1. Choose your photographer carefully
This should go without saying, but the person you choose to take your family’s photos can have a significant impact on how well they turn out…for more reasons than you may think.
While their skill and style are absolutely important, the rapport they have with you is equally, if not more, important.
Do you feel comfortable with them? Are they good with your kids? Can they get your husband to loosen up and have fun with it? Can they be patient when your toddler throws a tantrum or make silly jokes to get your nine-year-old to crack a smile?
These things are essential because you have a short time together and if you don’t click, the awkwardness will likely carry into the photos.
You can find out a lot about your photographer by looking through their website, social media, and reviews. How do they come across via email or phone calls? Take the time to make sure it’s a good fit.
**If you want to find out more ways to find your perfect photographer, you can read this blog post I wrote for you: 5 Questions You Should Ask Yourself When Hiring a Photographer
2. Think Through the Location
If your photo session will be outdoors, take some time to think through the location. While you may already have one in mind, pause to ask yourself what that location may look like on your session day.
Will the park be super busy on a Saturday, causing you to be constantly interrupted to let runners or bikers pass through? Will the busyness be a distraction to your kids?
Will the beautiful flowers and trees you saw in someone else’s photos be in bloom when your session date comes around? Will there be a bathroom nearby for your potty-training toddler?
The location also has a big effect on the overall look of the photos. If you want your photos to look light and bright, then you’ll want to steer clear of darker locales with heavily wooded areas or dark brick.
If you’re just not sure, ask your photographer for recommendations. I like to give my clients a Locations Guide with ideas for places around town and photo examples for each one.
3. Piece Your Family’s Outfits Together Like a Puzzle
This is so important. The colors and patterns you wear will create the overall look and feel of your photos. This is why I send a detailed Style Guide to my clients before each session.
Take time and intentionally choose your outfits so that they complement each other and add to your photos, instead of distracting. Lay out your clothing on a bed to see how everything looks together and make changes until it feels right.
Build your outfits one piece at a time, like a puzzle.
4. Arrange Your Schedule to Catch the Best Light
Any photographer will tell you that light will make or break an image. If you are having natural light photos taken outdoors, be sure to ask your photographer about the best time to schedule a session.
Personally, I love that soft, dreamy light that you can only find right after sunrise or just before sunset. So I’m sure to explain to my clients that if they want photos like the ones they fell in love with on my website, we’ll need to plan accordingly.
Depending on the time of year, the timing may not be ideal for your children’s schedules. I get it; I have 3 kids of my own. But squeezing in an early nap or packing extra snacks for the day is worth it when you get those golden photos you’ve been dreaming of.
Most importantly, take a deep breath and try to relax. I know that you worked up a sweat getting your kids bathed, fed, and wrestled into their nicest outfits. (Prepping a whole family for a photo session is not for the faint of heart.)
But once you’ve arrived, try to let go and lean into it….even if your kids are not behaving…even if they get grass stains on their knees and nobody’s listening
Stress shows up in the photos. It will show in the way your brow is furrowed or in the tension of your shoulders.
So try to remember why you’re doing this in the first place, accept the chaos of it all….and when all else fails, just throw your head back & laugh.