What are some awesome tips for family photos?

You've paid your deposit, secured your date and your session is weeks away. Now what? Preparing for your session will ensure you have a relaxed, stress-free and all around wonderful time. Your positive energy will rub off on your kiddos and everyone will leave the session thinking "hey! that was fun!" I had my own family photos taken a few months back so I know what it's like to be in your shoes. Here are the tips I stand by...

Family portrait at bellevue botanical garden by a Bellevue family photographer
Black and white image of family smiling for the camera in a garden
Boys playing together in bellevue at sunset
Brother's being silly at Bellevue Botanical Garden
Candid photo captured by photographer of little brother hugging older brother in bellevue

Prepare for your session by figuring out outfits at least one week ahead of time.

This tip is so important for family photos! I recommend picking moms outfit first and building everyones outfit around that. Moms work hard to organize all the logistics around preparing for family photos so she should wear the outfit that reflects her style first. Have each family member try on their clothes AND shoes at least one week before the session so that you have time to find last minute items at Target or Amazon Prime if something is fitting oddly. For our family photos, one of my daughters didn't like how short her dress was (it had shrunk in the wash) so we were able to order a new dress online before our session.

Seattle photographer captures smiling family photo during golden hour
Candid moment of brothers playing at sunset in Bellevue
Tender moment of brothers hugging each other at Bellevue Botanical Garden

Keep your day of activities light and arrive to your session a few minutes early.

Prepare for your session by keeping that day's activities light. This tip for family photos is necessary because if you're rushing from the playground to a birthday party to another playdate, your kiddos will be tired by the time it's your photo session. Plan to arrive to your session a few minutes early. There is nothing more stressful than showing up late for something! You are frazzled, which rubs off on your kids, and it's hard to find the joy and love when you're on an adrenaline rush, running from the car to the set location to meet your photographer. Google Map the location a day ahead of time, at the same time as your session (ex: Google Map Thursday 6pm traffic times for a Friday 6pm session) so you know how much time it'll take to get there during rush hour.

Candid moment of parents playing with their children, backlit, at golden hour
Bellevue family photo in a garden
Black and white image of smiling family
Family hugging each other in family photos in Bellevue

Prepare for your session by packing yummy snacks.

What kid (or adult) doesn't like snacks? Now is the time to pack some quick and yummy snacks. If your kiddo starts getting fussy during family photos, you can whip our some snacks for a mental and physical break for them. If you want to do some photos of just mom and dad, your children can munch on something to keep them busy. Apple slices, grapes, cheerios and yogurt melts are nice, mess-free snack options.

Father hugging son backlit at golden hour
Black and white image of father with his sons in Bellevue
Portrait of a boy in a garden
Backlit portrait of a father with his sons in Bellevue
Smiling boy at Bellevue Botanical Garden

This tip for family photos is a big one. Let kids be kids!

Mentally prepare yourself for the fact that your kids will be kids! They will laugh but they will also whine. Don't make them say "cheese" or force them to smile if they don't want to. Instead of saying "hold still and smile for the camera", I will say jump as high as you can! Instead of saying "pose with your mom," I will say "your mom is going to run up and surprise you but you gotta keep looking my way or else it won't be a surprise!" These kids had SO much energy and were constantly on the move, jumping in place, running towards their parents, hugging each other, receiving tickles and more. My job was to capture their joy in all directions, angles and distances.

Joyful family tickling each other in Bellevue

Find a location that's right for your family's personality.

Bellevue Botanical Garden is a fantastic location. This location has different backdrops (rock garden, Japanese garden, forest) for a well rounded gallery. Some of the spots are within a 5-10 minute walk from the parking lot and there is plenty of parking! The spring and summer months, especially weekdays, are quiet. The fall months are packed with people so weekday sessions are a must! The suspension bridge is a 20 minute walk from the parking lot and there are bathrooms available. The garden is not good for families that want to do a lot of running, climbing or high energy activities.

My client families are well prepared for their sessions and as a result, are relaxed and happy to cuddle, kiss and play with their kids. See more of my joy-filled work here.