Updated: Jul 13, 2020
We all know that family photo sessions can be stressful. However, they don't have to be! Here are 9 tips to help your family be at their best for your photo session.
Tip 1: Schedule the best time of day for your family
Do you find that all your kids are happier in the early morning or later in the day? You get the best type of light either two hours after sunrise or two hours before sunset. It's that "golden" type light some people prefer. Then there is the middle of the day. An hour after little johnny's nap might be the best time if he is happier then. Even if the sun is high over your head there's always shade and trees that can be used. Any photographer knows that while they may prefer a certain type of light, you can shoot in midday just as well. Whichever is best for your family, clearly communicate that with your photographer.
Tip 2: Lack of sleep and an empty stomach equals cranky pants
Being well-rested and fed makes for happy individuals. I don't know about you, but when I am hangry my mood is significantly affected. My almost 5-year-old son cannot function well if he needs a snack or if he needs to wait to eat. A healthy snack would be better before your session, especially if you planned dinner right after. An apple and peanut butter or some crackers with cheese is a great snack. I recommend types of food that won't make them have a sugar rush, then crash in the middle of the session. If all else fails, at least bring a snack with you in case they do. I usually pack a cooler with water or clear juice, crackers, and maybe a cheese stick. Foods that won't stain their clothing is best if you do need a snack during the session.
Tip 3: The best clothing for your family
Please for the love of Pete, do not wear matchy clothing! Clothing can be a distraction instead of a compliment to the session. For example, clothing that is all white, all one color, or all one pattern is not ideal. Pick 3-5 colors your family loves or is in season. Think fall, spring, summer colors, and build on that. First, pick a neutral color. Neutrals can be white, brown, blue, light pink, black, navy, or gray and then build on those. I love patterns but do not go crazy with tons of patterns. If your family loves flannel, then incorporate that but if you go overboard with everyone being matchy it will draw attention to the clothing rather than the people wearing them. You do not have to go out and buy new clothing. Take pieces in your closet you love and go from there. I recommend setting out everyone's outfit on the floor or bed and seeing if you like them next to each other. Do this a week before your session if possible in case you need to buy a piece of clothing or two. This is what I do for my family sessions.
Tip 4: Allow extra time to get ready & show up early
It seems like there is never enough time when you stress about your session and try to look your best. Plan 2 hours to get ready if you need to. For my maternity session, I set aside a day to do my hair, makeup, and get ready. Go get your hair done earlier in the day if you need to. The better you look and feel will be a better overall outcome for your photo session. Plan your day around the session instead of planning the session around your day. If possible, use the whole day to get ready so it is not stressful. If mama is stressed out then it will trickle down to everyone else. Also, get to the session at least 15 minutes early. There's no way to tell ahead of time if there's traffic or your kids need a bathroom break beforehand so get to the session early. Plan ahead so you don't stress yourself out and lose time on your photoshoot because you are late.
Tip 5: Get dad on board!
Ask the dad to be a cheerful participant. Incorporate him into this family day. It is good to remind him how important it is to have this family memory and legacy. Also, the way the parents show how they love or hate the family session will affect how the kids feel about it. Be positive and happy about the experience and it will affect everyone else in your family! Talk with your family about how this will be a fun family session together and make it a highlight of your weekend.
Tip 6: Bring a fun family activity you can all enjoy
Does your family enjoy fishing, hiking, football, biking, reading, picnics, having races, or even ice cream? You love to sing and play the guitar? Then incorporate them into your family session! Rent an ice cream stuck or visit an ice cream stand, bring a football, go hiking, or even make a picnic lunch or dinner and we can take photos of that activity. Does your family love reading, then bring a book and we can take photos of you reading to your kids! It doesn't have to be a boring or non-adventurous activity. Get the whole family involved in the creative process.
Tip 7: No more cheese!
Demanding your kids to say cheese can make your children and yourself irritated. My favorite photos of me and Asher are us just interacting. I am hugging and tickling him. The most genuine smiles come from you interacting with each other. You can tickle, give piggyback rides, holding hands, and bumping hips to help encourage smiles. Playful interaction will be the best way to show love and affection in your family.
Tip 8: Not everyone has to stare down the camera
We all want to have that one picture where everyone is looking at the camera. HOWEVER, not everyone has to be looking at the camera for it to be a cherished memory or beloved family photo. The best family photos are where you are all engaged with each other, whether or not everyone is looking at the camera. If you are laughing or giggling with each other then there are authentic smiles and you are naturally showing the love between one another. Those are the types of photos that you will look back and cherish because they are depicting the love you have for one another.
Tip 9: Just be you
If you are a family or individual that loves to tell jokes- do that! If you are a hugging and cuddling type of family then do what comes naturally to you. I will guide you along the way but the best side of you is what comes out when you are acting like yourself. Getting to know you and your family and making the best of the session is what makes your photos unique.
I hope these tips help you with your session and help make it an adventurous and enjoyable experience. Do any of you have any other tips that help your family stay in a good mood during photo sessions?
Thanks for reading,