On Having a Fantastic Family Photo Shoot

Those of you who are regular readers know that I run a photography business on the side, and October, November and December are my busiest months out of the year, because everyone wants pictures done for Christmas gifts and cards! This year, clients started putting fall and winter appointments on my calendar in August, and it’s made for a very busy past few weeks…with more to come!


So, since I’ve been eating/breathing/sleeping photography, I thought I’d put together an informative post on how to have a great family photo shoot experience! (Oh, and all the pictures used here have been taken by me! None of them are from 2013, though, as some of those pics are surprises!)


1. Decide what you want

Are you wanting five or so family shots to use for Christmas cards? Are you wanting family shots, individual shots, couples shots, etc., all at the same time? Do you just need a few minutes, or do you want a full photo shoot (1-2 hours) with props included? Once you know what you want, you can make better decisions when it comes to setting up your shoot!


2. Choose a photographer

These days, you can actually find a lot of photographers on Facebook! Or do an online search for photographers in your area – both of these options allow you to view photos that have already been taken, and see if you like the photographer’s style! If you’ve seen pictures of friends and family that you love, ask them who took their pics, too. They might get something special for referring the business!


3. Communicate with your photographer

I LOVE to communicate through email with clients. Why? Because then I have all the specifics, right there in writing. If for any reason I can’t remember a detail or two, I can refer right back to the email. And it works both ways!

Also, when you’re getting close to your scheduled appointment, make sure you follow up with the photographer. Verify the date, time and location, and make sure the photographer has contact information for you and you have contact information for them, in case of any emergency cancellations.


4. Prepare in advance.

If you have shots you’d like yours to be similar to, save them and let the photographer see them.

Talk with your photographer about what you will receive with your session, and what is needed from you in advance or on the date of the shoot. Do you get a CD of all the photos taken? When do they need payment from you? How long will it take for you to get the pictures after the session?

Work on wardrobe selections and any props you might want to have with you. The last thing you want is to be late for your shoot (which will eat into the time the photographer has allotted out of their schedule for you) because you’re running around looking for matching clothes.

If you have little ones, make sure youΒ  have things ready with you to keep them happy. If your 2-year-old has missed their nap, is hungry and bored, you’re in for a BAD experience…and probably some bad photos, too.


5. Explain the session to your family

Lay out the expectations early, so everyone knows what’s going on and no one decides to be uncooperative at the last minute. Then, the day of the session, all the family members should be well-prepared to have a great shoot.


6. Don’t expect perfection

You may end up with some PERFECT shots. Who knows? It does happen! But sometimes the imperfect shots are so breathtaking that they’re amazing. And, despite following all of the items listed above, you may still have a few bumps along the way. But that’s okay! Only if you’re expecting perfection will any imperfections bother you!

So there you go! Can I just add right here that family photos are SO important. I don’t care if you want to lose 20 pounds, or don’t think you have clothes for a photo shoot, or don’t think you have the time for it…please do it anyways. The days you’re living right now will never come again, and trust me – you’ll wish you’d captured them.


Do YOU have any advice for folks about to embark on a photo shoot?

39 thoughts on “On Having a Fantastic Family Photo Shoot

  1. Good reminders, I keep waiting to lose that weight before I take the picture! I love showing the world my girls…they are so much cuter. Now that my girls are older with iphones they are taking control making sure that there are pics of me and the hubby! Beautiful work, as usual thanks for sharing.

  2. These photos are great, of course I have a few favorites and love the ideas for ‘poses’ πŸ™‚ Personally I have a phobia of my picture taken. I have a sense for when the camera is near and hide.. a terrible insecurity. I know some day I won’t be here for my family to remember and generations after, so pictures are so very very important. I would most certainly be a ‘difficult’ customer, but do LOVE photos of my family and one of my favorite parts of getting the mail come December is some of the photo cards of families. Great tips and ideas for photos!

  3. Great tips Kristen! I needed to know these. I always feel unprepared when it comes to having a family photo session. The photographer always has it together, but I am always so frazzled between finding the right outfit and location. I am always at the point of screaming! LOL This year should be interesting with the little one here. Last year we did the typical Sears photo shoot. This year I would love to do it outside of Sears or a franchise. I like the feel of a personal photographer.

    • It really can be lots of fun! My favorites are the families I have photographed over and over again. I’ve had the pleasure of watching their kids grow up, and of course, all the kids know exactly what I’m gonna want from them. Sears and other franchises definitely have their place, too, though!

  4. These are some great tips. Your photographs are excellent! My family hasn’t had photos done in a long time. It might be time to get some new photos taken!

  5. Wonderful tips from a photography, quite valuable, thanks. We absolutely loved our photographer for my daughter’s wedding in January. They were so personable, professional and helpful. They had a wedding emergency kit which came in handy for us. He knew how to fasten the bustle on the wedding gown and we did not, one of my favorite moments!

  6. Awesome photos! I love taking photos and right now I only use a little Canon point-and-shoot but I’d like to upgrade to a bigger camera, and learn more about photography. You are very talented at family photos, they are just gorgeous!

  7. First, such beautiful photos!!
    Second, this is a great reminder to make sure the family photos happen. I take lots of candid shots of the my daughters, a few of my husband and there is occasionally a couple of me… but all together is a different story. Our youngest is 6 months old and we only have 1 selfie/iphone photo of all 4 of us.
    Thank you for the informative and interesting read!

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