Insider Tips to a Successful Family Photo Shoot


The kids are back in school.  Halloween decorations are showing up in the stores.  You know what that means???  The holidays are RIGHT around the corner… and with that comes holiday photos!  As a family photographer, I have put together some insider tips on how to have a successful family photo shoot.

Tips For A Successful Family Photo Shoot

Pick a photographer whose work you love.  

This is by far the most important tip I have for you.  There are many photographers, with a variety of skill sets, and inevitably different shooting styles to choose from.  Think about what you like best/what works best for you.  Do you like photos that are naturally lit and airy, or images done in a portrait studio, or with dramatic lighting?  Do you want the picture to be “perfect” with everyone smiling at the camera, or would you prefer to have some more candid lifestyle images of your family?  You may not think you know what you like, but when you see it, you will know.  Take some time to search on the internet, or good ol’ social media.  Hop on Facebook or Instagram and research the photographer(s) your friends have used.  Not only can they tell you whether they were happy with the final outcome, but they can also give you an insight into the process: the photographer’s demeanor, communication, how the photographer interacted with their children, etc.

You get what you pay for.  

Figure out what your budget is and see which photographers fall into that range.  Many photographers offer mini sessions during the fall, so if you are okay with a shortened photo shoot time, it can be a great way to save some money!

Do you want/need digital files?

Many photographers provide digital files with their sessions.  Some include them in their session fee, though others offer them as an additional purchase.  Make sure you are clear and comfortable with what you are paying for.

Plan EARLY!  

Now is the time to start thinking about holiday photos.  Most portrait photographer’s schedules become booked as the holiday season creeps in.  If you want your images (and holiday cards!) before the holidays, I would consider reaching out and scheduling your session sooner rather than later.

Remember to have fun, wear what you are comfortable in, and trust your photographer.

And remember: RELAX!

As both a photographer and a mom, I know how stressful a portrait session can be.  Especially when it comes to coordinating the family’s schedules with the photographer’s and then DECIDING WHAT TO WEAR!  This is where most moms can go off the deep end… don’t worry, here are a few tips!

Pick a color scheme and don’t over think it.  

When photographing families, I tell them not to pick clothing that is “matchy matchy” but outfits that compliment each other.  Some of my favorite color schemes are: natural (think creams, browns, jeans, maybe some lace and/or gold), berries (this can mean purple or magenta which both pair perfectly with navy and grey), blues (you can go a variety of directions with this one.  Blues typically pair well with greens, browns and greys. Lighter blues look great with corals or yellow) and bold (whatever color you look and feel great in).  Mustard also seems to be a happening color trend (and you can go a multitude of different ways with it: I love pairing it with grey or purple).  Maybe you want to rock some pink for your session!  I say go for it!  Have fun!  These are your photos!!! Here is a link to a Pinterest board I share with my clients wanting some clothing inspiration: what to wear // portrait session style guide.

Different photographers will likely give you different advice, but I say have fun with color and patterns and do not forget about accessories!  Is the thought of all this overwhelming you?  Ask your stylish friend to come over to go through your closets and pick out some portrait-worthy outfits.  Or, take her shopping with you!  Always nice to have a second pair of eyes 😉  If you are able to, consider hiring a stylist.  Many can help you virtually: all by email/your computer and maybe a little video chat/face time!

Don’t forget hair and makeup!  

Many times, we as mothers can be so worried about getting everyone to a portrait session on time, without stains on their (new) clothes and their hair getting messed up, that we show up in yesterday’s mascara and our hair pulled back in a mom bun.  Do yourself a FAVOR and get your hair and makeup done.  I cannot emphasize enough how important this tip is.  Having your hair and makeup done professionally will make you feel and look your best, and will make taking photos so much more enjoyable!  I guarantee it will show in the final outcome.   If you feel and look your best, you will be happy and confident in your photos.  Most photographers work hand in hand with many hair stylists and makeup artists, so do not hesitate to ask them for a recommendation. Can’t afford to hire someone?  This is where your friend who always looks so put together comes in handy again!  Ask her to come over and help you get ready 🙂


I hope these tips help you and your family have a successful portrait session with little (or no!) stress.  If you are like most families, you will get professional photos taken on average of once a year, so the world will not come to an end if you do not plan every last detail to perfection.  Sometimes the best moments, and photos, come from the unplanned, and even chaotic moments that define and capture what motherhood and family time are really all about.  
Remember to have fun, wear what you are comfortable in, and trust your photographer.  Your photographer should love what he/she does, and if so, he/she will translate that passion and creativity into your photos!

{Photography by: Dream Photography Studio who can also be found on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.}    

How about YOU, mamas? Any tips or tricks you would add for stress-free photo sessions? Do tell!

Contributing Sister Site and Author

About {Stacey}

Stacey is the owner of North Phoenix Moms Blog and Dream Photography Studio. She is a dreamer and nerd at heart. Which explains her love for all things Disney, SciFi and musical theatre. As an Arizona native, she has fallen in love with Phoenix, the city she was born in, and all it has to offer. She is an advocate for local and small business as well as the arts. She considers herself a bit of a foodie, enjoys cooking, hiking and going to the movies. The biggest steals of her heart are the two main men in her life, her son and her husband. She is super excited and proud to lead North Phoenix Moms Blog and be part of the City Moms Blog Network.