Family Photo Session Tips | Family Lifestyle Photography

lifestyle family session

So, you’ve decided you want a family portrait session. Now what?! Here are some family photo session tips to consider.

Studio vs. On location.

The first thing I recommend is deciding what type of portrait you want. Are you looking for a studio setting or something on location? I know many studio photographers who are amazing at what they do. I appreciate their ability to work with studio lighting and the portraits they create. I, myself, don’t photograph families with my small home studio set-up, but I have many recommendations for those studios who can accommodate families.

I have enjoyed learning studio lighting, and will continue to work with it to learn more as I want to explore all kinds of photography. But, that’s a whole other post. Yes, you will see some studio images in my portfolio, and I do have mini-sessions at my home with a backdrop. Usually these are milestone sessions of babies and children, or birthday cake smashes.

Most of the time, I’m working with natural or available light, and work on location where my clients are. Fortunately, there are many different professional photographers with businesses these days, and you have the freedom to find one with a style that fits your family. I recommend looking through their images to see what kind of work they produce. My style really is documentary and photo journalistic in essence.  The majority of my work—and what is nearest and dearest to my heart—is lifestyle photography. It’s capturing you and your family as you are, doing what you love and where you love to be.


Once you’ve found the photographer you want to work with based on their style, I would contact them to schedule a consultation. This is where you can talk about what you’re looking for in your session and get a feel for the photographer too. I try to meet with clients in person, or we at least visit over the phone before we book the session. I want to get to know you, find out who you are, what you are looking for in a session, what you enjoy doing as a family, and how you want to display your photos.

I do not recommend contacting several photographers in an attempt to price shop. It is my personal opinion that if you are going to take the time to invest in custom portraits, you realize the value in that investment. Another thing to remember if you are comparing photographers based on price is that you need to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples so to speak. Each photographer has a different business model, expenses and income they need to make in order to be profitable, as well as level of service they provide. Now, I also realize we all have a family budget, and you certainly have to be aware of that. But, if the photographer you love and want to work with is a little above your budget, rather than trying to find someone less expensive, try saving up for your session. I’ve done this because I knew it was that important to me. And many photographers, including myself, offer payment plans, when necessary.

You will feel better in the end knowing you hired the right photographer to capture your family’s portraits, and will enjoy the experience that much more. That’s why the consultation is so important, as you get your questions answered and go over all of the details for a successful session.


Dress Mom first. Yes, that’s what I said. I believe Mom is the most important person in your family session, so you should pick colors and an outfit that you love and feel fabulous wearing.

Now if you are not a mom booking your family session, I have other recommendations for clothing. Again, another reason why the consultation is so important. :0)

As a fellow mom, I realize this is sometimes hard to do. We usually put ourselves last, picking kids’ outfits first, and worrying over what they will wear and how it all fits together. I’ve been guilty of that myself. But, again, I recommend starting with Mom’s outfit, then building around it, with coordinating, but not necessarily matching outfits on the other family members. Wear clothing that adds to your story, but doesn’t take away from the people in it. In reality, choose clothing and colors that appeal to your family, are comfortable for them to wear and move in. Because, let’s face it, if little Jimmy is wearing an itchy sweater than he’s not going to be himself or have very much fun. AND, there’s no point in investing time and money in a family portrait session if you’re not having FUN! Which leads me to my next point…


I almost always suggest photographing your family in and around your home. Now, for some this may be exactly what you had in mind as well. For others, your home might not be the first thought that comes to mind. But, let me explain. Your family will be comfortable there, especially if you have little ones, and because my style is more about capturing who your family is and your interactions together, your home can be a beautiful place to express that. And, many times, clients who were at first hesitant actually loved their images even more because of how personal they are to them. And that’s the whole point of why I began photographing families—to tell your story, and not just take a picture of what you look like. I encourage families to think about what they do together they enjoy most. Maybe you race motor cross, ride horses, or go hiking together and enjoy the outdoors. Or maybe you live out in the country, farming or raising animals. Maybe you love a great game of football or miniature golf. My advice is to think about those hobbies, special activities and locations you enjoy as a family when deciding on a location for your family portrait session.

All of my newborn family sessions are done in your home—capturing every day moments, snuggles, hugs and kisses. Those times are so fleeting. When my babies were just born, I remember sitting there rocking them, and wanting time to just stand still. I wanted someone to be there to capture that simple time because I knew it would go by so fast, and I wanted a tangible image to bring me back to that special time.

In addition, many times, I’ve found myself not taking my camera on a family activity because I didn’t want to worry about it, or I’m not in the photos with my family because I’m taking them. A lifestyle portrait session can be the perfect opportunity to capture your family in a unique, personal and special way. It’s truly about capturing your lifestyle.

Portrait products.

Think about how you want to display your images. Are you looking for a large wall portrait for above the mantle or a collection of wall art? Do you have friends and family scattered all over who you want to be able to share prints with? Do you want your whole story told, including details, moments and emotions, that bring you back to that day and time in your family’s history? Because of the photojournalist nature of my photography, I shoot and edit my YOURStory sessions for an album. In fact, all of my Your Story sessions include an album with them. Here are samples of YOURStory Albums. You can see how this is the perfect way to tell your story and capture your family’s lifestyle.

I hope these family photo session tips help you the next time your planning on having memories of your family captured. I’d love the opportunity to tell your story, so call me for a consultation!

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