How To Prepare For Your Family Photo Shoot

Lets Face it!.. Just organizing the family for a normal day can be a huge task. Add the stress of getting ready for some family photos and that's enough to make everyone tired before you even begin.

This does not just effect your family - It also effects the photographer when he or she is trying their best to make everyone happy and comfortable and get some natural smiles.

Here are a few tips for preparing for your family photo shoot that will hopefully make the day a lot easier to cope with and can result in much more natural images.

The following is advice for clients:

1. CLOTHING

Have your clothing chosen way in advance. Chose neutral colors with soft, flowing fabrics. Think creams, very soft pastels, light browns, tans, grays, and slate blues. Don't be too matching for everyone's clothing, also don't wear too much black or white. Adding accessories like scarves, headbands, hats, etc is a great idea too.

2. BE RESTED AND REFRESHED

Make sure not to schedule your photo session around your child's nap time, and if they have missed their sleep it may result in less than desirable images so it may be advisable to re-schedule. Its best not to show up to a photo shoot on an empty stomach.  Don't come to a photo session with dinner scheduled at the end.  If this is your plan, be sure to give everyone a healthy snack before the photo shoot.

3. PREPARE IN ADVANCE

Women are very capable, and can often utilize every moment in their day more effectively than fathers. Mum's are often rushing around before a photo shoot trying to get their family completely dressed and ready - but its not always a good idea in this situation. This may leave little time for themselves and if mum is not feeling good about herself because she did not have enough time to get ready (because she is organizing everyone else) this will show in the photos.

I recommend mums getting their hair and makeup professionally done... even if its from a girlfriend. (or at least HAIR as some women prefer to do their make-up themselves)

This will prepare mum for her pictures and when mum is feeling pretty and confident, this will reflect on the rest of the family as well.  Leave plenty of time for showers, baths, dressing and preparation for unexpected delays. 

When a family shows up to a family photo session rushed and disorganized, it sets the tone for a rushed and disorganized session.  Give yourself extra time so that you are ready before it’s time to head out that door.

4. DADS - BE HAPPY PARTICIPANTS

Dad's can often dread the day they feel dragged along by their partners to the family photo session.

If you have been together for any length of time you understand that when SHE is happy... then YOU are happy!.. Guys you need to understand how important capturing your family is. Your partner is looking forward to creating these images to be able to show everyone how proud she is of her family and your help is vital. Once you see your happy wife / partner and amazing photographs, you will be so glad that you gave this time to your family.

5. LEAVE THE CHEESE IN THE FRIDGE

Please, parents… leave the “cheese” at home in the fridge. Cheese is for crackers. 

So many times I have found parents who stand behind the photographer and scream, “Say cheese kids!”  Yelling and demanding young children to look at the camera to smile will only stress your children out (not to mention the photographer) and will result in strained, unnatural and often unflattering photographs. 

Step back, and allow the photographer to naturally interact and talk with your children - to ask questions about their mum and dads, brothers or sisters.  This will result in natural, beautiful smiles. 

Parents - Help the photographer capture the true essence of your child’s personality by talking with and coaxing out those smiles naturally and easily.

6. MAKE IT FUN!

Parents, don't be scared to pickup your children or toss them in the air. Give your partner a kiss on the cheek and tell each other how much you love and appreciate what you have together - this will assist with the mood of the day and really show through in your photos.

Have fun.  Laugh. Joke. Embrace.  Kiss.  Snuggle.  Play.  Doing these things will allow the photographer to capture the emotion and true beauty of your family showing everyone natural candid images of each family member and their personalities.

Show your photographer who you really are, so that they have the opportunity to capture your love through their lens.

7. INCORPORATE FAMILY ACTIVITIES

Successful family sessions incorporate an activity that the family loves to do together.  This gives you something to do with your hands and feet, engages the little ones, and brings an authentic smile to your face. 

Do you love to read together?  Bring some books.  Love to play board games or cards?  Plan to play a round of Uno or Monopoly during your family photo session.  Other ideas include: football, piggy back rides, races, bike riding, hiking, singing, picnics, the ideas are endless. 

When families are engaged in doing something that they love together, the photographer will have the opportunity to take some beautiful and authentic photographs.

8. FORGET THE 'RULES'

To set your mind at ease... NOT everyone needs to be looking at the camera at the same time. Its not the most comfortable thing to do, and most photographers don't like asking everyone to do it.

The best photos come from natural interactions. Playing together as a family would usually be a happy fun time, and while the occasional 'everyone look at the camera' pose is not hard to accomplish its much more appealing and enjoyable when you feel like the camera is not there.

These are the photographs that you will cherish most because they depict your family connection and your love.

IN SUMMARY...

Be prepared WELL IN ADVANCE. Be rested and don't skip your meal because you had run out of time. Some people get 'hungry-angry'

If your kids are young a second change of clothes is very advisable in case of mishaps or getting covered in food (should they be eating an ice cream for example)

Dad's can be the biggest help in the day by being cheerful participants. Be a proud dad and support your partner - you will be rewarded in so many ways - most importantly, beautiful photos of your family (and no arguments when you get back home)

MAKE IT FUN ... incorporate family activities and be yourself, then you will have the most natural and candid shots that really show your family and friends the love you have together as a family.

Forget the rules. Not everyone needs to be looking at the camera, and forget about saying 'CHEESE'. Let the photographer engage your family to help create natural interactions and expressions.