Family Photo Shoot Tips – Updated for 2021-22

Mom and son family photoFamily photo shoots are important for capturing memories that you and your children will treasure for years. However, getting everyone in place and looking their best can be challenging. To corral everyone at the same time and get them to pose in the most photogenic manner isn’t easy. The following tips will help you get the best results from your family photo shoot.

Give the Family Time to Prepare
Make sure everyone knows when the photo shoot is taking place. Remind them often, and even put it on a family calendar. Advance notice will help avoid family members (especially those no longer living at home), from showing up at the last minute, sweating and out of breath. Young children will obviously need your assistance in planning for the shoot, but adults and older kids can think about what they want to wear, how to style their hair and may have some input on poses. The extra notice is also good for those family members that want to get a new outfit or haircut.

Mom Dad & their sons family photoYou also don’t want the family to show up at the photo shoot tired, hungry or stressed out. Give yourself enough time to eat. If it’s a morning shoot, make preparations the night before. Make sure everyone has a good night’s sleep, especially kids. If you want everyone to look their best, they need to feel their best.

Make Sure Everyone is on the Same Page
The whole family doesn’t have to be wearing matching outfits, unless that’s your preference. However, you don’t want styles or colors that conflict with each other. If the kids are dressed in their Sunday best and Dad is in torn jeans and a t-shirt, it will look a little strange. Decide what kind of image you’re going for, which may be formal, casual, outdoorsy, or humorous so family members are all in sync.

New parents - 1st family photoVisit the Hair Stylist or Beauty Salon
The photographer may provide makeup and hairstyling. Find out if this is part of the package. Beyond this, you may want to take care of personal grooming before the shoot. Consider the look you prefer. If you’ve been thinking of a new hairstyle or hair color, you may want to schedule an appointment with the barber, hair stylist or beauty salon. Your kids’ hair may need trimming as well. It’s best to do this within a week of the photo shoot but not right before as some hair products may dry out the hair. A new hair style or dye job often looks best after a day or two.

Bring Everything You Need


Make a list of snacks and accessories you may need for the shoot. It’s better to bring more than you need than to leave something out. Keep in mind that most things, including photo shoots, tend to take longer than you anticipate. The photographer may run late with another job. They may need time to set up their equipment. You may want to bring:

  • Snacks — Keep them healthy. You don’t want kids running around on a sugar high.
  • Clothing — For outdoor shoots, be aware of the weather. Hats, gloves, sweaters, and scarves may be needed to keep everyone warm. Aside from staying warm, you may want to bring additional outfits, so you have more diverse shots.
  • Accessories — Family members may want to be photographed with their favorite accessories, such as a jaunty hat, jewelry, fashion bag, watch, baseball glove, or anything else that’s part of their identity.
  • Anything appropriate for the setting. For example, if it’s a shoot at the beach or other body of water, remember towels and sunscreen.

Dress Comfortably
Depending on the type of photo shoot, your family may have a formal or casual appearance. Either way, you want everyone to be comfortable. Make sure everyone is dressed for the season. If people are too hot or cold or feel constricted, this will come across in the photos. This is also a good time to make sure clothes fit. Before a photo shoot is always a good time to take kids shopping so they aren’t trying to fit into clothes they’ve outgrown.

Family photo shoot by TavitIncorporate Your Interests and Hobbies
Family photos should represent the unique qualities your family possesses, including your favorite pastimes. Why not include fun activities as part of the photo shoot? Outdoor photo shoots can include nature scenes, hiking, sports, and fitness activities. Indoor shots can display people dancing, eating, drinking, playing board games or anything else that your family enjoys. In addition to personalizing the photos, familiar props and activities will help put everyone at ease.

Check out some more of our family photography photos.