I’m a portrait photographer. I took my first photography class in college 25 years ago. I’ve been photographing families for fun a lot longer than I’ve been photographing them professionally, but I can safely say that I’m well into my second decade of documenting families. It seems fitting as we approach the busy fall photo season to share my family photo session tips. I hope they help you!
Family Photo Session Tips
YOUR FAMILY PHOTO SESSION LOOK
Do a deep dive into your family’s closets. When being photographed with others, you’ll want to coordinate your clothing without matching exactly. Gone are the days of an entire family in white button downs and khakis.
- Think of the color wheel. There are cool colors and warm colors. Warm colors are like the sun- oranges, yellows, and reds. Cool colors are like the the ocean- blues, greens, and purples. You may want to choose one or the other as your color palette. Or you might choose complementary colors, which are directly across from each other on the color wheel, like yellow and violet, or red and green, or blue and orange.
- Pair prints and solid colors together. You may have one or two people wearing prints and the others wearing colors from the printed clothing. For example, if one of your children is wearing a pastel, rainbow striped shirt, their sibling might wear a pair of blue pants-a play on one of the stripe colors.
- Be comfortable without being too comfortable. You don’t have to rush out and buy a new family wardrobe, but you also probably want to avoid stained and faded clothing.
- Accessorize. Think of fun accessories that will add to your wardrobe that will liven it up without taking center stage. Maybe it’s not such a bad idea to leave the giant Apple watch on the dresser. (I know you love it-so many functions, right?!? But one day it will be dated and it’s really distracting in photos.)
- Layers and multiple textures can add visual interest, such as tweed, lace, and ruffles.
Decide what everyone’s wearing a week in advance. That way, if you feel like you have it all figured out but you’re missing one essential piece, you’ll have time to find it and complete the look.
- Avoid dramatically changing your look right before the session; give yourself a little time to ease into new haircuts, piercings, etc. We want you to be comfortable.
- Notice little one’s fingernails-are they clean? If you wear polish, do you need to touch up yours? (I’ve had a number of moms ask me not to photograph their hands because they forgot about their nails. That’s a tough request!)
- If you’re trying something different, practice hair and makeup before the day of the session. This applies to little ones too. Watching You Tube videos learning to French braid two hours before your session might be a bit stressful.
- Don’t forget the shoes! It’s easy to have the entire wardrobe set aside and forget the last detail. If anyone’s planning to wear new shoes, break them in before the session. Remember, comfort is a huge component of happiness.
- Have everything you want to be included in your session set aside, all in the same place, the day before the session. I’m sure you’ve experienced that moment of running from room to room with one shoe in your hand, asking anyone within earshot to help you. Everything includes jewelry, socks, and even the right bra that won’t show with that incredible off-the-shoulder top. You know…everything.
OTHER IMPORTANT DETAILS
- Be rested. Please don’t schedule your shoot during nap time or the morning after a neighborhood block party. You want to feel and look your best.
- Be satisfied. Coming to a session hungry isn’t a good idea. I suggest eating, even if it’s something small, but before you get dressed for your session.
- Know an exact address of where you’re meeting your photographer. I always discuss this information through email leading up to our session because I want you to have it in writing. I even try to remember to include the city, state, and zip so that you may following it as a link to your map program.
- Leave earlier than you think you need to. Racing to any appointment and arriving stressed will make you uncomfortable.
- Blankets for sitting or wrapping up in, depending on the season, can be a great idea.
- Items for getting your small child’s attention like a rattle or other noise maker can be helpful. Be careful about bringing their favorite toy because chances are they won’t want to let it go; so unless you want it in the photo session, bring something else.
- Extra clothes for infants, just in case.
- In those really warm months, I advise a cloth for wiping the shine away from your skin.
- Wipes are useful for children of all ages. They’re great for cleaning up dirt, spit, runny noses, and tears.
- Talk to your family before the session to prepare them. Approach it as a fun, family activity and follow it up with another fun, family activity like ice cream or something else you enjoy. Share that idea with them. There’s nothing wrong with dangling a little carrot.
- Children are unpredictable; that’s part of their magic! Don’t feel the need to apologize for your high energy kids.
- Don’t put off having your family photo session because of “those extra 20 pounds.” Those 20 pounds may come and go but your children change every day and you’ll never have yesterday back.
I believe your family is ready for a family photo session! After my 10+ years of photographing families, 15 years of teaching, and 18 years of raising my own children, I’m prepared! Bring me all of your spunky kids. And you, parents, bring your open minds and playful attitudes. My goal is to create no stiff photos. I want to see all of your personalities!
I hope you’ve found these Family Photo Session Tips helpful!
I offer visual aids in a blog post titled What to Wear in Portrait and Family Sessions. Another article you may enjoy written about this same topic and featured through Click Community is 8 Tips for Families for Their Photo Sessions. (You’ll see some overlap of information because it’s just that good!)