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10 tips for a successful family session

With fall upon us, it's the perfect time to talk about what you should do to prepare for your family's photo session.

1. Wardrobe.

In short, you want your family to coordinate and not be too matchy-matchy in COMFORTABLE outfits you can move around in. Pick a color palette and plan it out in advance. I don't want you to arrive all stressed because you couldn't find sister's dress 5 minutes before you need to leave. More about what to wear here.

2. Prep the kids.

For the little ones, you can simply tell them you are going to the park to play while Mrs. Sarah takes pictures of your family. You can also tell them afterwards you are going for a special treat. I've never been above bribery! Maybe mom and dad will have a special little treat in the form of a cocktail after! :) BUT please don't threaten the kids. Parents often think they are helping, but this usually makes things worse. If the kids need a break, we will take a break. Or I will focus on someone else in the family. Listen, I have three kids of my own and I was a teacher for years. I get kids.

3. Communicate with me.

I will send an email or text with exactly where to meet and how to find me. If you missed this, please don't stress, just email/call/text me! Let me know before your session if you have an absolute "must" photo. Want to bring the dog? Of course! Just please let me know before the session. There are certain parks where they are not allowed.

4. Leave the directing up to me.

Please tell your children to be good listeners, but please leave it at that. I will direct from there. We will play games, tell secrets, run, and play. I do give you complete permission to play with your kids while I snap away. We will take a few "everyone look at me" photos, so you can send them to family and whoever else. The rest of the time, we will joke, laugh, tickle, snuggle. Spin those kids around and tell them why you love them. Showing your true colors as a family will allow me to better capture your love for one another.

5. Leave the cheese for the crackers.

Please leave that "cheeeeeese" at home. You don't need to tell your kids to smile for me; I will capture natural interactions and expressions. Don't worry, your session isn't completely unposed. I will direct you to a certain position and your job is to look lovingly at your family. Help me to create more candid shots by playing and talking with your children. Those authentic expressions come from looking at your family, not me. I will move around you guys and capture a variety of different images.

6. Plan on being early.

I cannot control when the sun sets, so if you are late, we will lose some of that pretty light. If you are scheduled for a mini session, we have a short 15 minutes together. If you are 10 minutes late, you get 5 minutes. Another bonus of being early, little kids have time to adjust. Walk around a bit and see what there is to see. If there are other families being photographed, watch from a distance and explain what's happening.

7. Be prepared.

Don't come hungry. Kids should eat before, not after. I'm not happy when I'm hangry either. Bring snacks and water. Bring a lovey for a little one if it will make them feel more comfortable. Bring backup outfits for little ones. Accidents happen.

8. Bring a helper.

You have my permission now to bring a family member or friend if you want. Grandparents can always get those kiddos to smile! Plus you might be more likely to get mom and dad photos with some entertainment. If you want to add people to your session and incorporate grandma and granddad, just please let me know ahead of time!

9. Check your expectations.

Really I mean it. Especially if you have little kids, you know this applies to almost all aspects of your life. I don't expect any child to act like an angel ever, and you never know what I see from the other side of the camera while your super cute monkeys run in circles around you. Happy kids equates to happy photos. As a former teacher, I've truly seen it all and I can handle it.

Just have fun. Relax and enjoy this distraction- free time with your family. Seriously, smile through it all, even when your kids are being nutty and silly. These moments actually make for some great photos. Most times when I have to scratch a photo because of someone's face, it was a parent, not a kid. Just keep smiling. :)

10. Prep dad.

99% of the time, I'm communicating with mom and dad really doesn't know what's happening. Mom, please keep dad in the loop. Let him read this.

Dads- please for the love of everything, support your wife in the fact that she wants beautiful photos of her family. Be the family cheerleader. I am capturing your family's legacy for you. You want your family to look back at these photos years from now and many more years with their own children.


The moral of the story here is to relax and have fun. Family photos should not be stressful for anyone. Once you're done, the only thing left is to enjoy your images!


Thank you for stopping by my blog! You can see more of my family work by clicking on my Family Portfolio. Are you looking for a DFW Photographer? I'm now booking fall sessions. I would love to meet your family and capture your memories. To book a session, contact me here. I look forward to meeting you! ​


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