1. Get an idea of what kind of shoot you’d like to do. Do you want a relaxed shoot at home or an elaborate shoot with props? Thinking about what you want, and then getting realistic about how practical it would be to actually do is the first step. Do you have kids? How many and what are their ages? Keep it simple and enjoyable for all ages.
2. Pick a location (or two) for your photos. Personally, I like selecting places that are meaningful to you as a couple or family. I've done photo shoots at clients home, at the park where the kids can play and interact. If your favorite place is visually appealing, all the better! When in doubt, pick a park or other open, outdoor area (weather permitting). If it isn’t a place you or your photographer visit frequently, try scouting the location ahead of time if you can.
3. Pick a date at least a couple of weeks in advance so you can prepare your appearance. Did you overeat on the Halloween candy? You have a couple of weeks to get in a few extra workouts. Need a haircut? You have time. Get a manicure – I always forget how much you end up seeing our hands, especially as the mom who is often holding the baby or kiddo. New shoes or some accessories. Coordinating the family is definitely a must. I can help with that as well. I have a session style guide I provide for all my clients that are on the books.
4. Start gathering any props you need to bring your vision to life. This might be as elaborate as a Christmas tree or as simple as a scarf. Just start thinking about what you want to use and gather it up in case you have trouble finding something. Ask your photographer as well, if they are anything like me, I am a prop junkie! Just one or two will do though, always keep it simple.
5. Remember your kiddos are just kids. They aren’t professionals, or even grown ups. So pick the time of day that they are in the best mood. For us, it is the morning. We’ve always shot around 10 am until lunchtime and it works perfectly. For others, it might be after nap time. Whatever it is that works best for your kids, try to work with them. Because if they are going to have a meltdown or be uncooperative, it will be the day you have a photoshoot scheduled. Let your photographer know so they can also consider lighting for these times, plan to be a little flexible. Lighting is key to amazing photos.
6. Make sure everyone has eaten. No one is happy when they’re hungry, especial dad's! Have snacks and water on hand just in case (and for bribes!)
7. Dress for the weather. If it is cold, wear sweaters and coats – they make for great photos, especially for holiday cards. But if you’re like me, living in Florida where it is still 80 degrees or hotter most days, you’re going to have to do sweater photos indoors or just embrace the weather you’re in. Overheated (or freezing) family members don’t make for happy photos.
8. Coordinate your wardrobe, but not too much. There is a fine line between coordinating and too matchy matchy. Selecting complimentary patterns, or colors (think pastels or varying shades of the same color) are a great way to go. You do not have to match. In fact, it looks better when you don’t. Choose mostly solids and accent with maybe one or two print patterns depending on how many are in your group. Always bring a couple of accessories like hats or scarves and a pop of color is a must!
9. This might be obvious, but find a good photographer (I actually know a really good one, LOL). I cannot tell you how important it is to have your family documented by a professional who knows what they are doing and can deliver beautiful photos that you’ll always treasure.
10. Relax and just have fun. The best photos are the candid ones of you being a family, rather than the posed ones. Get some of those too, but try to just relax, play, and be yourselves. Try not to focus on what you want the result to be and just enjoy the experience. You’ll get the best (and most honest and real) photos that way.