Five tips to prepare you for a family portrait session.

Five tips to prepare you for a family portrait session.

It’s probably pretty obvious by now that I’m a fan of photography. Even though I’m pretty decent with a camera I’m a huge fan of having someone else take our family portrait. It would be easy enough to set up the tripod and take our own photos, alot of people do this. But I think hiring a professional is a worthy investment.

This is what happens when you choose the cheapest option

Our first family portrait was taken at JC Penny. I love the photo, seriously. Even though there is nothing about it that makes it a “good” photo. The background is a mottled poopy brown like something you’d see in the backdrop of one of my middle school photos. One dog is yawning, one dog is looking away from the camera and there’s a ton of blank space between Martin and I. Our family portraits have only gotten better, but that first one is pretty goofy. People see and it and they say, oh my gosh that’s hilarious- not the mood we were going for…

Not only will a photographer give you pointers on your posture and create a pleasing composition. They are skilled at something most people aren’t, post-processing. A photo taken by a professional is more than just a quick snap. Editing is a critical part of creating a final image and photographers can do things like: whiten your teeth, fix bad lighting and remove distractions from an image.

I encourage you to step away from the tripod this season, get out of the JC Penny portrait studio and up your game. Family portraits should happen a minimum of once a year, here are my five tips for making them count!


Choose a photographer whose style you like


This is a big one, before you hire a photographer be sure to look at their portfolio. Do you like their style? Do you like the colors/mood/tone of their images? You can’t expect a photographer to change their style to suit your needs. It’s best to select a photographer whose images are as close as possible to what you imagine your final image looking like.  

This year I asked an Instagram friend of mine to take our portraits. I’ve been loving his feed and luckily he agreed to take our portraits, even though he’s not a family photographer.

Albert has an eye for capturing situations in natural light, which is something I love about his photos.


Choose a photographer who is good at capturing children


Maybe you feel obligated to have your wedding photographer take your family portrait. A friend of mine did and it was not this person’s strength, she was awkward around kids and their final images were disappointing.  When you’re looking at someone’s portfolio take note of how relaxed the subjects in the images are. Being photographed can be uncomfortable and you want someone who can put you and your kids at ease. Ask yourself; do the kids in these images look relaxed, are they laughing, are they being themselves? It’s important to choose a person who can make a child open up on camera, not everyone can do it.

Ooey stole Rachel’s bracelet and proceeded to really ham it up for the camera.



Ooey is a little ham on camera, but it helps when the photographer is good with kids. Photo by Callum of CE Photography.

Set clear expectations and be easy to work with


Don’t haggle with the photographer about cost. Show up to the session on time, have ideas for the location of the shoot. Do be clear on what you’re paying for- how long will the shoot last and how many final images can you expect and when. If you want your teeth whitened or your complexion smoothed out in the final images, let your photographer know!

Wear what makes you feel good


Matching in family photos is so cheesy, we get it you’re related. But if it makes you feel more confident on camera then go for it. Wear something that makes you feel fabulous, and same goes for the kids. And if that’s their halloween costume, whatever. It’s not unreasonable to have multiple outfits for a photo shoot.

If you want to go the extra glamorous route you may consider working with a stylist. A stylist will dictate outfits and poses based on your input. And they’re fun to work with. Like your photographer make sure you like their vibe.

Having your hair and makeup done professionally or renting a special outfit for the occasion is also not a bad idea


Photo by Callum of CE Photography. Styled by Allison of the Nebula Shop



Photo by Callum of CE Photography. Styled by Allison of the Nebula Shop



Photo by Callum of CE Photography. Styled by Allison of the Nebula Shop


Go with the the flow during the shoot

Two hours is the norm for family photo shoots, that’s a loooonnng time. You and your kids are probably going to get tired. Take breaks, bring snacks and water. And if your kid is having a melt down, get photos of that too. The point is to document your life as it was at a certain point in time, so have fun and make it easy for your kids to enjoy the session.

This baby meltdown is kind of the cutest thing ever to me. Photo By Rachel of Brackish Photography





Martin and I trying to hold it together while Ooey loses it is 80% of our day anyway. Photo by Albert Ting




DC based photographers that I would recommend

  • Anna of Anna Meyer Photo– she is a wonderful person and as a former nanny I know she’s a great choice for family portraits
  • Jessica of Jessica Burdge Photography – I’ve never met her personally but I have multiple friends who’ve worked with her and have amazing images. She also writes a great blog.
  • Rachel of Brackish Photography – We had a shoot with Rachel a year ago and I’m pretty sure my kid would have gone home with her!
  • I don’t know if Albert wants to be in the business of family photography- but he’s certainly good at it!
  • I’ve worked a ton with Callum of CE Photography , I think he’s moving to Chicago but it’s always worth reaching out.


If you liked this post please share it on Facebook or Twitter and be sure to subscribe to this blog! As always I can be found on InstagramPinterestFacebook and Twitter or contacted directly at

%d bloggers like this: