Pick a location
I know this seems pretty standard, picking a location, but it's really about what you hope to get out of your family photography session. When you pick the perfect photography location for you and your family, it will typically be aligned with your vision.
What kind of memories are you hoping to make and look back on? To share later in life? To tell stories about?
Urban Photography Locations
Are you seeking something a little more urban and upbeat? Urban photography locations can offer plenty of sharp lines, reflections off of buildings, a coffee house vibe, funky framing, stairwells, pedways, colorful signage, and so on. Urban photography locations are well worth considering if you're seeking a little bit more energy or a journalistic vibe.
In-Nature Photography Locations
This seems to be a favourite for anyone wanting to create family photos that give a single focus and eliminate all other visual distractions; no extra people in the background, no photobombers, no parking ordeals, less traffic, and the like.
If you decide to head into nature, my guess is you'll be seeking out a golden field, waterfalls, mountain tops, lakes, or even a lovely forest. Having your family photos taken in nature creates a serene and quiet experience for you and your family, most often during the softest light of the day - the golden hour.
In-Home Photography Locations
Yes, you see your own home every single day. Because of that, I can only guess that you might not see the beauty in it as I do. Some of the most beautifully authentic images I've had the chance to take have been in my clients' homes. To give you an idea of what some families capture:
- playing a board game at the kitchen table with the evening sun streaming through
- baking together with the icing bowl ready for your kids to dig in
- setting up your day with sprinklers, bubbles, yard games, and sand toys
- gearing up to go sledding with your pups alongside you
- dancing together with tons of emotion, expression, and laughter
Show up on time
Since I can't control the daylight hours, showing up on time can be one of the biggest things you can do to get the most out of your family photography session.
We want to the golden hour, the last light of the day, and the softness of the sunset. Once it's gone, it's gone!
By showing up late, you remove from yourself the opportunity to get as many family photos as possible, but also the chance to get the incredible colors that happen in the late evening.
If there was only one tip I could give you to help you prepare for your family photography session, it would be to show up on time! Plan to arrive a little bit early even! You'll thank yourself, I promise.
Dress for success
Knowing what to wear for your family photos can be daunting sometimes, especially when you have more than just yourself to take care of.
So what should you wear?
For your family photos, you'll want to wear coordinated outfits but stay away from being too matchy-matchy. For example, if you choose earth tones, stick to a theme of soft browns, olive greens, burnt oranges. You don't all need to have the exact same shirt on, this takes away from your individual personalities. Instead, you want to complement each other as you stand together.
It might even be useful to know what to avoid wearing in family photo sessions; large logos, gaudy prints, overbearing jewelry, glitter, dark nail polish, body bronzers, or any accessories that take attention away from your faces or interactions. You want your family photos to bring all the attention to who you are as a family and how you interact together.
Bring props and accessories
By now you should have a vision in mind and what it is you'd like to create!
This is where you can add on to that vision by including different props and accessories. It's an easy way to create a variety in your images without ever having to change your outfit. Think of what you could bring that will give you a sequence of different photosets. You could bring hats, scarves, jackets, alternate shoes and the like.
For props, it can help you create an entirely new scene. How so?
Think of how different it would be to have one scene of you and your family having a picnic, or sitting together on a blanket facing a beach. Then think about how props will bring a certain emotion or how they will create a new story, this should help you explore new ideas.
It's equally an easy way to keep your kids engaged!
Have your kids bring their favourite stuffed animal, blanket, doll, action figure, or anything they'd like to show off or play with. When kids are engaged in what they normally do or are playing with what they love, they forget about the camera and just start being who they are. That is what you want to capture.
Be ready to interact or do an activity together
Much like you, I can't say I'm a huge fan of overly posed pictures. It's especially true when it comes to family photos.
As you plan and prepare for your family photography session, think about what you can do together as a family that will create intrigue, motion, laughter, and any other true expression you seek.
Of course, you can expect a few posed photos but for the most part, you will be walking together, hugging your kids, swinging your kids, giving your kids those huge smoochy kisses, exploring the area, holding hands, and being who you really are.
This is what we want to capture. So if you're planning on getting the most out of your family photography session, consider what you can do together or what you might already do together as a family. This is where the magic happens.
Although you may be nervous about your family portrait session, knowing what to expect can help calm your nerves and help you show up at your best.
The best way to prepare for your family photography session is to remember to be you , in your most natural state. That means deciding on what it is you actually want and the memories you want to create together. From there, it should be much easier to pull together your outfits and your planned activities.