5 Tips for a Fun and Successful Family Photo Session

Warmer weather has finally returned to Minnesota and it’s a wonderful time to get outside for photos.   For those of you thinking of scheduling a family session this summer or fall, I’ve put together a few tips to help it go as smoothly as possible.


#1. Communicate Your Goal for the Session

Before your session, be sure to let your photographer know your expectations and what you would like to get out of the photo shoot. Are you looking for photos for your Christmas card? Do you want a beautiful family portrait for your living room?  Perhaps your goal is to document your children at this age with individual portraits and some fun candid shots for an album.  Maybe you found a fun idea on Pinterest that you’d like to try.   Your answer may be one or more of these or something completely different. Whatever your goal, communicating it to your photographer will help ensure you get the photos you’ve been dreaming of!

#2. Time of Day - Schedule for the best light and happy kids

You may have heard of the “golden hour” which is the time just after sunrise and just before sunset. These times are ideal for photos because of the even light, no harsh shadows and the beautiful sunset glow. Portraits taken in harsh mid-day sun require the photographer to find open shade, which works fine but is more limiting.  If possible, schedule your session for morning or late afternoon/ evening times.  That said, also consider when your kids are at their happiest.  Mornings are often best for young kids because they are rested and upbeat.    Also try to make sure everyone has a snack before you leave for your session. Rested and well fed kids make for happy photos!

#3. Plan Your Outfits

The question I get most often before a session is, “What should we wear?”  I recommend taking some time at least a couple weeks before your session to plan your outfits. Try to find outfits with a coordinating color palette instead of completely matching. You can create a coordinated look by taking one or two colors and pulling them through to each family member. Layers, textures and accessories can also add a lot of interest and depth to your photos, so don’t be afraid to add scarves, sweaters, jackets, headbands, etc.


#4. Tell your kids it’s going to be fun - and bring bribes!

Explain to your kids that you are going to a park for family photos, but also let them know there will be time for laughing, exploring, playing and fun.  Get them excited about what they are going to be doing.  Trust me, this will go much further than the threats of what will happen if they don’t behave.  Also, while every family has different parenting styles and I respect that, I am all for using bribes for one day.  Plan on picking out a special toy after the session, or bringing along a treat. When I took this photo of my daughter, I bribed her with a bowl of ice cream and two marshmallows. That was the going rate at the time. Now we have moved on to cold hard cash. :)


#5. Relax and Have Fun

When the day of your session arrives, it’s time to relax and let your photographer take the reigns and create family portraits that you’ll love.  During the session, you can expect me to make fast friends with your children - playing games with them, telling jokes and maybe getting out the whoopee cushion to get the best laughs.  The best photos tend to come when everyone is allowed to play and have fun.  My goal during a session is to capture authentic expressions and your family’s connection. While I’m always watching for those moments, putting you into poses to make it happen, and keeping the session moving to keep kids happy, the best shots happen when parents relax, get a little silly and enjoy the moment.

I hope these tips help you prepare for your next photo session.  Drop me a note to get your session on the calendar!