Ten Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Next Family Photo Shoot

So I had this grand idea.  I asked my friend, who also has a small photography business, to set up an outdoor session for us this past fall.  I was SO excited!  I started pinning ideas to my Photo Ideas Pinterest Board, and envisioned a fantastic photo session where everyone cooperated, and my kids looked darling…..and yes, most of that happened.  But not without some planning, thinking, and a little bit of stressing out.  This was our first, of what will now be more, outdoor family shoots with a photographer.  All these years, we’ve sufficed our family photos with pics from vacations, at Christmas, and the occasional pose at Target while we were having the kids’ photos taken.  Why did I wait so long?   Our outdoor pics turned out great, and now I have some family photo tips to share with you!

Ten Family Photo Shoot Tips

Family Photo Tip #1:  Find a fantastic photographer.  We went with Laura at 3ME Photography.  This is a hard job!  I had talked to three photographers, all local ladies, who had been posting some great work on Facebook. You want to find someone who shares your vision for your ultimate outcome.  Do you want mostly black and white?  Casual family photos?  Different combinations of people in your pictures?  What do you get for the price you pay?  I had found one gal who did great work, but I only was going to get 10 edited photos.  I was hoping for more, so I kept asking around.  All three were about the same price for the one hour photo session. But the girl I went with gave me more edited photos.  I ended up with almost 50 photos!

Family Photo Tip #2:  Plan ahead with your look.  A week or so before your shoot, take care of the essentials.  Get hair cuts, your eyebrows waxed, roots touched up, etc.  Also, start planning the wardrobe.  Take a look in your closets and see if you have pieces that already work together.  Then, make a list and purchase any accent items you need.


Family Photo Tip #3:  Work your wardrobe.  For ours, I didn’t want to spend a ton of extra money buying new outfits for EVERYONE.  A few pieces here and there, but I also knew we had pieces in our closets that would work well.  I wanted to incorporate a dark denim in everyone’s outfit.  So all of us wore jeans, except Natalie who wore a denim jacket.  I really wanted the kids to pop, as well.  My husband and I went with some moderate tones of gray and black, and I chose coordinating colors for the kids.  I didn’t want to be too matchy-matchy.  I love how the boys’ sweaters compliment each other, and then Natalie and I coordinated with pops of pink.

Family Photo Tip #4:  Try everything on.  You don’t want the morning of your session to arrive, and you realize your son’s shirt doesn’t fit, or that your daughter’s leggings are too short.  Or worse yet, they all have shoes that are too small!  A few days before, try everything on.  This is especially important for us as moms.  We want to feel confident and look great in the outfit we chose, so don’t save yours until the last minute.


Family Photo Tip #5: Prep your kids beforehand.  My husband and I knew our photographer, but our children did not.  So they were a bit shy, especially our little one.  Encourage your children before hand that this will be fun, and the more they cooperate the faster you will be finished.

Family Photo Tip #6:  Arrive early.  This allows you to chat with the photographer, as well as give your kids some time to explore the environment.  We met at an old covered bridge for our photos.  While I was talking to the photographer, my husband and the kids walked the path for a little bit and explored the bridge.  This also gives your kids a chance to warm up to the photographer.


Family Photo Tip #7:  Plan a time to meet that works best for your family.  We are at our best in the morning, really anytime before lunch.  So our session was at 10AM.  This put us after a well planned and good breakfast, and we were home in time for lunch.

Family Photo Tip #8:  Have some combinations in mind.   It’s a good idea to go into your session with some combinations in mind.  The point of our session was to capture the 5 of us in ways that we can’t at the holidays, or on birthdays, etc.  But, I also have three kiddos, and wanted pictures with them individually as well as with my husband and I.  Our photographer was great at posing us, and I’m so happy that we have pictures of just my husband and I, or even us with each of our children.


Family Photo Tip #9:  Bring items to keep your children entertained. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I didn’t think to do this….nor did I bring snacks.  Oh stars!   How I wish I had thought of this!  I thought the “threats” and bribery would be enough, but alas, I was wrong.  Learn from my oversight, and bring these important items with you!

Family Photo Tip #10:  It’s okay if it doesn’t go perfect.  The most important thing to remember is that you are there to capture family memories.  If you can get a few pictures that you can canvas and hang in the living room, use for Christmas cards, or give to grandparents, it’s a success!  I REALLY wanted several photos of all three of our children to choose from.  But, I didn’t get it.  When the three were together, it was a hot mess.   However, I’m happy with the few we did get, as well as the MANY others of the 5 of us or a few different combinations.  There’s always next time!




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