Help the me capture the true essence of your child’s personality by talking with and coaxing out those smiles naturally and easily.


Children will often model their behaviors from their parents.  So if the parents are being enthusiastic, fun, and engaging it turns on a green light for the children to do the same.  Conversely if someone is being closed, uninterested or even negative for the photo session this can and will likely reflect into the children’s behavior. That said, I invite all present for the session to let loose for a time, laugh for no reason at all and enjoy the play while being in the moment.  You will have fun and the photos will be amazing!


Yep, I said it and when it comes to family photography I am all for them.  Bribes are best if left on the back burner for emergency use only when all else has failed.  There are two types of bribes.  The first is the delayed gratification bribe – this might be say additional screen time the next day or an ice cream cone after the photo session.  The second is the instant gratification bribe – this would be like a jelly bean or another treat that can be offered at the moment it is needed.