Family photo shoots are so much fun, and create portraits that you and your children will treasure forever.
People often have questions leading into the shoot, so I thought I’d put together 15 family photo session tips to help you prepare for your big day.
A family photo shoot is just another opportunity to spend time together as a family.
Plan to have some fun and have some beautiful portraits taken while you do.
If you have any additional questions please send me a note! I’d be delighted to hear from you, or provide any other family photo shoot advice that would be useful.
I’m here to help!
You can check out my tips below – thanks for reading!
Before The Shoot
1. Prepare the kids
Tell your family about the photo shoot you have coming up, and get them excited.
Depending on their age, they may have some poses they are excited to try, e.g. “one of me on Daddy’s shoulders.”
Brainstorming is part of the fun.
Don’t be afraid to include an incentive for good behavior, e.g. if everyone behaves at the shoot, we’ll go out for pizza afterwards, or I’ll buy you a Ferrari.
Whatever works for your family.
The shoot is going to be a lot of fun, so frame the experience in a positive, exciting light.
2. Make sure everyone is well fed, and rested
Feeling cheerful goes a long way in a photo shoot.
Be sure that everyone is fed and rested before the shoot.
You can bring snacks!
(More on this below in the What To Bring section.)
3. Plan Ahead
The most common piece of family photo shoot advice people ask about is wardrobe. I know it can feel overwhelming, and am happy to help!
Plan your wardrobe before the day of your shoot, and make sure the necessary items are dry cleaned/ironed.
If you’re stumped about what to wear, let me know. I’m happy to strategize!
Schedule time earlier in the day before the shoot to get everyone dressed and ready.
If you are getting your hair or makeup done, leave ample time to do this.
You don’t want to arrive feeling rushed and flustered.
What To Bring
Bring snacks that are quick and easy to eat.
Snacks should be non-staining, and food that wont get stuck in your teeth.
Goldfish crackers (in moderation – these can get stuck in teeth)
Lollipop (take too long to eat, stains the face)
Red wine/chocolate milk/green juice (stains the teeth)
Anything that takes a long time to eat
These all make good post-shoot bribes!
5. Back Up Clothes
Bring a second outfit or layers for everyone.
Either because you want to do a second “look” or just as a precaution in case clothing gets stained or wet during the shoot. (Toddlers, I’m looking at you.)
Is there an activity you love doing together? Bring it!
Blowing bubbles, kicking a soccer ball, playing patty-cake, these all make for nice photos.
This isn’t required, but can put people at ease.
7. The Family Dog
I love it when people want to include the family dog in the shoot.
IF you include your dog, please consider having a friend/dog walker come and collect the dog part way through the shoot, or be on hand to keep the dog safe when he is not in the photos.
We need to keep your dog safe and happy, and not let him disrupt the shoot.
Consider your dog’s temperament before bringing her to the shoot. If she is normally allowed to go crazy at the beach/park, will she be able to pose for portraits?
Please bring dog treats/toy for the dog so that he cooperates.
8. Beach Shoots
If you’re doing a beach shoot bring towels and, if necessary, for heavens sake bring your parking pass!
(Parking passes are a big deal in the Hamptons and Greenwich CT!)
Wardrobe/Hair & Make Up
I send my clients a What To Wear Guide for inspiration.
Here are some general tips to get you started.
Give some thought to location: do you want to look dressy, or beachy, or somewhere in between?
Getting your hair and/or make up done is certainly not required, but can be a nice touch.
In NYC I recommend Glam Squad – they come to you in your home, office, hotel, etc and do a lovely job with hair/makeup/nails.
As of 2017, GlamSquad is also in the Hamptons in the summer.
Use that link and save $25 – a blow out at your home or office is $25 plus tip. Not bad.
9. Clothes you feel good in
There’s nothing worse than feeling self-conscious in your outfit. We’ve all been there.
If you are worried about the fit of your clothing its going to show: you’re going to be tugging at your hemlines, and looking preoccupied.
Make sure you are comfortable in your outfit.
Confidence comes through in your poses and expressions. If you feel relaxed and happy, you’ll look relaxed and happy.
I can make you look a bit slimmer (if you want!) but it’s trickier to make you look happier!
So relax and have fun. The photos will be great!
This leads me to…
I edit and retouch your images. If there’s something you feel self conscious about, let me know before the shoot!
We can be sure you’re posed accordingly, and I can do a some work in Photoshop after the shoot.
If you’d like, I can slim you a bit, reduce wrinkles, etc. The key is moderation and keeping things natural.
I’m an experienced retoucher and enjoy the process.
Don’t be shy!
11. Weather appropriate clothing
You should be prepared for colder weather.
Stylish summer clothing is fabulous, but not when it’s accompanied by chattering teeth, and blue lips.
Although I discourage brightly colored ski jackets, warm clothes go a long way.
There are attractive alternatives to the ski jacket! Like this dress coat worn by the girl above. Her coat is from Janie + Jack – they have a lot of good options!
Consider bringing disposable hand warmers – they are fun and keep kids toasty.
I can help with all of this!
During Your Shoot
12. Enjoy Your Time Together
Your family photo shoot is a great excuse to spend time together. Use it wisely and have some fun!
13. You Don’t Have To Look At The Camera
It’s great to have photos of everyone looking at the camera (and I can create composite images to help us get these).
But don’t forget about the intimacy in images where no one is looking at the camera.
These are some of the sweetest moments!
14. Let Each Child Be a Star
Take a few portraits of each child alone, so they have time to shine.
Do they like playing violin, dancing, or have a big friendly smile?
Show it off!
Pro Tip: be sure to get photos of the adults by themselves too.
Consider requesting a great new portrait of mom and dad together, and a new LinkedIn photo for each adult.
15. Crazy And Tranquil
I love goofy family photos that show your love for one another, and I love the tranquil moments.
There are no wrong answers.
Both are beautiful, and both are encouraged!
You can be crazy like this family in Hoboken
Or tranquil like these sisters in Manhattan
Or somewhere in between, like these twin sisters in Greenwich CT.
Or why not a bit of both, like these brothers in the Hamptons?
Remember that anything goes, and mixing things up is a lot of fun.
Doing a family shoot with a toddler?
You can check out my toddler photography tips here.
Expecting a baby?
Here are my newborn photography session tips.
Book Your Shoot
I hope these family photo session tips were helpful!
Contact me here to book your shoot.
I look forward to hearing from you!
For reference, you can check out blog posts from the shoots above:
A mix of some of my favorite Central Park family and maternity photography spots here.
Hamptons Long Island Family Photography here
Central Park Family Session with pink blossoms here
Central Park Family Photos at golden hour here
NYC Family Photos here
Hamptons Family Photos here
Greenwich CT Family Beach Photos click here
Manhattan kids studio portraits of sisters here
NYC Studio Toddler Portraits here
Hoboken Family Portraits with Twins here