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10 Tips for Preparing for a Family Photoshoot

Preparing for a family photoshoot should be a fun and exciting experience. While some of these tips are kids related, you can use a lot of these to prep for an engagement session or other shoot as well. Below are tips to get you ready and looking your best for your shoot, as well a highlight a recent shoot in during the heights of the summer hols.

Family portrait of Mum, Dad and kids
Family photoshoot of kids sat on a log in the woods.

1. Get an idea of what kind of family photo you’d like to do.

Do you want a relaxed shoot at home or outdoors with natural? Thinking about what you want, and then getting realistic about how practical it would be to actually do is the first step. Do you have kids? How many and what are their ages? You probably don’t want to go hiking into the mountains and hills with three kids under three, for example.

Summer photos of kids playing together.

2. Pick a location for your photoshoot.

Personally, I like selecting places that are meaningful to you as a couple or family. If your favourite place is visually appealing, all the better! When in doubt, pick a park or other open, outdoor area (weather permitting). If it isn’t a place you or your photographer visit frequently, try scouting the location ahead of time if you can.

black and white image of kids playing.
Kids having fun in the park.

3. Pick a date at least a couple of weeks in advance so you can prepare your appearance.

This will get you the time you need to get in those extra workouts, have an haircut, get a manicure and whatever you make you feel great. I’m a give fan of the little treats that boost confidence in adults as well as kids.

Vibrance photo of Mum and children in the park.

4. Start gathering any props you need to bring your vision to life.

This might be as elaborate as having a picnic or as simple as a scarf for mum. Just start thinking about what you want to use and gather it up in case you have trouble finding something and need to come up with a Plan B.

Portrait of brothers hugging each other in the park in photoshoot.

5. Remember your kids are just kids.

They aren’t professionals, or even grown ups. So pick the time of day that they are in the best mood. In general, it is the morning. I’ve always shot around 10 am until lunchtime and it works perfectly young kids. For others, it might be after nap time. Whatever it is that works best for your kids, try to work with them. Because if they are going to have a meltdown or be uncooperative, it will be the day you have a family photoshoot scheduled. But remember, meltdowns can often make for some unexpectedly great photos, so just go with it.

Outdoor photo of brothers sat in the grass.
Close up photo of boy in a blue shirt sat outdoors.

6. Make sure everyone has eaten.

No one is happy when they’re hungry. Have snacks and water on hand just in case (and for bribes!).

Photo captured as the boys try to lift a log together in the park.

7. Dress for the weather.

If it is cold, wear sweaters and coats – they make for great photos, especially for holiday cards. But if you’re like me, living in London/Hertfordshire where it ranges from 14 degrees some days to 25 degrees on others, you’re best having a plan for one and a plan for the other (just in case). Overheated (or freezing) family members don’t make for happy photos.

Boys having a laugh with each other.

8. Co-ordinate your wardrobe, but not too much.

There is a fine line between coordinating and too matchy-matchy. Selecting complimentary patterns, or colours (think pastels or varying shades of the same colour) are a great way to go. You do not have to match. In fact, it looks better when you don’t. Take the family above for example, each person is wearing a complete different colour to each other. Bring a change of clothes if you want more than one look, or in case you get muddy, have a potty accident, etc. And always bring a couple of accessories like hats or scarves. And a pop of colour is a must!

Photo of dad carrying his son outdoors.
Outdoors family image of Mum and kids in Buckinghamshire.

9. This might be obvious, but find a good photographer.

I cannot tell you how important it is to have your family documented by a professional who knows what they are doing and can deliver beautiful photos that you’ll always treasure. A good photographer will build a wonderful relationship with you and each time you have a photoshoot it gets easier than the last because you’ve done it before. And whether you feel pretty that day or the kids are not cooperating, you can always trust him or her to deliver stunning photos.

As for choosing the right family photographer, you’ll often have a gut feeling when you see their work. They almost always have great photos of their families to show too, because they love what they do.

A great moment of Dad and son having fun together, captured on camera.

10. Relax and just have fun.

The best photos are the candid ones of you being a family, rather than the posed ones. Get some of those too, but try to just relax, play, and be yourselves. Try not to focus on what you want the result to be and just enjoy the experience. You’ll get the best (and most honest and real) photos that way.

Bonus Tip for great family photos:

Parents, dress in more neutral basics except for a colour pop (like the yellow dress above for mum) and let the kids be more colourful. The basic wardrobe styling formula I recommend for family photos is: coordinating neutrals on dad (with maybe a pop of colour on the t-shirt peeking out under a sweater or jacket) + colourful pattern on kid + mom in coordinating pop of colour (works great if it is pants/skirt, scarf, or shoes) = family photo perfection. And denim or chambray is always a winner! I hope the gallery above gives an idea of how you can style your wardrobe without being overly matchy-matchy. You can check out this recent London family photoshoot to see example of clothing and colours too.

You can check out other family portrait photography blogs and pricing here. If you are interesting in having me as you photographer, you can contact here or via email at info@dejijohnson.co.uk.

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