How to prepare for a family photoshoot

Your comprehensive guide to help you prepare for and get the most out of a family photoshoot.

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS on booking your photoshoot!

Chances are this was a significant financial investment for you, maybe there were obstacles in finding a date that worked for everyone,

or maybe you had to twist and arm or two.

So what comes next? You may be nervous about being in front of the camera, unsure on what to wear or worried the kids won’t pose for a single photo.

These are all completely normal concerns but I’ve got you.

I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of things you can do to prepare and ensure your photoshoot will be fun, relaxing AND the photos will turn out amazing.

Create a mood board

Any one of my clients can attest to this – I freaking love mood boards. I literally spend more time on Pinterest than any other platform.

I have a board for every area of my house, every project, every photoshoot. If there is a vegetarian brunch recipe on there, you better believe I’ve pinned it.

I’m telling you this to say that I am a visual person..

To begin preparing for your shoot, scan through Pinterest and Instagram to find some shots you love.

I will be putting together a list of ideas for your session and it really helps to know what kinds of photos you love most.

Maybe you like shots with a lot of emotion, or movement, close ups of those adorable freckly cheeks, dad giving out piggy back rides, cuddles on a picnic blanket or maybe you want to include the furry members of your family as well.

Here are a few search suggestions:

For Pinterest

Candid family photography

Creative photoshoot ideas

Family photoshoot poses

Summer / autumn / beach / golden hour family photoshoot

For Instagram





Choosing a location

Once you’ve booked your shoot and picked a date, the next decision is location.

I have a collection of locations I shoot at (and I’m always adding to the list).

The type of location will affect the colours and the overall feel of your images, so there are a few things to think about when choosing.

At home

It’s where the heart is, cheesy I know but it’s true. Your home is a representation of your family and can make the perfect setting. At home sessions work especially well for babies and toddlers.


– You have everything you need at your fingertips. If the baby needs a nappy change or your kids decides they are absolutely starving. There is no need to pack everything up with you.


– Lighting may or may not be great.

-You may not want to added stress of cleaning up the house the day before.



-Australia has some gorgeous beaches and they can make a stunning backdrop for your images. They are especially great for sweeping landscapes.

-The beach can provide entertainment for kids, which can be great for toddlers and young kids who get bored easily. Activities like looking for shells or splashing in the waves make great photos.


-Beaches can be really busy, especially if you are needing a weekend shoot.

-Beach shoots can require a lot of extra packing and lugging everything down to the water.

Forest or creek


-The lush greens make a beautiful dark and moody background.


-Often the best spots require a bit of walking or hiking to reach.



-The red and brown tones make beautiful photos.

-No crowds.


-You might need to drive a bit longer to get there.



-Lots of leading lines and interesting architecture to give your images a unique look.


-Parking might be more difficult and often not free.

-It can be tough to avoid crowds.

Session time

For outdoor sessions I always shoot at golden hour with our session ending around sunset.

It’s how I achieve the beautiful golden hues and flattering skin tones in my images.

For this reason my outdoor shoots usually start around 4:30-5:30PM depending on the time of year.

The only exception is if we are shooting in a creek or forest with limited lighting.

For these sessions, a little earlier in the day works better.

For indoor sessions it will depend on what time of day your home gets the best light.

We also have the flexibility to work around your kid’s routines, so I will work with you to choose the best time.

What to wear

Dressing your whole family is probably going to be the biggest thing to organise for your photoshoot.

Soon after booking your shoot I will email you a styling guide to help you.

You are also welcome to borrow from my client closet.

Here are some helpful tips for each member of the family:


  • Choose an outfit you feel comfortable in and that represents your personal style.
  • Soft, flowy dresses and skirts create beautiful movement in photos. When in doubt go for a maxi dress.
  • Don’t complicate things with excessive jewellery and accessories – less is usually more.
  • Choose comfy shoes. Ditch the heels and go for some comfy flats (or bare feet).


  • Keep it simple, but not too simple – Think about layers and textures; consider adding a jacket, sweater or a beanie.
  • Leave the graphic tees at home. Loud patterns and shirts with graphics or large logos will be distracting and can really take away from the shot.

