When you book a session with a professional family photographer, the first thing you probably start thinking about is “What will everyone wear?” Wardrobe choices are important – and we’ll definitely get into what to wear for family photos here – but there is a lot more than just clothing to consider before your family photo session. Knowing what to bring, what to do, and what to expect will help to ensure everything goes smoothly.  It should be a fun experience for everyone, but it does take some planning!

Location and timing of your professional family photography session

When I first schedule a family photography session with clients, I’ll usually throw out a few location options for them to consider. The earlier we make a decision on this, the better our chances are that it will be available. Also, for some, the location may factor into your wardrobe choices. An afternoon session at a farm in Alpharetta may call for a different look than a dewy morning shoot at the river in Roswell.

The time of day is also important to consider, especially if there are young children involved. Don’t try to schedule in the middle of naptime or for right after a sporting event or birthday party. You want everyone to be rested. Get everyone to bed early the night before your family photography session. (That means mommies and daddies too!) If it’s an afternoon session, make sure little ones can get a nap beforehand. Even the bigger littles may benefit from some down time too.

Wardrobe ideas for family photography

Coordinating clothing for 4 or more people can be tough, so it may be easiest to start with what one person will wear and build from there. For example, make a decision about your outfit, and then look for pieces the rest of the family can wear that will complement it.

Some basic rules to keep in mind for everyone – avoid busy patterns and large logos. Try to coordinate colors or wear neutral tones, but don’t be afraid to use pops of color. Layers always photograph well, especially a variety of textures, but do consider the temperatures. Cute outfits aren’t nearly as cute when soaked through with sweat!

In addition to temperature, think about other aspects of comfort when choosing outfits. Maybe you’re okay with suffering for an hour or two in something scratchy or tight, but your two-year-old isn’t likely to be so accommodating! Have children try things on to be sure you won’t run into surprises the day of the session. If possible, try to get them excited to wear it. However, if getting them into the outfit takes some persuading – for whatever reason – bring an extra outfit just in case. Hopefully they’ll forget about the clothes once we get going, but best to have a backup.

Don’t forget to consider what shoes everyone will wear, and make sure they are relatively clean. Bare feet are always cute for little ones, but make sure that’s the look you want rather than end up with it because you don’t have another option!

Check out my Pinterest board for fun family photography ideas. From outfit ideas to fun themes for your session, this board is meant to inspire!

One caveat though, you may have an idea of how you want your family to look in your photos, but make sure that idea is one that accurately reflects your family! If your sons never wear button down shirts tucked in with belts, asking them to wear this on the morning of your photo shoot may not go over so well. And think about it, do you want a photo of them wearing something that doesn’t really look like them? Of course you want everyone to look like the best version of themselves – but make sure it’s also an accurate representation of them. The best family photos are a true reflection of the family – quirks and all.

What to bring to your session with a professional family photographer

Have you considered using props in your family photographs? Think about what you’d like incorporated in the shoot – a chalkboard, a sonogram picture, a bat and ball, a bike, a princess crown, etc. The professional photographer may have a stash of props to work with, but talk to them ahead of time so they know what you have in mind. Again, you may want to browse Pinterest for inspiration.

In addition to props, think about what items you could have on hand to make your children feel most comfortable. Children often get anxious with a professional family photographer, so bring a lovey or special blanket if you think it may help. A favorite toy or book can also help to take their focus off the photographer and onto something that will make them relax or even smile.

Also bring a non-messy snack and a clear drink to keep everyone adequately sustained throughout the session!

Night before your photo session

Make sure clothes are clean and ironed if needed. Lay it all out together, including shoes and any accessories such as barrettes, bows, jewelry, scarves, etc. Have items you plan to bring in the car already or together in a bag ready to go.

Look up the address of the photo shoot and find out how long it will take you to get there. Aim to arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled session so little ones can get acclimated to the surroundings, and get dressed, if needed.

Know what time you need to leave the house in order to arrive at the location early, and work backward so you know when to wake up or start getting everyone dressed. Estimate how long it will take to get yourself and everyone else ready and then double it!

Morning of your family photo session

Don’t over-do makeup. Just apply it as you normally would.

Allow yourself and everyone involved plenty of time to have breakfast and get ready. Try to stay relaxed – children will often mirror the emotions of their parents, so if you are stressed, they will likely feel that way too.

Also, even if the session is for the children only, moms and dads should come dressed. Anxious little ones may not feel comfortable in front of the camera without mom and dad, so best to be ready for your close-up just in case!

For some people, just the thought of coordinating professional family photos causes intense stress, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Knowing what to expect and how to prepare can alleviate any stress and make your session with a professional family photographer an enjoyable experience for everyone!

Jennifer McCarren of Freckled Flower Photography specializes in newborn, child photography and family photography in North Atlanta, Georgia locations such as AlpharettaMiltonRoswell, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Marietta and Canton.

Freckled Flower Photography is a proud member of  Professional Photographers of America.

Freckled Flower Photography has been featured more than once on Beyond the WanderlustMozi MagazineInspire- Digital or Not Fine Art Photography MagazinePhoto ArtistryPretty Forum and many others. I’ve also been published in CHIC Critique Magazine: The Vintage Issue, Young Kids Fashion Magazine and Petite Magnifique Magazine.

Contact me here to request more information about an Atlanta photography session, or you can follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, where I announce special offers and share my favorite images from recent photo sessions. I’d love to send you my newsletter as well – scroll up to enter your email address on the left.

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