Family Session Prep Guide

No matter what happens during your session, the photos are going to be unique, beautiful and full of life – just like your family. My vision for your session is to create a positive environment for everyone and I'm going to put out every effort to create a wonderful experience. And that starts here...



I know that’s much easier said than done. You’ve likely looked all over Pinterest and thought “I want our pictures to look like that!”. But even those families whose images you’re envying… they didn’t imagine it exactly that way. Because life unravels the way it wants to and really, no one can control it.  


You don’t need to worry about where the kids are standing, whether or not they’re looking at the camera, that they’re not doing the activity they’re “supposed” to be doing. Kids do whatever the heck they want. Photographers who document families know this, they expect it. Chances are they depend on it! The “imperfections” you think you see; that’s where all the magic lies. Kids who are interacting with their environment in an authentic way are actually the easiest to photograph. Along similar lines, don’t try and direct your family or tell them to move even if it appears that they’re in the photographer’s way. Sometimes when it looks like something is obstructing my view, it’s actually part of the composition I’m working to create. A good photographer will move THEMSELVES and if they need you to move, they’ll tell you! Your job is just to enjoy your family and be yourself. Leave the hard stuff to the person you hired. What's a sure fire way to bring out all the tears in your session? Scolding your child for being distracted in a new environment. What's sure to ruin a photograph? That "mom" look... you know, with the raised eye brows and pursed lips. That one. That one that says, I'm going to so ground you in the next two minutes. 


If you aren’t sure what to do, just talk to each other and play with your kids. Want photos of you looking happy and natural? Be happy and natural. I know it’s strange at first to have a camera pointed your way and usually the first 15 minutes of a photo shoot are a little awkward and unnatural – that’s okay. Everyone will warm up eventually. So try not to worry that you’re not doing the right thing or that nothing exciting is happening. Nothing exciting has to happen! Say something silly, tickle a shy toddler, ask your overly descriptive kindergartner to tell you a story. Or when in doubt, just let the kids take the lead.


Kids have got the documentary photography thing nailed. They don’t fake it for anyone and they always know how to find an adventure in the most ordinary places. While I highly encourage letting your kids explore and play and “do their thing”, you’ll ultimately still want some pictures where you’re all in the frame. Be patient, it will happen. If you have a child who really wants to go their own way, just follow them. Trying to convince a 3 year old to come stand in the perfect light next to mom and dad is just not going to work. Even if it does, the results will look forced. It’s much easier for mom and dad to join the 3 year old. Besides, children have a fantastic sense of adventure. Just keep calm and follow the toddler. That starts with your arrival too. If we only have two minutes of guaranteed focus from your adventurous two year old, wait to get out of the car until we have a chance to talk and know exactly where we are going on location. 


This may be, hands down, the most common question any photographer ever hears. And honestly, you are over thinking it. Remember the Pinterest family I told you to forget about? The one that you've been picturing on your walls? Those boys in perfectly pressed oxfords and adorable bow ties truly are preciousness perfected, but they aren't a representation of your children. We're going to photograph you, your family. So that outfit in your closet that is your "little bit dressy but not trying too hard" outfit... that's the one you wear. Be comfortable, because when you feel great about what you are wearing and you feel COMFORTABLE in it, you also look confident in it.


Do your children usually wear matching white shirts and blue jeans? Are they typically in corduroy vests and loafers? If the answer is typically not, then best just skip the hundred dollar duds and just go for something that coordinates without matching. Similar colors, different patterns, different textures. Pick a theme: bold primaries, cool blues and violets or maybe subtle neutrals. Remember that each of you has your own sense of individuality and flair and try to find a way to bring that forward. If you're still lost, just shoot me a message and we can brainstorm together! I can come up with great color schemes for your family to be coordinated without matchy-matchy. 

Brittney HogueComment