I am obsessed with my little family, so naturally it’s a given that I LOVE taking family photos. There is just something special about getting all dressed up to document how much we’ve changed and the kids have grown that makes my heart happy. We’ve had a number of shoots over the last few years, so these tips should help plan for a shoot with or without kids…
1. Pick your fancy.
Decide up front whether you want your shoot to be comfy causal or full out glam (holiday/special occasion). Look for inspiration in magazines on Pinterest or even Instagram, then decide whether or not they are realistic for your family and your budget. Be sure to share photo inspiration with your photographer to ensure that you get the perfect shot.
2. Find a photographer.
This may sound pretty obvious but everyone with a website or photog in their IG bio isn’t a good photographer. I take our family pix pretty seriously so it typically takes me longer to choose our photographer than anything else. We haven’t done many shoots in Texas so I did rely heavily on Instagram to find ours for our most recent shoot; hashtag searching (ex: #DFWPhotographer) was a life saver.
Take the time to look through their photos and read through comments and reviews. Even send and email to bounce your ideas off them to see if you get good vibes/feedback. Chances are if they are not confident during that exchange, they won’t deliver during the shoot. If you’re looking for a great family photographer in the DFW area, Lauren with Harbor Grace Photography was amazing!
3. Scout a location (or two).
Aim to shoot someplace that is familiar to your kids like your favorite park or even at home; it helps to keep them from clamming up. If you do try to do some place like the botanical gardens or local park be sure to check for any permit fees that may be required; don’t just assume that it’s free. For our latest shoot, I knew I wouldn’t survive outdoors due to the Texas heat so we booked a studio. If your photographer doesn’t have their own indoor studio then you will need to check rental fees and availability of rental studios in your area.
4. Set your date/time.
Personally, I prefer to have the date at least 6-8 weeks in advance so that I can have time to fully style our outfits, schedule make up artists/hair appointments, etc. The last thing anyone wants is a shoot booked on short notice and then have shipping delays with shoes or a dress. You’ll end up frustrated trying to find a back up look or you may have to cancel. Set a date far enough out to leave room for shipping delays, crappy weather and anything else life may throw at you.
When booking the duration of your shoot be mindful of your child(ren) and their attention span. An hour or two seems like forever to a kid when they aren’t having their kind of fun. Aim to keep it at 30 min to an hour, unless you have older kids that can be bribed into cooperation. During our most recent shoot Zoe was over it after the first 15 min but James survived the whole hour.
5. Style your look.
By the time you get to this point there’s a great chance that you already have a look or 3 in mind. I try not to be too “matchy-matchy” but I definitely want the colors of all of our pieces to flow. I typically pick my look first then build everyone else’s look around mine. For our last shoot I went with the pop of color for myself and Zoe and a neutral color for the boys. Picking your fancy comes into play here too because you can’t be super glam then have the rest of the family casual. I made sure that Zoes dress was equally as fancy as mine and that the Jameses were equally dapper.
You may have to open your mind to shops and websites that you typically don’t buy from, which means that you have to read a lot of reviews before pulling the trigger. Sites that have really helped me tie looks together when typical retail stores have failed me are Etsy and Amazon. Amazon has a ton of super cute dresses, crowns, bows, bow ties and shoes for unbelievable prices. Etsy is always great for a custom gown without the custom price, along with any props you can think of.
Lastly, be mindful of the weather. Wearing sweaters in 100 degree weather or short sleeves in 40 degree weather are just bad ideas. Yes, sweaters are perfect for holiday photos but if you live somewhere like Texas it may take until the holidays for the temps to drop. This is the time to opt for an indoor holiday shoot. An overheated (or freezing) family is likely a grumpy family!
6. Kids will be kids.
Naturally we want the perfect family photo, I mean isn’t that why we booked the professional shoot? Well, let me be the first to tell you that your kid doesn’t care about how much money you spent to make your pictures happen. If you can, schedule the shoot around them/their temperament. My kids are wide eyed and bushy tailed every morning so we definitely do morning shoots. Don’t be the parent that scheduled a shoot during their regular nap time. You’ll regret it.
Also make sure that everyone is fed (before getting dressed) and that you have snacks/water on hand too. If the melt down happens, embrace it and keep moving. Meltdown moments somehow still make for great photos!
7. Remember to have fun.
Stiff, overly posed shots are boring. Remember to laugh, smile and interact with each other the same you would if no one else was around. It may feel a bit awkward but chances are that your photographer is used to it.
That pretty much sums up how I go about planning our shoots. If you have questions I didn’t answer please drop a line in the comments. Anyone planning a shoot for the upcoming holiday? Good luck and happy planning!
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