How to Prepare for Your Next Family Photoshoot


Scheduling a family photoshoot sounds like a piece of cake when you compare it to trying to get the whole family to sit still, only to end up with a blurry photo where everyone’s eyes are closed. But just because you’re not holding the camera doesn’t mean that a professional shoot won't have its challenges.

You might be in front of the camera, but there's often more to prepare than just your smile.

We teamed up with some great local NJ family photographers and asked them for advice to make your next photo session a breeze.

First off - When should I call a pro photographer rather than doing it myself?

Stacy Canzonieri - One of my goals is to get moms out from behind the camera more, so I think it's important to call a professional at least once a year to get family photos. This way she can get in the photo and really engage with her kids. How often do us moms get to actually see ourselves interacting with our children?? The way they look at us. It's so precious and every mom should have that. (Love this answer - so true!)

So maybe you’ve scheduled a session, but don’t know where to start - What’s the #1 question all your new clients should ask you?

Jennifer Davis - Do you include prints with your package?  And my answer is always absolutely, printing your photos is the only way to ensure your children will have them to enjoy for year to come!

Stacy Canzonieri - What should I wear for photos?

Christie Adams - I love when clients ask me for help in displaying their portraits! It is so much fun designing a wall display or coffee table book.  Digital files are nice to have, but they can't replace beautifully printed pieces. (Canvases and gallery mounts are my favorite!)

Andrew Macpherson - What's the best time of day to schedule photos?

Aneta (Yellow Lollipop Photography) - My common question is : What do we wear to the session? I believe the right outfits can make or break the look of the session. Personally I provide my clients with a PDF guide on what to wear and how to prepare themselves for the session. Often times they will email me their outfit choices and ask for advice as well. It's like a pre- session consultation. :)  

Lena Antaramian (Live Love Laugh Photos ) - There are A LOT of photographers out there, and there are lot of shooting and editing styles.  So when you look for a photographer you should make sure that you love their work and their style.  I think what new clients should ask me is how the photography experience I provide is different from what others provide.

People hire me because they are drawn to my style and to my work but they come back to me year after year because of the experience I provide.  When they hire Live Love Laugh Photos – be it for a newborn session, toddler pictures, or a family session – they know that I will be there every step of the way – from helping them pick out the perfect outfits that will enhance their images, to capturing beautiful family memories, to helping them select products to proudly display their images.

Shannon Mulligan - Do you offer prints/albums? Prints are so important to me and I want ALL of my clients to have prints of their images from a session. Wether it be a print, canvas or album, I want to give my clients a tangible piece of artwork.

For group photos, is it better to have the kids or whole family coordinate their outfits, or just let it be natural? Is there any type of clothing that looks best in photos?

Vikki Reed - It’s not really about what’s the best thing to wear, but rather things to avoid. (This is my taste - many shooters may not have an issue or may like the things I run away from.)  I don’t like matchy-matchy outfits unless it’s a concerted effort to seriously style the shot, almost like you’d style a magazine expose. Matching clothing reminds me of senior brunch on Sunday morning at the hotel or bad mall photos.  HOWEVER, if that floats your boat, then it’s my job to make it not look cheesy.  I also avoid fluorescent colors or crazy herringbone patterns unless I can really light for them.  One element can throw off a whole photo, and if you’re just doing a crazy fun family photo shoot you don’t want to get bogged down trying to compensate for that odd color or psychedelic pattern. I’m not a big fan of bland tones or the traditional khakis and blue shirts or blue jeans and white shirts.  

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Aneta (Yellow Lollipop Photography)- As part of my session pre-consultation, I work with my clients to pick the best outfits that not only look good but show off their and their child's personality. There is no sense in putting little Sally in a tutu if she hates it or doing a beach session in a suit! It will only result in stressed parents and cranky children. Another piece of advice is to coordinate the outfits based on the season and location of the session. For example, if you are shooting at the beach, peaches, pinks and blues look amazing!

Are props or toys too distracting or are they a good addition?

Vikki Reed -  Sometimes a toy you give is good to calm a child down and then you have to get it away to not be distracting based on what the backdrop and outfit are. You don’t want a big plastic junky toy in a shot that otherwise looks timeless. 

Aneta (Yellow Lollipop Photography) - I absolutely love props and I am a self proclaimed prop queen. :) I think the right types of props can grab kids attention, arouse their curiosity, and make them laugh. I would advise against over-using them to the point when the main focus becomes a prop and not the child.

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There you have it! I hope these answers help to ease you into you next (or maybe first) family photoshoot. Ask the photographer anything you want to know, so that when the day comes, all goes smoothly.

Relax and let the photographer do the work - that’s what they’re there for. Then you’ll have beautiful, professional quality photos to include in your next Shortcake album.

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