Babies and Kids

  • It can be a good idea to choose 2 (or more) outfits, just in case of spills or a code 3
  • Choose comfortable items that will allow them to run and jump and play.
  • Let them show off their personality. If they have a favourite shirt or hat or tutu, why not. These are the things you will want to remember when they are older.
  • Another idea is to select two outfits and let them pick so they can contribute to the planning.


  • The key is to compliment each other without matching.
  • Decide on a colour scheme and choose a variety of colours, textures and shades that work well together.
  • Don’t go overboard on patterns. One or two patterned items is plenty.
  • Dress mum first. Start with mums outfit and go from there. If she is in a floral dress, use those colours as a guide and avoid too many other patterns.

Extended families

  • The same rules apply, it just gets a little trickier.
  • Send this guide to the decision makers (aka the mums and grandmas).
  • Decide on a colour scheme together and go from there.

General tips

  • Warm, earthy colours are easy to style and will flatter every skin tone. They are also my personal preference and suit my photography style.
  • Thin stripes, like pinstripes, don’t like the camera and are best to be avoided.
  • Refer back to Pinterest for inspiration and me if you need help.

My Pinterest board for family outfit inspo

Preparing a reluctant family member

Chances are not everyone is over the moon excited about being in front of the camera.

I just want to reassure you that this is so common, and I will do everything I can to put everyone at ease.

The best way to make things go smoothly is to manage their expectations and talk from the heart.

Let them know why having them in the photos is important to you, show them examples of the types of photos you want to achieve.

Show them some of my work and maybe even some of the reviews.

Sometimes family members turn up expecting to be in one or two photos maximum. If this isn’t what you want, make sure to have a conversation beforehand.

Reassure them that the session will be fun and relaxed and there will be no expectation for them to do anything other than enjoy the time with their family.

Preparing the kids

If your kids are old enough, talk to them about the photoshoot.

Explain what the day will be like and what you expect of them.

For younger kids it might be better to simply let them know where you are going and who will be there.

And if needed, talk about a post photoshoot reward. Ice cream usually works pretty well.

What to bring with you

A few things to bring along:

  • Anything you might need for touch ups; lipstick, a small mirror, hair brush and alternate outfits.
  • Non messy snacks (aka food bribes)
  • Location specific items; for example towels for the beach, water bottles etc.
  • Any props you would like to include
  • Baby wipes and tissues

Let’s talk prints

It can be a great idea to think about how you will display your photos before your shoot.

How and where you will place your images around your home could have an impact on the location you choose for your shoot, the colours you want to incorporate and the poses you want to use.

It can also help me plan a shot list. Maybe you’d like to get a large landscape print for a specific wall, lots of detail shots for an album or a fun photo for Christmas cards.

Or maybe you have a few empty frames you’d like to fill.

Talk to your me before hand so we can have a plan.

During your photoshoot

Here are my top tips for making the day go as smoothly as possible:

  • Leave way more time for getting ready than you think you’ll need. The last thing you want is to turn up feeling flustered and unprepared.
  • Arrive early, like really early. Especially if you have little ones or particularly shy kids. Leave plenty of time to get out of the car and refresh before your session starts.
  • Remember to relax, that might sound funny but so often families are a bit stressed and it shows in the photos. You will get the most out of your session if you take things slow and enjoy the time.
  • Don’t worry about posing. My style is very unposed and candid. I will give instruction as needed, but your job is to just be yourself. If you have a few specific shots your want to achieve, make sure to mention them. but it’s best to spend the majority of the time just having fun together.
  • To get those authentic, candid shots; just act the way you normally would – simple isn’t it. Play, laugh, tickle, cuddle and the photos will be amazing.
  • Don’t worry about telling your kids to smile, instead ask them a question, or tell them you’re going to tickle them.
  • Look at each other, not the camera. I’m not a huge fan of forced, overly posed shots.
  • Lastly, give yourself permission to be silly or to step outside of your comfort zone.

I hope that you now feel ready to start planning your shoot – I am so so excited to capture some beautiful photos for your family.

If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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