Preparing Your Family For A Family Session: Beyond The Wardrobe

Preparing for a family photo session can be a bit nerve wrecking for new clients. After all, it isn't often that you get your family together and have time to just have photos taken, and usually by a stranger at that. You want everything to go smoothly and you want to be left with wonderful images you can cherish for a lifetime. 

The photographer will be responsible for getting all of the “photographic details" perfect, and will guide you with things like posing, but there are things that you, as a client, need to do to prepare for the session. 

Here are a few tips to ensure that you are fully prepared for the big day! 


This is the most obvious thing you need to plan out and prepare for before your family's photo session. You want to make sure everyone looks well out together, and coordinates. This not does mean you need to have completely matching outfits, in fact, it's better if you don't. 

Pick a few colors fitting for the location  or them if there is one, and coordinate outfits around that color scheme. You can look online for outfit examples that work well for sessions. Pinterest is a great site to get some ideas! Also, it's usually helpful to communicate with your photographer and get their opinions on the ideas you have. 

Some colors and patterns simply do not photograph well, but your photographer can be a big help when deciding on your wardrobe. Just make sure you have the wardrobe squared away at least a week or two in advance. You don't want to wake up in panic mode the day of the session, rish running late, and be on edge before the session ever begins. The more relaxed everyone is the day of the photo session, the better results you will get. 


If you plan on getting haircuts for the family, maybe fresh highlights in your hair, or manicure, make sure to plan these appropriately ahead of time. 

Inform your family:

It's obviously a no brainer that your family needs to know ahead of time. This is especially true for working adults, college students, etc., that may need to make prior arrangements with others to be able to make the appointment. So give them plenty of heads up! 

Also, try not to make the session seem like an overwhelming big deal. This can cause anxiety and stress and that is the last thing you want during your session. Husbands and teenage boys usually have the most anxiety. Just ensure them that your photographer will help give direction, they just need to stay relaxed and let him/her do the work. 


Be sure you have signed and read all documents and agreements between you and the photographer, this way there will no misunderstandings. Photographers need to have all of these things squared away BEFORE the session, so ensure you do your part in a timely manner. 

What to Bring to The Session:

Of course you do not want to come with suitcases full of things, but there a few things you should plan on bringing with you to the session. 

If you have small children that will possibly get cranky and just fed up at some point, bring a few snacks for them and a water bottle. Make sure the snack aren't messy, but just a little something to hold them over and keep them happy. 

Also, bring a change of clothes for small children. Accidents can happen anywhere. You do not want your kid's outfit to get dirty and not have a back up plan. Have a pair of comfortable shoes for walking and moving on. You can always switch into your fancy heels for when you aren't moving around so much. Also, a hair brush, small mirror and maybe lipstick for touch ups would be a good idea also. 

Many families also like to incorporate family heirlooms or anything that is special or has meaning to them. Just let your photographer know if you plan on incorporating anything like this into your photos so they can be prepared as well. 

Cheese Isn’t Neccesary:

For family photo sessions, I think this is a big one, which is why I saved it for last. Do NOT anticipate on looking into the camera and smiling for every shot. Candid un-posed images are really the best for family sessions. Of course, your photographer will throw in a few posed shots. However, the best images will come from interacting with your family while laughing, playing, and just being yourselves.  

Candid shots result in genuine smiles and connections! They show emotion, love, playfulness, and personality. These are the types of images that when looked at, will really make your heart smile because of the emotion that radiates from them. 

So do not put emphasis on being still, behaving, and posing and saying “cheese.” Prepare to have a good time making sweet memories with you family. The more loosened up you are, the better images your photographer will capture. Also, it takes some small children a little bit to “come around" and get comfortable. Photographers are aware of this have patience. So let children come around at their pace, otherwise they will feel forced and want no part of it. 

I hope these tips help you fully prepare for your family photo session! These opportunities don't happen often for most families, so be prepared ahead of time and come relaxed and ready to have fun capturing great memories!