Sarah Rowan

Painter.  Photographer.  Freedom Fighter.


5 Unique Tips for Family Photo Shoots

Posted by Sarah Rowan Dahl on May 6, 2015 at 11:20 PM

Taking family photos is a lot of fun...and a challenge.  So many personalities and ages to work with, and and often families always ask me for advice prior to their shoot.  Now instead of rambling on the phone or Facebook for 10 minutes, I have this blog.  Brilliant.  Copy link.  Paste.  Done.  You're welcome.

1) The #1 Tip: DO NOT FIGHT or STRESS OUT before the photo shoot.

As a photographer I can see it in the interaction and expressions on couples faces when they have been stressed about directions, parking, clothes, hair, etc prior to the shoot.  It comes into the photos and not only does it show...couples can often remember the stress of the moment looking back at the images.

I would rather start 15-20 minutes late than have couples stressed and screaming down the road trying to make the session on time when the kids couldn't find their shoes or couldn't find the car keys, etc moment happens.  Family photo shoots should be memorable, fun, light-hearted and full of love.  So no nagging allowed!  Let everyone feel comfortable in their own skin, with their hair and clothes (for the most part) the way they like it...don't worry if the skirt has a few wrinkles.  Breathe.   

2)  EAT BEFORE the shoot!!

Let's face it.  Kids eat ALL the time.  The last thing a parent or a photographer needs is a cranky child (or husband) because they are hungry.  Eat before coming AND have a few little treats packed particularly if you have toddlers or young ones.  This also provides the photographer with the perfect opportunity for a few minutes of uninterrupted couple shots as the kiddos munch. 


3)  Wardrobe:  Limit PATTERNS and Say NO to big LOGOS & characters

Avoid loud patterns, or something that is super trendy this year as it will age the photo quickly.   Wear what you feel beautiful in!!  Most of my family shoots are at my local beach and wind is often a factor.  If women wear skirts and their hair down, they will find themselves too distracted by their own wardrobe to enjoy the shoot.  

BIG LOGOS ARE A PAIN IN THE ASS AND STAND OUT LIKE THESE ALL CAPS!!! THEY REMOVE FROM FACIAL EXPRESSIONS!!!  Nothing is more irritating than one rebellious teenager with an obscene t-shirt standing next to their grandmother with an empty stare.

Another important tip: wear colours that coordinate...not match.  White shirts and jeans on a family of five is rather old fashioned these days.  Layers and accessories are a great way to add texture to images too.  Look at your home decor.  Is it bright and quirky or neutral and subdued?  If you plan on printing a large family photo, have the wardrobe coordinate with your home decor.

 4)  Hey Kids, it's just ONE Hour

Let's be honest.  Kids can be the most incredible fun subject to photograph, or the biggest pain in the ass.  Their moods can change quickly and they have very few filters for "proper photo etiquette".  If you want the shoot to run smoothly, just have a fun family treat planned after the shoot.  Ice cream, movies, eating out together...something...anything, to BRIBE and motivate them for good behaviour.  As a child, my mother used to get studio shots of my brothers and I each year.  Apparently one year, all three of us were such horrors that by the time we finally arrived at the shoot our pictures were already ruined because of our attitudes.  She was exhuasted physically and emotionally trying to drag us around.  Suck it up kids, it's just one hour.  Be nice and smile.  


5)  Recreate a POSE!

A lot of laughter and great memories can be captured if family members think back to their favourite images from years ago.  For instance, I did a shoot of four adult siblings who, as children had picked up their youngest brother and held him with a goofy cute youthful look.  They recreated the pose from 15 years before and resulted in loads of laughter and love filling the shoot.


Categories: Photography

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