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  • Kim Lloyd Photography

5 Tips for a Stress-Free Family Photo Shoot

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

VW Bus with smiling family inside and standing next to it

You've researched photographers and found one who shares your vision of a perfect photography session. You've hired them and scheduled your photo shoot for right after nap time ....but now the panic sets in! What do you do next to make sure that your session goes seamlessly?? Read on for 5 tips to create a truly stress-free family photo shoot.

1. Plan your family's wardrobe ahead of time.

For many families (let's face it, it's most likely us moms), planning the wardrobe for a photo shoot seems overwhelming but it doesn't have to be. The easiest way to start is to find a piece of clothing that you want included in the shoot. It could be a shirt your daughter wants to wear or a dress you absolutely love and feel beautiful in. Using that item of clothing, look for other pieces that either match it or complement it in some way. If it's a pattern, you can choose items for the rest of the family using the individual colors in the pattern to tie all of the pieces together. If it is a solid color, you can find other colors that complement it. Two easy ways to do this are to use the paint swatches at a paint/hardware store or check out Pinterest to find coordinating colors.

One thing you should absolutely avoid if possible is choosing itchy or uncomfortable clothing for anyone in the session. While grown-ups are usually good at dealing with less-than-ideal situations, your children will struggle to be their best selves if they are uncomfortable. Your photo shoot will be so much more stress-free if everyone is wearing something they love and feel good in!

Luckily, our weather in Tampa is temperate enough for short-sleeves for most of the year but we do get the rare cold snap that requires a light sweater so it's always a good idea to have something like that on hand in case your photo shoot happens on a cool day. Check out this post for more tips on how to choose your wardrobe for your next photo shoot.

2. Set aside time to prepare your family for the photo shoot,

Older girl giving her younger sister a piggyback ride

not just the "getting ready" part but also the "what to expect" part. Most kids (and husbands) function better if they know what to expect and what's expected of them. Depending on what kind of photo shoot you are doing, they may be asked to sit still or pose for the camera. Some photographers have a more laid-back approach and prefer to let the families play and explore during the session. Either way, a little guidance before the session on what to expect will go a long way toward helping your children be themselves.

As far as getting ready for your photo shoot, well-rested and fed children are much more likely to engage with you and your photographer during your session. Keep things low-key the day of your photo shoot, try to make sure everyone who needs a nap gets one and feed everyone beforehand. Make sure teeth are brushed (mom and dad too!!), faces are wiped clean and all photo shoot outfits are accounted for (either on someone's body or packed to go).

One recommendation I have for families with very young children is to wait to dress infants and toddlers until you get to your photo shoot location. They always seem to find a way to get something on their outfit before the shoot has even started. And packing an extra outfit is never a bad idea if you have one that will work in a pinch.

VW bus with four girls sitting on the bumper talking

3. Pack the essentials

Along with the items you usually carry for your children (diapers, wet wipes), there are a few things you might want to add just in case. Non-messy snacks and clear liquids are great to have in case your toddler decides that the meal you just fed him was not enough. A five-minute snack break might be just what he needs to get him through the last 20 minutes of your photo shoot without a meltdown.

Depending on how many children you have, one other essential you might want to think about bringing is an extra set of hands. Sometimes this can be an older sibling who is already there for the session who can step in to keep on eye on things while your photographer is taking pictures of other family members. Or maybe your babysitter comes along to help out. Either way, having an extra set of hands takes some of the pressure off of you, allowing for a more stress-free photo shoot.

4. Bring things to during your session

Young girl reading a book under a tree

Depending on what kind of photo shoot your family is participating in, you may have some downtime, whether it's because your photographer is working one-on-one with one of your children or because everyone is taking a snack break. Having books or bubbles on hand to entertain the little people can be a good way to keep the session on-track.

I actually prefer when my families bring things to do during their photo shoot, especially if it's something they love to do together (like snuggling on a blanket, reading a story). Having an activity to focus on takes the pressure off of performing for the camera and everyone just gets to be themselves, which creates amazing pictures!

5. Relax and have fun! Family photo shoots CAN be stress-free!

Young girl hugging her older sister from behind

You've done your research so you know what your photographer's pictures look like. Trust them to guide you in the right direction and to tell you what they need from you to get the same results from your session. Don't worry too much about what your kids are doing (as long as there isn't a safety issue). If your daughter refuses to smile for any of the pictures, take a deep breath. Most photographers are experts at switching gears to help kids feel more comfortable so that they can get the pictures they want. Just try to relax, enjoy being with your family and let your photographer create the pictures you've been dreaming of!

If you live in the Tampa area and would like more information on how to schedule your own stress-free family photo shoot with Kim Lloyd Photography, click HERE.

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