9 tips to nail your next family session....& walk away with photos you will cherish forever.

So you've booked your family photos and you're wondering "Where do I go from here?". You have a vision in your mind of what you want your photographs to look like and you can imagine already how flawlessly they will look printed on canvas for display in your living room for everyone to see. But those images don't just happen. Perhaps you've even had family photos taken before but your kids didn't cooperate and you didn't receive the results you'd hoped for. As a professional family photographer, I've compiled a list of helpful tips to prepare you for your next family session so you can leave feeling happy, confident and excited for your gallery!

1. invest in a photographer whose photography style speaks to you

One of the most important elements to your family session isn't even someone who is family - it's your photographer! My biggest piece of advice would be to choose a photographer whose editing and shooting styles you really enjoy. If you like a deeper, richer edit (I'm your girl), perhaps a moodier, darker edit catches your eye, or if you like a light and airy image choose someone who's portfolio reflects the work you are drawn to. If you like natural and candid moments captured (I'm your girl), or perhaps you want more direction and to be posed perfectly, choose accordingly. Do not choose a photographer based on who has the best deal or the most images included in your final gallery. In the end you will definitely thank yourself for investing your money and time in someone who can produce a product you really love and speaks to you.

2. think about what everyone will be wearing & how it will look collectively

Your outfits will be something that really stand out in your final images so take the time to plan ahead what you'll all be wearing. You'll want to coordinate your outfits to some degree, but do not wear the exact same thing or the exact same colour. You know what I'm talking about; we've all seen the family pictures of everyone wearing the same black t-shirt and jeans. You'll want more depth to your images, so I would suggest creating a colour palette that attracts you most and pull various pieces from each person’s outfit to work with that palette. Of course, this will still look different for each client because everyone has their own unique style and wardrobe. I would suggest dressing as if you're attending the wedding of a close friend. As photographers, we want you to look your best, but also be comfortable and still feel like yourself during your session. Some colours that I encourage my clients to wear are earthy tones (cream, sage, beige, dusted pink) or deep colours (navy, burnt orange, cranberry, mustard) as they photograph wonderfully. Dads might not like this next part, but - I would also suggest no ball-caps or hats, as they create a shadow and hide part of your face from the camera. Sorry! Someone had to say it. Bonus tip: Also plan to dress accordingly to the weather! There's nothing, like actually, nothing worse during your session than you child crying the whole time because they are cold. Happy trumps cold any day.

3. do your research

I know, I know. You already graduated high-school/college and you thought you were done your research. I promise you won't regret doing a little more research on potential photographers when you're looking to book your next family session. I mentioned above to choose a photographer who's style speaks to you, but you'll also want to a photographer who has good reviews, is good with people and is professional. Check out Facebook pages, Mom Groups, and ask around to see what other peoples' experiences have been. It really shows in your final images when you have a photographer that you vibe with, someone that can evoke a true feeling, and someone who can get a genuine smile from your kiddos. You want to leave your family session thinking "Wow, he/she made that so much more fun than I thought it would be!". It really is well worth the investment when you receive images you love, you felt comfortable AND had fun to boot!

4. plan around sleep schedules

If you have small children and they are still napping or they have a certain bedtime that they're accustomed to then I would plan around those times. From a photographers' standpoint, I always suggest a time when I believe the lighting is best (usually in the evening before sunset), but I know that a session time before sunset will not be achievable for every family. Your photographer should be willing to work around nap schedules, because let's be honest - nothing's worse than a baby who has missed their nap/pushed their nap.

5. Let your children run the show

This goes against what every parenting book recommends. But if your children aren't feeling it and aren't having fun during your family session then don't pressure them or get upset with them. This can be frustrating for a lot of families, because you've taken the time to plan, you've invested money, you rushed to get out the door to be here in time and of course, one child isn't cooperating. As a photographer, I see this all the time (literally, almost every session) and we are experienced in dealing with this. This is a new place, a new experience and may seem all too much to take in for your child. Let your child play with a flower they found nearby on the ground, let them talk to me about my camera (almost every kid wants to know what it looks like to look through my camera), let them tell me a story about Minecraft or Moana (I have kids, I can keep up with their lingo). I will still capture their personality and them in their element. And if you have a child who is feeling shy or a little upset, I have some tricks up my sleeve to turn their mood around. Don't stress the small stuff!

6. bribery

Yes, I said it. But it works. Prepare you kids and let them know they're about to go have fun, take some family pictures and afterwards they're going for ICECREAM or to the PARK. If I were a kid, this would sound like a fun family evening. Another thing that some parents do is bring bribery treats during the session which can be either fantastic or disastrous. If you're going to bring a few treats to help get your children through your family session, I would recommend bringing something quick to eat and not messy. Your photographer will thank you if you bring something such as small gummies or candies, rather than gum or something chocolate . Quick to eat/non-messy treats can keep your children distracted and content without making a big mess.

7. eat

This one seems simple but can make all the difference in the outcome. Eat supper, feed those kiddos, feed your partner. Hangry is a real thing and can effect your final images. Even if you plan on going out for supper after your family session, at least fuel up with a snack beforehand to hold you/them off! Bonus tip: Hydrate too!

8. trust your photographer

Your photographer may suggest certain poses or certain locations that you may think are a bit odd. He/she may get you to stand in knee high grass and you're wondering why, or perhaps they get you to lean into your partner and you're thinking "There's no way this looks good" - but just trust the process. Your photographer has likely photographed hundreds of sessions before and knows what works and what doesn't. They know the lighting, they know the angles, they know what looks good and what doesn't. Always speak up if you're not comfortable, of course, but otherwise just trust the process of your photographer.


Parents, that one is especially for you. Have fun. Be silly. Tickle your kids. Make funny faces. Sing a song. Do a dance with your kids or partner. The images that my clients fall in love with aren't the ones where everyone is looking and smiling at the camera (although I always make sure to include some of those too). The photographs they fall in love with are the ones where their child gets to make a funny face to make their parents laugh, the parents are tickling their children, they're all just giggling and having fun in the moment. Another big favourite of my clients is when the photographs show the personality of the child 100%. Just relax and have fun!

You can't plan every little detail, you can't plan how your children will behave, and you can't plan the weather. All you can do it your best to prepare in the ways you are able to, have some fun and let your photographer take it from there. You are our priority and we got you!

If this all sounds like fun and you'd like to book a Family Session with Waves + Wildflowers Photography, please feel free to reach out!

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