Family photos are the most wonderful investment for you and for your children. Preserving memories and special moments is so important so I hope that this guide can help you make the most of your family shoot.
Planning your outfits, hair and make-up
Although beautiful scenery and happy faces really help with lovely photos, it is also important to plan your outfits. Think about what you like; is it earthy, neutral tones or bold colours, like a pop of maroon or mustard. Lay your outfits out on the bed and see how they look together, you don’t want matchy matchy but they need to work well together. You may want to add some fun accessories like a lovely hat or a beautiful scarf. Chat to your photographer and send her some photos if you need some advice.
It’s normally Mom who wants family photos taken, and really wants to make sure that she looks best so I would recommend taking some time to do your hair and make-up really nicely, it may even be worth going to get it professionally done, although that can get expensive. Remember that the camera really strips the make-up off so even though I’m sure you like that natural look, don’t be shy.
Choosing a venue and a time
Do you want documentary style photos in your home, or an outdoor photoshoot in a beautiful natural environment? This often depends on the ages of you children, obviously a newborn shoot is best at home. If you want to be outdoors, chat to your photographer about finding a good spot - forest, beach, desert, or grassy fields all have a very different look and feel, or maybe you want a cozy shoot in your own home.
The time of day also makes a huge difference to how the photos come out. First prize is lovely late afternoon light, but this can be tricky with young children so chat to your photographer about what works best for your family schedule, but also be willing to be flexible about shifting things around just for one day. Perhaps this means a snack in the car on the way to the shoot, or skipping a bath, or a later bedtime.
Do something fun together
It’s a good idea to plan something fun to do together during the shoot, whether that is climbing trees, reading a story together, having a picnic, eating ice cream, riding on dad’s shoulder, playing peek-a-boo, riding a bike, climbing on rocks. Working around something your kids love doing helps everyone relax and allows a photographer to capture authentic moments.
Arrive happy, well rested, and with full tummies
It’s important that your kids are happy, and so this means that they have had a nap if needed, and something wholesome to eat. You can also bring some snacks along to keep everyone happy while we shoot.
It can be stressful getting to the shoot on time, or you may be feeling a bit anxious about the shoot, but try not to let your kids pick up on tension or negative emotions. Talk about what fun it’s going to be and how excited you are to have special family photos.
It’s not just the kids who may need a bit of a pep talk. Most dads don’t love photo shoots but if you can get dad on board, it will really help create a good atmosphere and encourage your kids to get involved. Remind him that he doesn’t have to pose and smile a stiff smile, he can just relax and interact with the family. Maybe Mom is feeling anxious about being in front of the camera too. Let your photographer know and then try and relax and enjoy the experience.
Get warmed up slowly
As a photographer I like to let the kids run around and explore for a bit, make friends with them, and perhaps take some candid shots of them. Sometimes the first shots are really just test shots to get everyone feeling relaxed.
Please don’t tell your kids to smile, that’s the photographers job
As a photographer, part of the job is to get to know your kids, and get beautiful photos of them. When you jump in with instructions for the kids like “Smile, say cheese”, it undermines the photographer and often makes kids feel anxious and leads to fake smiles and frustration all around. During a photo, the photographer may ask someone to tell a joke, or to give a child a little tickle, or in the case of young kids, to pull some funny faces behind the photographer, but please wait for their cue.
Connection is key
It’s not all about posing and looking at the camera. Kiss your kids, give them a tickle and a squeeze, run down a sand dune with them, whisper something sweet to your husband while your kids are climbing on you. Read the moment and see where everyone is at - does your toddler need a quiet cuddle or to be tossed in the air? Both make for beautiful natural moments. Some photographers like to set up posed moments, but photographing interaction and connection is so important too, and makes sure that your kids feel included and loved throughout the process.
I hope this helps you to prepare for your family photos and that your shoot is fun and full of authentic moments.