• Kimberly Kelly

Preparing for Your Family Photo Session: The MOST Important Thing

Updated: Aug 31

Want to know the most important thing to bring to your photoshoot? A relaxed, playful attitude! Your mood is even more important that your amazing outfits or awesome location. When you and your family are relaxed and happy, it shows in your photos. Here's how to set the stage for a joyful session and images you'll cherish.

Decide on what you’ll be wearing days ahead of your session.

You’ll sleep well knowing everything is in order the day before. Make sure your family is dressed in comfortable outfits that allow for natural movement and potentially sitting on the ground (P.S. bringing a blanket can help protect outfits from any moisture).

Eat. Sleep.

Do you and your loved ones ever get “hangry?” That terrible low blood sugar feeling can be avoided! Make sure your crew is well fed and bring healthy snacks just in case. Try to get everyone in bed on time the night before your session so you'll feel rested and happy!

Give yourself extra time to get ready….lots of it.

As a mom, I know just as well as anyone that a pressure-filled, rushed exit puts everyone in a sour mood. Take however much time you think you’ll need to get ready and double it. It might sound excessive but think of how good it will feel to be ready early and not have to worry about any last minute “I can’t find my socks” moments.

Think about what brings joy to your family, and bring it along if you like!

Does your child have a special lovey or book that they just can’t live without? Bring it! They’ll be happier and we can capture that special relationship.

Let go of any PPTSD (Photography PTSD).

Does your partner tell you that a root canal would be preferable to family pictures? Mine has literally used the word “torture” to describe the sorts of shoots (studio in a mall) I used to drag him to when our kids were young. When I became a photographer myself, I realized it didn't have to be that way. Photographs come out a million times better when we avoid stiff poses and focus on capturing natural interactions. Several dads have looked at me with a surprised expression at the end of a session and said, “That was actually fun!” So whatever has happened in the past...let it go. Time to move on to better times.

Don’t worry about getting your child to smile in front of the camera.

OK guys, this is a BIG one. There’s no beating around the bush. Please don’t threaten to punish your child if s/he doesn’t smile for the camera. It never goes well. It actually makes things a lot harder. My style is to capture natural interactions between family members, but that doesn’t mean that I want to see you fight! :) Once a parent and child go head-to-head, it becomes very hard to recover and play together. If your child is playing hard to get or purposely not cooperating, please let me try to handle it. I promise you it is not the first time that such a thing has happened. I'm a mom for goodness sake! I have worked as a school counselor for many years with young kids and especially enjoy building relationships with them. If I need you to step in, I promise to let you know. Otherwise, please focus on relaxing and having fun! Remember, you have hired me to handle the smile chasing so you can relax. Shew, glad we got that out of the way!

Come with the expectation that you will have a great time AND plan a fun activity afterwards too!

After your session, consider going out for a little treat or visiting a playground. Let your kids know that today is going to be a fun day and you have a special surprise planned. During the session, we may get some smiles as they try to guess what their surprise will be. Please DON’T threaten to remove the activity if they don’t cooperate. Miserable is not a look we are going for. We want your session day to be a fun-filled day to remember!

And finally, relax and be yourselves!

When you look at your photos, I want you to feel the love between your family members. I hope you have wonderful memories of the time you spent together that day. I’m not going to put you into awkward poses and ask you to say “cheese.” Just relax, be yourselves, and focus on enjoying your time together. The best images capture authentic moments and can’t be posed.

Kim Kelly Photography is a Jacksonville family photographer who lives in Neptune Beach, FL and truly enjoys capturing connections between people who love each other.