How to Prep for a Family Photography Session


You did your research. You reviewed portfolios, websites, and Instagram feeds. You ironed out the details with your chosen family photographer. So now what? Just sit around and wait for your session to get here? I think not! In my experience, family photography sessions run smoothest when you do a few simple things to prepare. I’m excited to share my top tips with you here!

1. Plan your outfits early

Choosing outfits for your family photos is a whole other post. (For real, check it out here!) The important part of this tip is that you pick those outfits early. Think about the vibe you’re going for in your photos – formal, casual, etc. – and compare that to the weather you’re expecting. Then get to work! Ideally, it’d be great if you had all the outfits together at least a week early so that you have some wiggle room should you need to make adjustments.

Selecting outfits for family photography session

2. Prep your family

This is certainly a generalization, but I typically find that moms are very excited for photos, dads are not (I see you, Dad!) and kids are, well, kids. With the right prep, they usually do pretty well. I recommend letting them know a few days ahead of time that your family is going to have photos taken by a professional photographer. The session will be filled with fun, games, and giggles. You’ll be with them the entire time and can’t wait for the photographer to capture their sweet smile on camera. Depending on their ages, I also recommend allowing them to help pick out their outfit. Want your son in a collared shirt? Great, give him some choices and see which one he likes best. (In our family, the dinosaur button-up was the winner!) This gives them some control and creates buy-in which usually leads to happier kiddos.

Family laughing during a photography session

3. Think about what makes them laugh

Asking kids to stand still and say cheese really isn’t my style. Sure, I’ll always get that shot, but it never ends up being my favorite. Instead, I love capturing those genuine smiles and belly laughs. In order to create that, I often rely on parents’ help. (I have some jokes, but you know your kids best!) In the days leading up to your session, I encourage you to think about the things that your kids find hilarious. In our house, all it takes is me exclaiming “golly gee willikers!” and my son laughs so hard that he gives himself the hiccups. Think about silly words, their favorite jokes, where they’re ticklish, anything that will make them laugh. Make a mental note of these or even put them in a note on your phone so you don’t forget. We’re going to need them!

Parents with giggling kids during a family photography session

4. Lay everything out the night before

This is an especially important tip if you’ve opted for a morning session. The last thing you want is to be scrambling trying to get ready while simultaneously looking for someone’s bow, another person’s belt, and someone else’s shoes! To avoid this, gather everything you plan to wear in one place. Lay out all the outfits including belts, jewelry, shoes, etc. Make sure you have everything together and ready to go. When it’s time to get dressed, everyone can grab their outfits from this central location so nothing gets lost in the interim.

Outfits for family photography session

5. Arrive 15-30 minutes early

Family photography sessions are supposed to be especially fun. Nothing puts a damper on that fun quite like stress. Stressing about being late, stressing about parking, stressing because your kids aren’t cooperating, we don’t want any of that! To help avoid this, figure out what time you would need to leave to be on time and then shoot to leave 15-30 minutes early. (If you’re a family that’s always late, go for 30.) Best case, you arrive early and have some time to relax and play before the session starts. Worst case, you have some extra time built in to deal with the unexpected.

Extended family smiling during a sunny family photography session


There you have it, 5 tips for preparing for your next family photography session. I hope these are helpful and that they’ll assist you in having a great time at your next session. If you aren’t already on my calendar, please reach out to get a session scheduled. I can’t wait to serve your family!

Outfits for family photography session


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more about me

I've been navigating military life with my family since 2008. In that time, I went from a full-time classroom teacher to an online course designer to a photographer. Actually, I still teach a little math on the side because I just love it too much!

Through it all, I've discovered how passionate I am about connecting with military families. Whether it's taking photos at a retirement ceremony, coaching a fellow milspouse photographer, or just grabbing coffee with a new squadron friend, I love this community. And as a teacher at heart, I'm excited to use this space to share what I've learned about business and life with you.


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