It’s come to my attention over the years that preparing for family photo sessions can be a bit of a hassle for parents. You may be a mom, reading this, and thinking that is a gross understatement right now. So, hopefully, this list will make it a little easier for you to make the decisions you need to make, and to execute accordingly in order to make your family photo session as successful as possible. Feel free to print it out and go through it, making little check marks as you prepare (in all your spare time).

1. Pick a location (or theme) that reflects you as a family. 

Brainstorm with me. What do y’all love to do together? If you could bottle up any one activity or series of moments that you experience with your kids right now, what would it be? Those moments, those locations… those are the images you’ll treasure the most. I’ll tell you a secret: most of those moments are experienced at home. Never, ever underestimate the power of a backyard or in-home session. And don’t freak out if your home is mostly a mess, I promise I won’t take pictures of the mess. Home is where your family is most comfortable, and it’s where those special moments happen, especially with really little ones.

Other great ideas for families who love to adventure together? Picking apples at an orchard, picnic-ing in the park, or strolling a lakeside path or beach. There’s nothing that I love more than getting creative in customizing a session!

2. Pick a time that’s great for light (and demeanors). 

And that time is not mid-day. About two hours after sunrise and one hour before sunset is pretty perfect as far as light goes on a sunny day. The hours surrounding those times typically work as well, so be flexible when you consider nap time, eating schedules, and in general when your kids are at their happiest. For example, when I was little, my mom would have been crazy  to schedule a session before 8am if it involved me- I was not a pleasant morning person. Aim for great light, but definitely tweak the time for good attitudes.

3. Feed your kids! 

I totally get the whole “using food” as a bribing mechanism thing. That is perfectly fine with me! Just, whatever you do, feed them a snack before they come. Better yet? Feed them a meal, and then bribe them with dessert if you need to. Expecting kids (or adults, for that matter) to pull it together on completely empty stomachs isn’t really something I like to do.

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4. Be real in your outfit selection. 

Your 4 year old will likely want to wear his favorite Hulk t-shirt (and that’s completely cool with me), but you may not want to be that real. Be that as it may, select outfits that reflect personalities and loosely coordinate with each other. The rules are really out the window these days as far as color schemes and matching (power clashing is an actual thing).

Make it easier on yourself, and select all outfits in advance. Set them aside the week before so you’re not rummaging through laundry to piece it all together. Don’t put any “outfit pressure” on yourself the week of, if it all possible. And don’t feed your kids anything that could spill and stain before a session. Just trust me.

5. Relax and have fun.

Know that my goal is to capture your family in their element, so I’ll be there to direct you and pose you, but mostly I need y’all to just love on each other. Be extra cuddly, pull out the inside jokes. Rarely will I say, “Stop doing that” if it involves tickling or hugging or playing. I know that time in front of a camera can feel awkward, so just look at the 45 minutes we have together as time for you guys to spend together and in close proximity of one another. I promise I will direct you and tell you what to do as I need to, and I also promise it gets way easier after you start.

6. Be flexible, and trust me. 

Communicate with me what is important to you, and the day of – please trust me to get it done. Flexibility is key when you’re working with kids, and I like to roll with them. I always come to sessions with a “formula for success” in the way of combinations and poses, but I always allow room for change. Stuff spills, kids cry, little ones fall down in the dirt. It’s one of those things where you just have to roll with it, ya know? Do your best to “embrace chaos” the day of, if chaos is what you’ve got. Perfection is over-rated and not real life, and there’s so much beauty in real life without forcing it to be perfect.

Have questions? Ask me. If you’ve booked me for a session, I want to work with you to make it everything that you dream it to be, and the last thing I want is for you to be stressed out about it!

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