Tips for a successful Family Photo Session

Family photos hold a special place in our lives and in our hearts. You’re making photos you’ll look back on for years to come, images that your children and grandchildren will look at to remind themselves of where they came from and how much their family has changed and grown.

Celebrating your family is a great reason to take family photos. If you’re contemplating booking a session (or even after you have booked), you may be wondering: How am I going to get all the kids to behave? What should everyone wear? What if our pictures turn out terrible because no one will cooperate?

To help you feel less stressed about getting everyone dressed and smiling, I’ve put together this handy guide on how to prepare for and make the most of your family session.

I’m a father who’s a goofy kid at heart, so I connect very well with kids. I’m intuitive and patient: I know when kids need a break and I make sure we give it to them. I’m also a guy and can relate very well to the male energy that sometimes resists. I can get them on board in a good way.

Now on to the tips…


Schedule at the right time of day

When it comes to photographing young children as you know, scheduling is everything. You don’t want to schedule a photo shoot right in the middle of nap time and end up with a cranky toddler. In the same way, if your session runs over into dinner time, your little one may throw a tantrum. Most of my family portraiture is inside in my Wicker Park studio, where the light is always great and it’s never cold or raining.

If you do have your heart set on outdoor photos, that’s cool. However, even if you want “golden hour” images, let’s consider your kids and what time of day they’re most alert, awake, and content. It’s better to have your photos taken in the middle of the day than to struggle with frustrated, grumpy children just to get that gorgeous evening light.

Talk to your kids beforehand

Take time to sit your kids down and explain what they can expect at the family session and how they should behave. Emphasize the fun aspects of a photo shoot: They can pretend to be models and even ham it up a little for the camera. Just remind them the importance of listening to you and the photographer and following instructions. It’s normal for very little kids to refuse and run away and that’s normal. I stay calm and patient and we will work together to get them in the right spot and happy. It only takes a few moments to get great stuff.

Get inspired

Think about what kind of images you want and we will discuss your options. Are there special combinations you absolutely do not want to miss? Would you prefer a studio session or one outside at a favorite park or spot in your town? Whatever you choose, be sure to speak with me beforehand about what you’re hoping to achieve, as well as any special requirements you or your family may need.

Choose what to wear

While kids definitely look adorable in their dressiest outfits, you’re better off choosing something they’re comfortable in. That goes for your whole family, including you. Everyone will feel more like themselves in their favorite outfits. Just be sure everyone coordinates well and avoid bright colors, white, or patterns that can be distracting.

A good photo that could be great with better outfits

The Day of Your Session

Pack your bag

If you have kids, you’re definitely familiar with how much stuff you need to bring along with you when you go places, and a family photo session is no different. Here are some items we recommend you pack for your photo shoot:

  • Backup outfits—You never know when someone will get a little messy!
  • Favorite toys—A great way to keep little ones happy
  • Snacks and water—Nothing boosts a kid’s mood quite like a favorite snack! Just go for something that isn’t too messy
  • A blanket to sit on for outdoor—perfect for cozy outside images

Keep an eye out for illness

If you or one of your children isn’t feeling well, talk to me about rescheduling. These things happen, and I’m more than happy to work with you to find a better time to capture your family photos.

Make a day of it

While your actual session may only take an hour, it’s a good idea to make the day a relaxing one. That means little additional activities for the kids (but do take everyone out for a treat after the session) and no work for you. Just spend a fun day hanging out.


Bribery works for little ones!

It’s not a great long term parenting strategy, but having several different high level rewards on hand can be essential to success with little ones. It just takes a few moments of a good smile or cooperative look to get great photos. So bribing them to play along and then rewarding them really does work.

Give yourself plenty of time

Get everyone ready early and give yourself time to get to your session location. You may even want to take a look at traffic reports and give yourself even more time if necessary. If you’re running on time, you’ll be relaxed. Be sure to give yourself plenty of breathing room so you can arrive comfortably early to your session.

Have fun!

I know, it’s easier said than done. But if you’re stressed out, your kids will sense it, and suddenly everyone is having a not-so-fun time. Besides, genuine smiles look so much better than forced ones, and you want your family photos to capture your authentic joy and personalities!

I hope you found this useful. If you have already booked a session, I can’t wait to get to know your family and give you photos that you can look back at and smile. If you are looking to book a session, let’s book a chat. It’s the next best step to see if we are a fit for your family session.

Yours always,

Aaron Gang