How to Prep for Your Family Photography Session

June 17, 2022

My style of family photography focuses on capturing your family as they actually are. It’s about looking natural, having fun, and getting some great photos in the process. I like to keep my sessions super relaxed and easy, but a bit of pre-planning can go a long way in making sure our time together goes smoothly. Here are a few things to keep in mind when getting ready for your family portrait session.

Mother and father walking with daughter at Bay Boat Club in Cleveland, OH

Choosing a Location for Your Family Photography Session

If you already know where you want to shoot, that’s amazing! I’m always up for discovering new places. If you’re not so sure, then don’t you sweat it! I’ve got my own little index of locations for almost every scenario and we can go through them together.

Are you drawn to big open fields? Do you love the pastel tones of the beach or the deep colors of a rocky riverbed? Is there something about the movement of tall grasses that speaks to you? Do you love the edge of urban environments?

Keep in mind that we’re looking for somewhere where there aren’t too many distractions, where the light is soft, and where there’s enough space for us to move around.

Do you find it hard to get everyone dressed, fed and out of the house on time? Good news — you don’t have to! An in-home session is a great way to authentically capture a snippet of your family reality. When everyone is comfortable, snacks are on-hand, and the weather isn’t as much of a concern, we can focus on the good stuff.


Family photography session in the foothills of Denver, CO.

Nailing Down a Session Time

I like to schedule outdoor sessions when the sun is low in the sky – just after sunrise or just before sunset – because the kind of natural light that fills the sky at this time makes everything look golden and glowy. Depending on when the sun rises and sets, this window of time might not be ideal for everyone, especially for smaller kiddos. I always recommend trying for a later nap if you’ve chosen a sunset session or an earlier bedtime the night before if you’ve chosen a sunrise session. If you don’t think adjusting nap schedules for the day will work, we can always chat about when your kids are happiest and work according to their schedules.

If you have time the day before the shoot, lay out all of your clothes and get anything else you may need packed into the car so you and your family don’t feel like you’re rushing around before your shoot. Give yourself lots of time to get to the location; it never hurts to be early! When a family shows up to a shoot after driving illegal speeds to get there, it sets the tone for a tense and stressful session. Give yourself the gift of a relaxed session by allowing plenty of time for showers, baths, grooming, snacks, etc.

Family photography session of kids running through field

What to Wear for Your Family Photography Session

The number one thing I want you to remember is that being comfortable is everything. It’s normal to want to shop for a new wardrobe prior to your family session, and there’s nothing wrong with doing that. But usually the best route is to go with something that’s tried and true.

Wear something that will keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. If you have anything in your closet that is textured, sheer, or billowy, fabrics that flow show up beautifully in photographs because they capture movement. Avoid starchy, stiff-seeming garments that get wrinkly in weird spots and need adjusting. Most importantly, wear something that makes you feel confident.

Avoid matching and blending together into one monochromatic blob. In order for the components of your photograph to really sing, you’ll want to find complementary outfits that showcase a controlled variety of textures and colors so you can look good together without looking the same.

Be careful with prints, logos, bright colors and patterns, as sometimes these detract from the most important part of the photos – you and your family!

Family of four laying on blanket in field

What About Posing?

Know this: your session is going to be awesome. Most of the time, the first 10 minutes of any photoshoot can feel a little awkward until you and your family warm up and feel confident and comfortable in front of the camera. I will help you guys do this! I’ll prompt and direct you, and I’ll never leave you hanging with that “what do I do with my hands?!” panic.

We’ll cycle through a few different poses, but there will be lots of room for you to express yourselves too. I like to make my family sessions feel like playtime – the perfect way for you to reconnect with each other and for me to document those true-to-you moments.

Family of four laughing at Christmas tree farm in Cleveland, OH

Let Your Kids Be Themselves

I know what you’re thinking. What if my kids are total monsters the day of our session? If your kids are acting rowdy, don’t want to sit still or don’t want to smile: PLEASE. DON’T. STRESS. I’ve got it handled. All I need you to do is make sure your kids have taken good naps (if they still nap) and have had a filling snack prior to our session. Because hangry, tired kids and family photos are never a good combination.

Leading up to the shoot, it’s never a bad idea to get your kiddos excited. Show them some photos that I’ve taken, let them know that you’re really excited, that we’ll be playing lots of fun games, and there might even be a special treat at the end (obviously, I’m not above bribery – it works wonders in this exact situation). Rest easy in knowing I have yet to meet a kiddo I couldn’t work with.

Little boy in field making a silly face

Last, But Not Least

If you walk away after reading this and only remember one thing, let it be this: have ZERO expectations. Embrace whatever unfolds — the wind, the rain, the laughter. Every shoot is unique, and we have no set shot list to tick off on the day. It’s all about you and capturing your life and family exactly how it is on the day of your shoot. We’re not here to mimic the shiny perfect families you see on your Instagram feed, we’re here to tell your unique story as it shows up on the day of the shoot – wrinkles, tears, joyous abandon, all of it. Throw your checklist out the window and know that magic will naturally unfold. And I’ll be there to capture it.


Ready to work together? Book your family photography session today!

Ready to make some photographs you can't stop looking at?

I want you to have family portraits that you LOVE. No forced smiles, no corny poses, no intricately swaddled babies in baskets — just you and your family as you are. I promise to make it as easy, laidback and authentic as possible, and hopefully a little fun, too. I know, sounds pretty nice, doesn't it? And it's just a click away.

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