How to Prepare for Your Family Photo Session (Helpful Tips)

By Kyra Chambers •  Updated: 07/04/22 •  6 min read

Family photo sessions and portraits are a lot of fun but can also be a bit daunting.

If you’re a busy mom you might think as long as you have the “kids, husband, color-coordinated outfits, snacks, lotion, know the ETA…, you’re good to go!”

At least, this is how I’d hope every family would prepare before their session. 

But things happen! 

Especially in a family session with small children. They can be unpredictable.

So, if you’re not totally prepared, don’t worry!

Know Where You’re Going

Put the location of where you’re shooting in your GPS the night before.

This will help save time in the morning when you’re getting ready and give you a better idea of how to time your day.

We do this to prepare when we have photoshoots outside the studio.

Leaving early is also a must.

Just in case we end up in a location with weird parking or a difficult area to find.

Snacks and Drinks

If you have kids coming, I suggest packing snacks and drinks for them.

It’s also a good idea to bring along some toys to keep them occupied during the shoot if there will be times when they aren’t posing.

Make sure they are fed and have gone to the bathroom before starting. 

This will help them stay happy and cooperative during the session.

We want to minimize the amount of child care needed during the photoshoot.

The photographer you work with will most likely be understanding and prepared for any situation. 

But you’ve paid for that time slot. 

So it’s best to prepare in advance and get your money’s worth. 

And you’ll be respecting the photographer’s time as well.

Bring Props If You Want

If you have any props you want to use in the shoot, bring them.

Props can help add interest to the photos and make them more personal. They can be anything from a special toy to a sentimental piece of jewellery, cakes, balloons, etc.

You might even want to bring along a few outfits if you’re unsure what will look best in the photos.

Because if you’re like most people, the thought of having your family’s photo taken probably conjures up images of awkwardly posed shots in front of a bland backdrop.

But with props and a little creativity, family photos can be fun, unique, and full of personality.

Also, props provide a source of amusement for kids (and adults) who are feeling shy or uncomfortable in front of the camera.

Plus, they can help create a sense of unity and connection within the group. And, even add a touch of style and individuality to your photos.

So next time you’re planning family pictures, don’t forget to bring along some props!

Outfits for Your Family Photo Session

The outfits you wear should be comfortable and coordinate well together.

You don’t want to be fidgeting too much with your clothes during the shoot.

Make sure all family members are wearing coordinating outfits.

family photo session

This will help the photos look cohesive and polished.

If you’re bringing any props or accessories, ensure they are ready to go and within reach.

We don’t want to waste time hunting for things in the middle of a shoot.

If you need more help on this topic, we also have a blog about What to Wear to a Family Session

No Naps in the Car 

I encourage the parents I work with to ensure the baby is well rested before the photoshoot. 

Waking a baby up from their nap is not fun.

Especially when they realize they are in an unfamiliar location with unfamiliar people trying to get their attention.

I sometimes use the first 15 minutes of a photoshoot talking to the baby or child and getting to know them to get them comfortable around me.

So nap time is crucial to have earlier in the day.

I would suggest a nap before leaving the house and having someone keep the baby’s attention on the car ride to the session, so they don’t fall asleep.

If the car ride is long, a nap can be okay. 

But the baby should be woken up 20-30 minutes before arriving, so they aren’t cranky during the photoshoot.

ETA for Your Family Session

Give yourself plenty of time to get to the shoot. 

If you’re running late, it throws off the whole schedule and can cause stress for everyone involved.

It’ll cause the photographer to rush through the session, and you won’t be getting your money’s worth.

Arriving early or on time will show that you respect the photographer’s time and assures you that you’re receiving quality attention and photos.

What to Expect During a Family Photo Session

Most family sessions last between 1-2 hours. 

But this can vary depending on the package you’ve purchased and the number of people being photographed.

I usually recommend families pay and plan for a 2-hour session.

This gives us enough time to get a variety of photos in different poses or locations.

It also allows for breaks so that everyone can stay relaxed and happy…

If you have young children, they might need a few breaks to run around and maybe even explore.

Don’t worry; I’ll still be able to capture great candid moments while they’re exploring.

I’m always looking for those in-between moments that show true personality and connection.

Relax and Have Fun

Relaxing and having fun during your family photo session may not seem like the best way to get great photos, but it actually has a lot of benefits.

For one thing, it helps to put everyone at ease, which can result in more natural-looking photos.

Additionally, it allows you to to interact more with your children, which can lead to cute candid shots.

And finally, it ensures that you’ll have some happy memories of your own to look back on later.

So next time you’re getting ready for a family photo shoot, remember to take a deep breath and just enjoy the process. It’s not about getting the perfect photo; it’s about capturing your family’s unique joy and connection.

Family Photo Sessions

The family photoshoot experience is a cherished memory for many families.

It’s a day where you can genuinely enjoy the experience and each other’s company while creating beautiful family photos and memories.

But, just like anything in life, the more prepared you are beforehand, the smoother the experience will be.

Following these simple tips ensures that your family session is fun, stress-free, and yields beautiful results.

I hope this was helpful in giving you an idea of what to expect during a family photo session.

If you have any other questions or would like more tips, please feel free to contact me. I’m always happy to help!

Have a great day!

Kyra Chambers

Kyra Chambers, also known as Kyra The Creative is a Photographer, Artist, and Multi-media Designer. She's been taking pictures since 2016. She loves to capture memories for families and impactful images for professionals.