The Family Photoshoot Checklist

Getting Ready for your Family Photoshoot

You've discovered a photographer, worked out the details, booked a date, and now you are ready for your family photoshoot! Congratulations! The first steps towards your family photoshoot are out of the way. Now you can get prepared for your fantastic family portrait session. This checklist will help you prepare for and feel confident during your family portrait session.

Things to do before your Session

1. Make hair, nail, and/or makeup appointments for you and your family before your session. Make sure your hair is done how you like it, beards are trimmed, and nail polish is touched up. These are all little details, but they show up in your final prints and we want you to look your best.

2. Plan your outfits a week in advance. Don’t wait until the last day to pick out your wardrobe. You want all the details worked out in advance so that you can wake up feeling prepared and not anxious on the day of your session. You also may find you need 'one last thing' and it's better to know that well in advance. We will cover what to wear in the next section.

3. Brainstorm about specific props, mementos, or special types of images you want captured. Think of what would help to make these images special to you. Are there certain items (like heirloom jewelry or a special vehicle) that you want with you? Some families know they want a very specific type of photograph taken. If you have these preferences, be sure to brainstorm them in advance and let me know as well!

4. Get a good rest and a hearty meal beforehand!


How to Dress for Your Session

1. Dress for the weather. We want you to be happy and comfortable for the shoot.

2. Don’t wear matching clothes. No more jeans-and-matching-shirts these days! Instead, wear colours in a complementary colour palette, such as earth tones and neutrals.

3. No shirts with writing on them.

4. Be careful about undergarments. Choose an ensemble that properly covers your undergarments, in all types of movement scenarios. Try checking your outfit in different lighting situations to make sure your shirt and/or pants don't become see-through in direct sunlight or in harsh light.

5. For people who want to wear dresses, I generally suggest you wear ones that are medium or long in length. Short dresses will be a challenge when we do any seated photos, so keep that in mind.

6. Wear comfortable (but complementary) shoes and clothes you can move in. If your dress gets suddenly too short when you bend over, or your pants are too tight to sit down in, opt for more comfortable pieces. You want to feel comfortable in what you are wearing and not needing to think about re-adjusting it all the time. Also, be prepared to move!

7. Opt for accessories! Bowties, suspenders, hats, flower headbands, chunky scarves, beautiful flowing dresses and skirts—these create visual interest and movement in your photos and really help the images stand apart. Photos are a special occasion; take advantage of this fun opportunity to dress up a little more.

What to Bring to Your Photo Session

1. Any personal appearance touchup items you might want, including things like lipstick or a hairbrush and makeup touchup kit.

2. Snacks on snacks on snacks, and if necessary, treats to bribe kiddos with! (However, it’s best not to tell kids about the treats before the session; wait until the kids start getting fatigued before you pull out candy card! They’ll usually perk right up then!)

3. Water and more water. We don't want people to get dehydrate and spacey during the photoshoot, so make sure everyone has enough water with them for the length of the shoot.

4. Walkable shoes. We will probably be walking short/moderate distances, often on unpaved trails, possibly with hills. Walkable shoes are a must!

5. A change of clothes for everyone (especially the kids), in case anyone gets muddy or dirty. As a photographer, I love it when kids interact fully with their surroundings, and I’m thrilled to photograph them playing in the water or running through the grass. As a parent, you might not be too keen to let them back into your car, covered in water or mud. Feel free to bring a change of clothes or shoes. Maybe even a towel. You never know!

How to Pose During Your Photo Session

1. No need to ‘Cheese’! I’m chasing natural interactions and unposed moments. I strive to capture and encourage authentic expressions. No need to coax your children into fake smiles!

2. On a related note, children around the ages of 5-10 will sometimes try to “cheese” in the photos, because that’s what they’ve been conditioned to do when they see a camera! Help me create more candid shots by interacting playfully with your children.

3. Laugh, play, tickle, and snuggle. This is how we’ll capture the REAL moments.

4. Not everyone has to be looking at the camera. I like to especially encourage the parents to focus on their partner and their kid(s). This creates a more genuine connection.

5. When in doubt, just smile and look at your family lovingly.

6. Stand close together. Actually, as close as possible :)

7. Relax, slow down, and don’t force anything. Don’t feel pressured to make everything perfect! Just be present with your family and I’ll do the rest. This is supposed to be fun and relaxed. And don’t stress if any of the kids get fussy! As a former reporter and thoroughly experienced photographer, I’ve seen it all before, trust me. Just snuggle your kiddos and we can still capture beautiful images :)

8. Expect me to move you around to different spots to capture images. The more variety we get, the bigger your gallery and the more great shots we have the opportunity to create together!

The last and MOST IMPORTANT STEP in this process. Enjoy your photos! People can get stressed out being in front of the camera, but in reality, we are just going to hang out in a park with family. It just so happens we will take a few photos while we are there. So relax, smile, and breathe. Let's have some fun together and create some beautiful art of you and your family.

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