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How to prepare for a Family Photo Session

Updated: Dec 27, 2021

As a Northern Virginia Family photographer for over 15 years, I know how much your family will appreciate an amazing family photo where everyone is together and smiling. I think it’s safe to say that, in the moment, family photo sessions can bring a level of stress that no one wants to deal with. Here’s a few tips to make the most of your family session so everyone is ready and stress free!


Create a plan with your photographer to determine the best time of day for your family’s schedule. If you have young children, this might be after nap time or a time of day when they are the most happy and playful. This is valuable information for you and your photographer so ensure everyone is set up for success!


Make sure that you have everything laid out and ready to go a few days before your session. If there are props you want to use for your session get them all together and put them in the same spot. This way you are not running around the house trying to gather things day of and it gives you time to make sure there’s not something you forgot about!


Hanger is real - Don’t let it ruin the session! Even if you plan on going out to eat or making a meal together after the session, make sure you have a snack or eat prior. If no one is hungry throw some of your family’s favorite snacks in a bag to bring with you – just in case! If you are planning to eat before the photo session, make sure it’s not something messy so you don’t have any stains! (Pasta and BBQ will have to wait!)


Let your family know in advance that you are going to be taking photos and why it’s important to you and your family’s legacy! Make it fun and look at old family photos from when you were growing up and share stories about the people in the photos as you look through. If you don’t have any, explain to them why it’s important for you to have them now. Communication in advance of your photo session date can help things run smoothly the day of and ensure everyone brings their best smiles!

Go with the flow

You’ve made your plan, prepared, had a snack, and communicated your expectations to your family for the photo shoot and now you just have to show up and go with the flow! This is important for families to remember at any stage but especially families who have young children or are bringing their fur babies with them. Things might not go just as planned or how you imagined them but trust your photographer and make the best of it by keeping an open mind and a winning smile, they want you to have an amazing time with them just as much as you want an amazing family photo. Your photographer has the experience to guide you through the process to make sure you get that winning shot of your family.

Of course, every session and every family are different and there can be situations I have not listed here (weather, traffic, etc.!) that are out of everyone’s control. I hope that this helps you plan a successful family photo session.

With over 15 years of experience, we specialize in Weddings, Family Sessions, and Business Branding Photography Owner, Jeanine Finch's style is described as candid, crisp, fun and bright, with a flare of photojournalism.

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