Family photos are priceless possessions, but there is a lot of work that goes into getting ready for a family photo session.  I usually spend weeks planning all the details. Through the years, I have learned eight steps to ease some of the stress of preparing for an outdoor, family photo session.

  1. Consider the season before you schedule your photo session. The most recent photo session of my family was in July. We live in Texas, so it was HOT! To help with the heat we started the session at seven p.m. and I dressed the family in shorts and dresses. Despite starting late and wearing light clothing, it was almost unbearably hot. The heat had an impact on everyone’s mood.  We did it in July because of my daughter’s birthday. Our pictures turned out great, but the experience was hampered by the heat. If you can, try and schedule your session during a time of year where the weather will be comfortable.  
  2. Get haircuts at least two weeks before the session. I follow this rule because there have been times when the stylist cut my husband’s or son’s hair too short. If this happens, there will be a little time for the hair to grow. This tip also depends on how quickly your hair grows, so you may need to adjust the timeline to meet your specific needs.
  3. Coordinate your outfits, but do not match everyone. In my opinion, it is distracting when everyone in the picture is wearing the same thing. It does not look natural and reminds me more of a work or private school photo where everyone has to wear uniforms.
  4. Dress nicer than usual, but not out of character (same for make-up). Everyone wants to look their best in family pictures. However, if you dress or do your makeup in a dramatically different way, you may be unrecognizable. This is not the time to take risks when it comes to your clothes and makeup. You want to look back at the pictures and see something that represents who you were at that time.
  5. Find clothes for the most difficult person first and then coordinate everyone else around him or her. In my family, I am the most difficult person. I found my dress after weeks of searching. It had several colors in it, so I dressed each member of my family in one or more of those colors and/or shades of those colors.
  6. Shop in your closet first. I bought a new dress for our photo session, but I found some of the clothes for my husband and son’s in their closets. In my opinion, it is usually not necessary to buy everyone a completely new outfit. I wanted all the guys to wear shorts and they all already owned shorts that would work for the session. This is a way to save some money, especially if you are already spending a lot on the session itself.
  7. Find a quilt and any props that you want to use a week before the session. In outdoor, natural light photo sessions it is common to see the family sitting on a quilt. Some people also use props in these sessions. I have a kid-sized, antique chair that I have brought to sessions for each of my kids. If you have something that is meaningful to you, representative of your family, or just beautiful-bring it, and see if the photographer can work it into some of the photos. Make sure and do this ahead of time so you are not running through the house on the afternoon of the session trying to find those items.
  8. Finally, try your best to enjoy the experience. You can tell the difference between a fake smile and a genuine smile, especially from your loved ones. If all of you are miserable during the photo session, it will come through in the pictures. Have fun. Do not worry about what the photographer thinks. His or her goal is the same as yours, a great set of family photos. So, be silly, crack a few jokes, and try to have fun. You will love the pictures so much more when you can look back at the photo session as an enjoyable experience.
Family Photo
Credit: Morgan Gauntt Photography

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Canvas photo prints are a unique way to display your favorite pictures from your family photo session.