Five Tips for Great Family Photos

Family photos can either bring on panic and dread or it can be a memorable time for your family.  Unfortuately, most people have never experienced the latter.  After my family sessions, I often hear in a surprised voice, “That was actually fun!” from the parents.  Below are some tips that might help you turn tragic experiences into fun times for your future family photo sesssions.

1.  What to wear:  I am usually working with the moms to set up sessions and my number one suggestion is for the mom to pick out her outfit first.  Choose something that is flattering when you sit, stand, and hold children.  There is nothing worse than getting everyone’s outfit set and then realizing the only thing you have that matches everyone else is your yellow sweater that is a bit too tight.  Spare yourself the misery of feeling yucky during your session and find your outfit first.

2.  Time of Day:  There are two considerations for time of day.  The first one applies to families with young kids.  Sometimes you have to forgo getting that beautiful golden hour light because you have a 10 month old that loves a five o’clock nap.  Talk to your photographer about the best time of day for your kids and their schedules or ‘happy times’.  Which bring us to the second consideration… what location works best for what time of day. The golden hour at the beach is not the same as the golden hour in the canyon (which will be about an hour earlier).

3.  Photographer’s Style:  This is an important piece of the puzzle.  You will want to not only look at budget but also at the photographer’s style.  Family photos are not produced the same by every photographer.  You will be sad if your photographer only shoots natural light and you want your faces lit up as well as the beautiful sunset in the background… that scenario calls for some artificial lighting.  Do you want fun, candid images or perfectly posed and groomed images?  Make sure what you see on the photographer’s website overall is what you are looking for… overall.

4.  Fed and rested:  Book your session on a day that is fairly free of tons of activity (or at least at the beginning of a jam packed day).  Also, give yourself plenty of time before and after the session so you are aren’t rushed and hurried which equals anxious and unable to relax.  It’s a good idea to bring water and snacks on a shoot… even for adults.  At the very least, make sure everyone has had a bite to eat beforehand.  Hungry people are generally whiny people.

5.  Trust your photographer:  I know hiring a photographer is expensive and you want your pictures from your session to be perfect.  There is only one thing that will ruin this goal… and it’s not the kids.  Try your very best to remain calm and trust your photographer when your kids are acting goofy, shy, mad, sad, etc.  If you need to, step away for a minute.  An experienced family photographer can deal with just about any child if the parents stay out of it. Enjoy your kids, be in the moment, trust your photographer.

There it is in a nutshell.  Hopefully that gives you a little direction and some things to think about for your next family photo shoot.

[…] Five Tips for Great Family Photos » Photography by Alison, San Diego Family photographer. […]

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Elfin Forest

Slater and my friend’s daughter Kyla and I spent the day up at Elfin forest after I did a family session there a few weeks ago.  The whole time I was shooting the family session I just kept thinking (and saying out loud), “I can’t believe this place is here in San Diego!”  The kids had fun playing around the river (that’s river size for San Diego) and I had fun photographing them and everything around us.

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kids in nature
Slater and Kyla (and Colleen and I) all got poison oak a few weeks ago and Slater looks just a little bit like a cling on from Star Trek here.  This is not his normal look.  These two have been super stars with how bad their poison oak has been.

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