How to prepare for a professional family photoshoot

5 Photoshoot tips that families need to know

By Sydney Photographer Ronny Berg

Proper preparation for your family’s professional photoshoot could actually spell the difference between having perfect pictures or substandard snapshots. It doesn’t matter if you simply want to capture a moment in time with your family or if it’s that time of year again when you need family photos for your holiday cards, it is always best to go into your photoshoot with a game plan.

Choose a date a few weeks in advance

This may not be the most important tip on this list but it is definitely the one that can have the most noticeable impact. Usually, when I have a last-minute spot open up, a lot of families are quick to jump at the chance to try and secure that date, even if it is just a few days away. However, once we actually start to discuss the details of the photoshoot, these families often come to the realisation that properly preparing for a professional photo shoot is going to take more than a few days. Is little Noah in dire need of a haircut? Does mom need to get a manicure? Is your ideal location not available on such short notice? Choosing a date at least a few weeks in advance gives you the opportunity to solve all of these issues and more.

Choose the ideal location for your photoshoot

Once upon a time, the goto setting for family photoshoots was simply a photo studio with a backdrop and a few props. Nowadays, outdoor locations are now the popular trend for family photography in Sydney but this does come with some challenges. When choosing a location, the most obvious factor that families have to keep in mind is the weather. This is why planning in advance is important because the weather is one of the most influential factors that we have no control over – sunshine or rain, we’re at nature’s mercy.

In addition to this, I often find that the best family photographs are taken at locations that are important to you as a family. Some examples of this are the park where you had your first family picnic with your son or the garden where your husband proposed to you. It is important that you visit your location ahead of time to find out if there are any rules or guidelines that relate to photoshoots taking place there.

Kids will be kids

Your kids aren’t grown-ups and they most likely aren’t professional models. So, as a result of this, you probably aren’t going to be able to get them fully on board the photoshoot train. Instead, what you will most likely have to do is plan the photoshoot around your kids so that it can still be successful. In my experience, I have found that this is especially true for parents that have younger children – convincing teenagers to sit still for a photo is often easier than convincing preschoolers to sit still for anything.

As the parent, it is up to you to schedule the photoshoot for the time of day that works best for your kids. Are they more agreeable when their tummy is full after breakfast? Are they calmer right after nap time in the afternoon? Lastly, don’t be afraid to let your kids run wild (within reason) during the photo shoot; I find that dynamic, candid photos capture the true essence of family life.

Things are definitely much easier when it comes to newborn photography. This is because instead of being unruly and running around, newborns are more concerned about more manageable tasks like eating, sleeping, and pooping. That being said, before a newborn photography session, parents should always make sure that their baby is well-rested and has a full tummy – this can help to avoid crying and crankiness.

Plan your family’s wardrobe

I know what you’re probably thinking and the answer is no – I’m not saying that everyone needs to have matching sweaters and I’m also not saying that your 5-year-old son needs to be dressed up like a miniature version of dad. Planning and coordinating your family’s wardrobe is a completely different concept compared to simply wearing matching clothes. Remember, you’re a family not a football team, so you don’t need to wear a “uniform” to your family photoshoot.

One factor that you should definitely keep in mind is complementary colours and patterns. Even if you don’t have a strong affinity for fashion, simple things like choosing varying shades of the same colour or pastels are a great way to make your family complement each other. In addition to this, your wardrobe should obviously be suitable for the weather, time of year, or the theme of the photoshoot. For example, if the photos are going to be used for cards for the holiday season, you may want to rethink the sundresses and the chino shorts because that might not be the look that you are after.

Last but not least, if you are preparing for a professional photoshoot, every member of your family should have a spare change of clothes on hand, just in case. Dad’s favourite pants might get muddy or mom might take a spill and get grass stains on her white dress – especially if you’re running around trying to herd kids. Speaking of young kids, an extra outfit (or two extra outfits) is a must for them because they might have a potty accident or they might just start rolling around on the ground pretending to be a snake.

Find a photographer that knows what they’re doing

This might seem like a no-brainer but hear me out; just because someone is a good photographer, that doesn’t mean that they are a good family photographer. Many professional photographers are great when it comes to taking photos that have planned poses and rehearsed smiles; however, they falter when they’re faced with candid scenarios. It is your responsibility to find a professional photographer that is great at adapting to changes and also excels at capturing the true spirit of your family dynamic.

Photos were supplied.

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