As a lifestyle photographer, taking pictures of families and children is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. Family sessions with little ones can be a little chaotic—what with throwing children in the air, running after toddlers and sometimes wiping tears—but what I hear again and again when going through photos with my families is that, despite the chaos, there is so much beauty and love in the photographs. I guess that’s why they say, “The days are long but the years are short.”
That said, here are some of my favorite tips for getting the most out of your family photo sessions.
• Clothing: Coordinating the family’s clothing a few days prior to your session will allow for ease of getting ready on the day of your shoot. For moms, you want to feel confident and beautiful in what you are wearing, so selecting your outfit first might be a good starting point. It’s helpful to line everyone’s outfits up together so you can see the full picture. I have seen families make an appointment with a stylist at Nordstrom and have a lot of fun with the whole process. This can also take the pressure off choosing outfits yourself prior to your session!
• Positive expectations: Children feed off of our energy, especially the energy from their parents. Despite the pressure you might feel or the concerns your have about uncooperative kiddos, setting positive expectations and sharing excitement prior to your session with the rest of the family can make the experience enjoyable more than laborious.
• Kids will be kids: Some children take some time to warm up to the whole photo experience, while others like to show off. Engaging in play in these moments can help shift the mischievous antics and allow space for children to feel more comfortable.
• Take the pressure off: Do what is needed to take the pressure off the day of your family session. Whether that means having a nanny or grandparent come over to help with food or getting kids ready, or (my personal favorite) having your favorite at-home glam service take care of Mom’s hair and makeup, take the pressure off where you can.
• Food: Making sure our children are well-fed prior to their session is key! That "hangry" feeling is real for any age, especially kiddos. Often this gets overlooked for sunset sessions, because a family dinner might be planned after. But, for our children, having them well-fed prior to the session will set everyone up for success.
• Photographer: Choosing a photographer whose body of work you love with a personality that is a good fit for your family is a good starting point and will create an atmosphere where: 1) you can trust the photographer, and 2) your family can interact naturally with each other and your photographer, thereby capturing the most authentic and beautiful portraits.
Most importantly, you are taking photos with your family that you will have for the rest of your life. Have fun and after you’ve done all the prep work, enjoy. Be lighthearted and affectionate with your family, and let your photographer take care of the rest!
Katee Grace is a lifestyle photographer based in Los Angeles.