8 Simple Tips for a Relaxed Family Photo Session

Jun 13, 2023 | Family Photography

A family photo session can be a wonderful opportunity to capture precious moments and preserve memories. Yet, it’s not uncommon to feel a wave of apprehension ahead of your portrait session. What if my kids don’t cooperate? What if we don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera?

Making sure you have a memorable and smooth portrait session is incredibly important to me. I have a very relaxed approach to family photography anyway as I want to capture authentic moments of connection between you and your loved ones, and these don’t happen with static poses and cheesy grins at the camera in my opinion. I take a lifestyle approach to family photo sessions and will provide some gentle guidance throughout our time together. And in addition to this, I strongly believe that with some preparation and a few simple tips, your family photo session can be transformed into a relaxed, enjoyable experience.

Continue reading for my top tips…

How do I prepare for a family photo session?

1. Choose the right photographer for your family photo session

The first step to a relaxed family photo session is selecting a photographer who aligns with your vision and with whom you feel comfortable and connected. Check their portfolio, read reviews, and maybe arrange a pre-session connect.

Your experience is paramount to me and from our very first contact, I’d like to ensure that you feel well taken care of. My sessions are designed to make you feel at ease and simply enjoy some quality time with your loved ones. I’ll be there to take photos along the way and record these wonderful moments. I am grateful for the lovely reviews I receive from families I’ve photographed and they typically comment on being easy and lovely work with from the outset.

When you first reach out, I always offer to hop on the phone so we can meet and ensure we are a good fit for each other. Answering questions and talking things through on the phone is so much easier and more personal than an email exchange. I also offer a complimentary pre shoot consultation so we can chat about outfit options and final logistics a couple of weeks ahead of our family photo session together.

2. Pick a location that’s close to your heart

An ideal location contributes significantly to the comfort and relaxation of your family. I love taking photos of in my clients’ homes. Not only is this where the most memories are made, but it’s also convenient and comfortable for you – everything is in easy reach and there’s no need to pack everything up and head to a studio.

Alternatively you might have an outdoors location in mind that hold special significance to you – such as your local park where you spend many weekends together. The familiarity of the surroundings certainly helps you and your children feel relaxed and at ease.

I am always happy to make recommendations depending on where you live – have a look at this post on my favourite locations around West London.

3. Have full bellies and come with snacks

Especially with little ones we want to make sure we avoid them being “hangry” 😉 for newborns and younger babies I always recommend feeding them around 30 minutes before our session. For older children, and especially if we are heading outdoors, you will want to pack a few light snacks. Consider snacks that are less likely to stain fingers and clothes, such as crackers, nuts, bananas or fruit / yoghurt squeezy pouches. Definitely bring some water too.

What should I wear to a family photography session?

4. Coordinate Outfits, But Don’t Match

I recommend planning your clothing well in advance. It’s really important that your children feel comfortable in their clothing, as do you, as this can have a huge impact on how much you love your family photos.

When you book your family photo session with me, I provide plenty of guidance. I don’t prescribe exact outfit choices but I do love making recommendations if you would like to achieve a certain look and a style that reflects what you have seen in my portfolio. I am always on hand to help you decide what can work best and make suggestions.

Generally, identical clothing can appear artificial and forced which is why I recommend to choose coordinating outfits. My favourite colours are neutrals, denim and whites, and sometimes black – my main focus is for you to feel like yourself, feel comfortable but also elegant and a bit special for the occasion!

I share more resources in other blog posts about such as this one about what to wear for newborn photos and this one on maternity options.

How do I keep my kids happy during a photoshoot?

5. Prepare your children

If you have toddlers, just let them know in advance what we are going to do. You could simply describe the upcoming experience as a playful meet-up at home or in the park with a new friend who will be taking your photos. Reassure them that this will be an enjoyable event filled with fun activities and games, keeping the experience light-hearted and engaging.

6. Be yourselves

A family photo session is about capturing the essence of your family. You don’t have to try to look picture-perfect. Be yourselves, interact naturally, and allow me to capture your authentic interactions. The best photos always come from genuine moments of laughter, affection, or even contemplation. I will give you gentle prompts to make you feel at ease and capture everyone in the best light.

7. Go easy on discipline during our family photo session

Maintaining a relaxed atmosphere during a family photo session might require a slight shift in your parenting tactics. Allow kids to be kids — to giggle, fidget, and explore their surroundings. Encourage their spontaneity and creativity. If they need guidance, provide it gently and with a sense of fun. The goal is to capture your family’s authentic interactions and expressions, and that includes the playful and imperfect moments too!

I find that children will feel if you are stressed, feed off of your attitude and are not likely to respond any better to being reprimanded if they found the situation already a little challenging. Having photographed many families and being a mother to two children myself, I do have plenty of little tricks to keep everyone engaged and we will take breaks as necessary as well.

8. Trust your photographer

I have worked with many families with children of all ages and always take a relaxed and natural approach. I will guide you through the process, encourage you to interact with each other while I take candid shots, and sometimes suggest a particular pose if I think it can work well for you. I pour my heart into every portrait session and ensure your family photo session is a success!

After our session together: what can I do with my family pictures?

Preserving your family photographs for your children to enjoy in the future

Envision a future moment with your children, years down the line, unfolding these photographs or flipping through a cherished family album together. That’s not quite an experience you’d get from a MacBook, is it? 😉 Albums and prints offer a tangible, timeless medium to encapsulate your family’s shared love and history. Thanks to my father and his persistence to carry around his camera everywhere, I have lots of beautiful photos when I was little, often showing memories I wouldn’t even recall otherwise. They are some of my most treasured possessions and I love sharing them with my children also. An album is a beautiful way to round off our session together and I’d be delighted to chat you through bespoke options.

You might also enjoy the following posts:

4 simple tips for family photography

5 must listen parenthood podcasts

About me

I am a family, maternity and newborn photographer based in Chelsea, London. Specialising in lifestyle maternity, baby & toddler, and family photography, I cover Central and West London, such as Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, Wandsworth, Battersea, Clapham, Richmond, Westminster, Mayfair and Notting Hill. Please do still get in touch if you live outside of these areas but would be interested in a family photoshoot together. Not quite ready to book? Follow me on Instagram and let’s stay in touch.

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