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Tips for A Successful Family Photo Session :: Photography

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We are well into fall, and if you haven’t already had your professional family photos taken, chances are you have them booked in time for ordering holiday cards. Here are a few tips I’ve learned as both a photographer and a mother to help your session go as smoothly as possible.

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1. Coordinate outfits, don’t duplicate. Unless you have twins, no one in your group should be wearing the exact same outfit. This will give your images a more natural look while still looking great printed on your walls. When planning, I like to start with my own outfit (or the mom), then plan everyone else accordingly.

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2. Don’t break the bank. Investing in family photos is important to capture a time in your lives that will never be here again, but spending hundreds on new outfits for everyone isn’t as important and will limit what you can spend on finding a quality photographer.  Go through your wardrobes and pick items that still looks fresh and fit well, then determine if you need to pick up a few items to complete the look. It’s also much easier to select from your current wardrobes than to plan everything from scratch.

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3. Be open to input. Your children or spouse may want to choose what they wear, so let them have a say. You want their little personalities to shine through anyway, so if the day of your shoot your 4 year old insists on wearing his/her favorite red rubber boots, go with it! Having a happy child in your images is more important than everyone coordinating perfectly, and you’ll look back more fondly at those red rubber boots in ten years than your sad, sour faced, coordinated little darling.

4. Go with the flow, and let your photographer do the work. Your kids will get overwhelmed with too many voices directing them, and so will you. Just relax, enjoy your family, enjoy the moment, and try to refrain from shouting smile before every shutter click. And if your kids don’t want anything to do with a camera, that’s ok too! Journalistic or lifestyle photos can be very captivating and beautiful, many people end up preferring those images to the posed shots anyway!

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5. Keep snacks and water nearby in case anyone needs a quick refueling. It’s amazing how exhausting having your photo taken can get in a very short time, and it may be necessary to keep your kiddos (or you husband!) happy for the duration of the session. Try to avoid foods that might stain teeth or tongues though, some of us learn that the hard way.

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6. Don’t forget your spouse. Sometimes we get so caught up with our love for our children, we end with tons of pictures of them and none of us with our spouses, who are supposed to come first anyway! Take just a quick minute to capture a shot of you together, and print it.

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If professionally portraits aren’t in your budget this year, don’t worry. Next month I will be demonstrating how to take your own quality self portrait just in time for holiday cards.

Photos of my family by Sarah Waggoner

October 24, 2013

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  1. Aysha says:

    Wow, those are some very beautiful pictures! I love the natural, soft light and everyones outfits. And your daugther seems so lovely and full of life and energy. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing your valuable tips!
    – Aysha @ http://www.thecreativemuslimah.blogspot.com

  2. Tina says:

    Just lovely, thanks for the great tips! I especially like the one about going with the flow….as a control freak who always needs things “perfect,” I have really tried lately to not freak out if one of my kids has a “red rubber boot” moment. You are soooo right…..a happy kid in pictures in red boots is so much more important than the “perfect” shot….I will keep trying to relax and go with it 🙂

    • Kim says:

      I am the same way, Tina and I’ve learned that my favorite photos end up being the ones where the kids are just playing, being themselves instead of posing! Still figuring out what we’re going to do this year for family photos…hoping to do them up in Flagstaff! 🙂

      • Tina says:

        Ha, Kim……I also always end up loving the more casual photos as well!! My husband Jeff is really not into anything posed, so he too has taught me to relax a bit and not always expect perfection….as that is just unrealistic for the most part. I think your family photo in Flagstaff is a GREAT idea! As Jeff is an almond and walnut farmer, I think we may have our family photo in one of the orchards this fall, with the lovely afternoon light 🙂 Very casual and fun!

  3. Beautiful story told through your lens!

  4. Caryl Anne says:

    These are great tips for families! I think this advice will help make the photo shoot more enjoyable and fun for everyone, including the photographer. Thanks for sharing!

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