Fun, not stuffy - 8 tips for planning the perfect family photo shoot

Do you dread the idea of a family photo shoot? Maybe you’ve had bad experiences in the past, or can’t stand the idea of standing awkwardly in front of the camera? Or maybe you love the idea of photos, but wonder how your kids will behave and whether you’ll be able to get the photos you want?

Let’s turn that upside down and make your photo shoot a fun experience that your whole family LOVES. Use it as a chance to focus on each other, remember how amazing these people are, and to fall in love all over again.

I’ll take care of making this an amazing experience once you arrive. Here are some tips for what you can do to prepare for a photo shoot so that you are relaxed, happy, and ready for some fun!


1. Involve the whole family

Well obviously, if you do a family photo shoot it will include the whole family – but involve them all in the planning too. Tell them about the photo shoot, and get them excited. Your attitude is contagious, so frame it as a fun experience where you get to spend time together (‘cos that’s what it is!).

Let them help with clothing choices, poses, props and locations. It will make the photo shoot feel like a team effort and not something they’re being forced to do – and you might be surprised what they can come up with! Ask if they have any photos they would love to have taken, like kissing Mummy or playing a favourite game. Obviously your six-day-old or six-month-old might not be much help with this, but your three-year-old’s insight might amaze you!


2. Plan your day

Plan the timing of your session so that everyone can be well fed and rested. If you have dinner planned for the end of your shoot, make sure you’ve all had a good, hearty snack beforehand. Nothing ruins a fun time like a bad case of the hangries! Don’t expect children to change their routine for the day.

Make sure you'll have plenty of time to get dressed and ready beforehand. Have your clothes clean and ironed and ready to go in advance. If you arrive feeling rushed and flustered, you'll find it much harder to enjoy your family time together.

Get your hair and makeup professionally done, if this will help you feel and look great! (I can help you arrange this if you like, including having a hair and makeup artist come to your home or my studio.)


3. Let your kids be kids

I always try to capture at least a couple of more traditional looking-at-the-camera family portraits, and I have lots of tricks up my sleeve for helping to do this. We’ll usually do one of these right towards the start, while your kids are fresh and at their happiest, and sometimes one further into your shoot if your children started off feeling a little reserved and slowly warmed up to the fun of the shoot.

The rest of the time though, just have fun together! Follow my lead and listen to my tips (and encourage your kids to do the same), but most of all, have fun being together and enjoying each other!

Stop worrying about whether your kids are smiling, and just be happy yourself. If you are having fun, chances are your kids will relax and have fun too.

Don’t stress if things don’t seem to be going to plan. Often the unexpected moments create the most memorable, personality-filled photos.

Let your unique brand of crazy shine through!


4. Cheese is for crackers

Please, please, please don’t tell your kids to say “cheese”! Nothing ruins a moment like forced, cheesy smiles! I have lots of practice in getting REAL smiles from your children, so just let me interact with them and trust that they are doing their thing. If they are feeling your love and feeling happy, smiles are the easy part!


5. Bring their favourites

For young kids, bring along their favourite stuffed toy or cuddly. You might be surprised at the hidden talents their favourite toy has for operating a camera and helping me take photos! It will also help them feel relaxed and comfortable during the experience.

If your child uses a dummy/pacifier, try to keep this buried out of sight. Stuffed toys look cute in photos and will bring back all sorts of memories of this time in their lives; their face covered by a dummy doesn’t work so well!

(Dummies in newborn photo shoots are amazing though! Even if you don’t use one much at home, it’s worth bringing one along to your photo shoot for helping to settle baby between poses.)


6. Plan some fun

Is there an activity you love doing together? Plan your shoot around it! (Or part of the shoot – we can do more formal photos too.)

Your favourite sport, blowing bubbles, playing a board game, swinging and sliding, family trampolining, piggy back rides, or having a picnic - show off why you are unique and what makes you the happiest.


7. A special note to dads

Don’t just tolerate this – get right on board and treasure the time with your family! I know it can feel awkward being in front of the camera, but trust me, if you focus on your family and how much you love them, you’ll forget all about the camera and just have fun. Once you see the amazing photographs, you’ll be even more glad you did it.

And mums – if dad is feeling a bit half-hearted, let him know WHY it’s important to you. If he understands how much it means to you, he’s more likely to value it too. Let him have a say in it, and value his opinion.


8. Trust your photographer

You hire a professional for a reason! Relax and have fun together, and let your photographer do all the hard work!

Laugh. Tickle. Squeeze. Play. Hug. Kiss. Snuggle. Breathe them in. Be fully present in the moment.

Fall in love all over again.


Do you have any other burning questions about a photo shoot? Click here to schedule a planning call to ask away!

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