Preparing For Family Photos Tips

For a lot of people, scheduling family portraits and preparing for family photos can be stressful and time consuming. What do you wear? What time of day should you schedule? How much time will you need? Where should you take them? What’s the weather going to be like? Will my 3 year old throw a temper tantrum?

There’s a lot to think about, so I tried to think of some of those questions and help provide answers. In the end, your photoshoot should be fun and relaxing! Follow these tips below in preparing for your family photos.

1. Think About Your Family Photos

What do you want from your family shoot? Would you prefer a casual shoot at home or a full production, styled shoot on location with props? Once you come up with a vision for your shoot, you’ll also want to think about how feasible/realistic it s. Some ideas sound great in your head, but when it comes time to implement them, they can be overwhelming. Also, think about the logistics. Do you have kids? Will you have elderly family members with you for extended family photos? If you do, you probably don’t want to go hiking deep in the mountains and on tough rated trails (especially on hot Arizona days) with young kids or elderly family members.

2. Find the Right Family Photographer

It’s important to hire a professional photographer that will capture your family and your vision how you want, and deliver a professional product that you’re excited to display for years to come. Also, make sure you get a photographer that can /and does shoot in the style that you want. Want light and airy looking photos? Don’t get a photographer that has a portfolio specializing in dark/moody portraits. Also…and this should probably be #1, but find a photographer who is experienced in shooting portraits (and families).

3. Pick a Location (or two) For Your Family Photos

Talk with your photographer about locations that make sense. If you’re doing it outside of your house, do you have a favorite place, or somewhere that’s special to you? Have you seen photos from locations that you like? If you’re having trouble selecting a location, opt for a local park or some other  public outdoor area. If you or your photographer isn’t too familiar with the area, take a scouting trip to the selection area ahead of time if you can. Here’s a blog post on some of the best photography locations around Phoenix.

4. Try to Plan Ahead Several Weeks in Advance To Make Sure Your Looks Are Ready

Need a haircut? Or did you get a bad haircut? Planning ahead will give you time to get one, or let it grow out. Don’t forget the details – take time to hit the salon for a manicure. You’d be surprised how much your hands end up showing in photos.

5. Start Collecting Any Props You Want To Use

This might be some simple items to help tell your story (chalkboard signs, hats) or even more elaborate productions (larger props like vehicles and animals). Start planning on what you’ll need to make sure you’ll have it in time, and if not, what your next options will be.

6. Be Patient With Kids

Kids can’t easily control how they feel/react, especially in front of strangers and in the spotlight (in front of the camera). Try to pick a time of day that they are typically in their happiest/best mood. It might be after they’ve had a nap, or after they’ve had a full breakfast or lunch. As well all know, things happen when you don’t want them too, so you can probably bet that if they’re going to be fussy or uncooperative, it will be the day of the photoshoot.

7. Make Sure Everyone is Happy and Ready to Go

This especially includes having a meal or snack. No one (me included) is particularly happy, or at their best when they’re hungry. It’s always a good idea to have snack ready (and even use them as treats/bribes for kids). Remember, your mood will show in your photos.


8. It’s OK to Coordinate Your Family’s Wardrobe, But Don’t Overdo it

While it may sound fun for everyone to match (and even be appropriate for certain settings/themes), there’s a difference between coordinating and matching exactly. Instead of matching, think about choosing colors that compliment each other (and that your family will be happy/feel comfortable in…again, see #6) such as pastels or similar shades of the same color. Each person doesn’t have to match exactly, and most of the time, it’s more aesthetically pleasing if you don’t. Bonus: It’s never a bad idea to bring a backup, in case you get dirty or (drop ketchup on your shirt from your preshoot meal 😊 ), if children have an accident, or if you’ve planned out several different looks with your photographer. I also recommend having some color in your photos, as they’ll turn out much better than if you’re wearing muted/dark tones.

9. Dress for the Weather

This one is pretty simple and self explanatory. Take a look at the upcoming weather forecast and try to plan your outfits accordingly. If it’ll be cooler in the fall, or an early morning shoot, you will want to dress more warmly than you would for a session in the summer. With Arizona weather this may not make much of an impact, but a long sleeve shirt/thing sweater to keep from freezing helps keep people comfortable and happy (see #6).

10. It May Sound Stressful, But Just Relax, Have Fun and Enjoy Your Family Photos

I personally feel some of the best photos, and some of my favorites, are the candid ones. These show your family’s personality, and uniqueness. I always like to do a few posed ones, but I like to include candids also. And, while shooting candids, try not to focus on them, and just have fun (and forget the photographer is there). You’ll get the best results and the “real you” in photos that way.

I hope this helps you in preparing for family photos. Do you have any other suggestions, or questions? Drop them in the comments below, or send me a message. I’m happy to help!

Ready to schedule your family photos? Let’s talk.


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