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Guide: How to Have an Incredible Family Photo Shoot

Updated: Nov 16, 2022


Life can get SO crazy and time can feel like it’s flying by. This is precisely the reason to get a professional family photo shoot! You will want to capture these fleeting moments that seem to pass by so quickly. I know that family life (but actually Just life in general) can sometimes be a little stressful, and a family photo session is a great way to have fun, relax, and capture some memories! It’s also a fun way to get to let loose and get a little silly!

Family shoots are all about what you make of them, and there are endless possibilities! Locations, outfits, props…. the options are limitless! I’m going to go over some tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years so you and your family can have the most fun family photo session that is authentic to you.


I have photographed so many family shoots over the years, I’ve lost track of how many, and they are ALWAYS a good time! I’ve definitely learned gained some wisdom in those years, and here are a few reasons why family sessions are such a great idea:

1). Family sessions are great for getting out of your comfort zone and TREATING YOURSELF. Getting your photograph taken can feel super awkward and silly, but you will feel so empowered after. Not only did you did a (potentially) scary thing, you will walk away with so many memories and smiles!

2). The photos from a family session are memories of their own (and an extension of your family relationship together) . Getting family photos taken is almost like having a dedicated artist cover your life with your family, if only for a little bit. Not only will the photo session be a fun memory, you get to have a visual depiction of this more very special day.

I will get into further suggestions, but a big takeaway to getting amazing family photos is to make it personal and meaningful to you!


1). Comfort Is Key. This is what it all comes back to. Or maybe that’s just me. I’m a HUGE fan of comfort. You won’t be able to relax and feel good for the camera if you’re not feeling comfortable in your clothes which leads you to be comfortable in your skin. My goal as your photographer is to capture those natural, organic, authentic moments where you all just SHINE. To really capture those, it’s important for you to relax and be comfortable.

2). Coordinate Colors, Don’t Match. So, we want to work with a color palette and *NOT* matching colors, you feel me? Color matching will leave you with those incredibly cheesy photos of family reunions on the beach wearing the same pastel color (unless you’re into that thing, then maybe I’m not the photographer for you). So what does that mean? It means picking 2-3 colors that can play off each other and complement each to the essence of inevitability. It leaves some fun wiggle room for everyone in the shoot and can really help bring out personalities as well! (here’s a Color Wheel to see some examples).

3). Wearing a vivid color can help make you pop! Sometimes, when you just look really amazing in that color, you just have to wear it! Wearing a statement piece, perhaps something with a little more saturation, can look really incredible and make for some dramatic-esque images. So don’t be afraid to get a little fancy, a little bit Beyoncé.

4). Get creative with different materials and textures. I’m talking velvet, satin, suede. Maybe it’s just a satin scarf or suede shoes. But these little details can add so much and can really elevate your family photos.

5). What absolutely not to wear! Some articles of clothing just do not work, so here’s where I’m going to tell you what to avoid. DO NOT WEAR graphic tees or anything with a logo. These do not photograph well, and pull the viewer's eye directly to them (I guess that’s called marketing!). DO NOT WEAR large patterned tops for the same reason. Small patterned tops or bottoms are fine.


Getting your photograph taken can already feel a bit vulnerable, so why not just blow this outta the water! The photos will be extra special because of this (not to mention wholly and completely you!) It can be as simple as choosing a location that means something to the both of you or an activity you all enjoy together. I may ask you questions (with your consent first, of course) to prompt some interactions between the two of you

A few ways to add personality and realness to your family session:

• Your favorite park

• Play any instruments? Bring ‘em along

• Have an in home session if you love to garden, cook, etc

• Let’s head downtown to get an more urban session feel

• Go explore somewhere new (I’ve got plenty of recommendations!)


For families who are also pet parents, your family session is a great time to get photos with them (and highly encouraged)! I have a dog myself, and lord knows I want to bring him everywhere I go! If your dog is particularly high energy, maybe bringing along a family friend to help them hold your pup for a few shots can be a good idea.


It's 100% normal to feel some of those nervous butterflies we all know before having your photo taken. Even if you have taken countless phone photos of the fam, it’s always a little different to be in front of a professional photographers’ camera.

But not to worry, that "awkward" feeling should go away within a few minutes of working together. I will be able to help you feel more at ease, comfortable, and confident in front of the camera; I know all the tips and tricks to help you relax and until you almost forget I’m there. Just think of it as you spending time with your family while your photographer friend tags along to capture some moments.

I can’t tell you how many times someone has said, “That was SO MUCH FUN! I wasn’t really expecting that!”- which says two things. One, that you’re not alone in feeling awkward about a photoshoot. And two, YOU WILL HAVE FUN!


This question definitely reflects back to the “MAKE IT YOU” section up above. I think the most important thing to consider when it comes to your family shoot location is what kind of vibe you want, and do you want to make it authentic to you?

• Do you want urban/city vibes?

• Or something more natural? A forested trail or waterfall?

• Maybe something more fun like a fair or carnival?

• How about an epic mountain top adventure?

There are so many options, but overall think about what speaks to your family unit. Maybe you LOVE being outdoors, but want to go for something different with afamily shoot at your local fair. Or maybe you’re huge movie buffs and you want to do your family shoot at the drive-in. Maybe you are a skiing family and we take it to the slopes! The possibilities are infinite!!

Some great places to consider:

• Local, State or National Parks There are reasons these places are parks- beauty is everywhere! If there is a specific location within your favorite park, be sure to let your photographer (again, hopefully me!) know. They may know the spot and be able to tell you the best time of day to go for some epic shots! Make sure to check to see if any permits are needed beforehand.

• Carnivals/Fairs How much fun would it be to take your family session to the county fair! Think sunset shots on the ferris wheel- you can’t beat that!

• Beach We have the most beautiful sunsets here on Lake Champlain, so let’s go down to the beach and get some memorable shots!

• Around the City Do you just love your city or town? Then let’s do a city tour! We can incorporate all your favorite spots into the session.

• At Home An at-home session may be the perfect option for you; there’s no other place where you’re going to feel more comfortable and literally “at home”!

The best part about living in Burlington, VT, the urban is so close to the natural beauty so we can combine multiple locations!

FAMILY PHOTO SESSIONS- Other Things to Consider with young children

Working with families can mean small children, and we have a few tips and tricks to help make your photos the BEST they can be.

Snacks: Leave snacks until AFTER the photoshoot. It may seem like snacks would be good idea to get your child to behave and you're not wrong, but kids are messy eaters and the mess will inevitably end up all over their faces and potential on their outfits.

Kids Call The Shots: I will have a general framework for out photoshoot (where we will start, what poses we will try), but kids can sometimes have their own agendas. If your child is feeling particularly impish, we will just flow with it. If they are going to cry if you pick them up, we will get down to their level. If your child is really obsessed with seeing that snake they caught a glimpse of, we will go with. No matter what the session brings, I promise you that you will leave with some beautiful memories captured.

Comfort: Sometimes kids just don’t want to wear what you would like to them to wear, especially when it comes to family photo time! I think that having a theme is great, but when it comes down to it, if they don’t want to wear those cute shoes, we can just let it be. Better to be shoeless than crying in photos!


Here are some common questions I get asked about family photo shoots.

Q: What should I do with my hands? I get this question a lot and it’s something most people don’t realize until they are in front of the camera. But not to worry! I will gently guide you into (easy) poses so you don’t need to worry too much about this ahead of time. The biggest takeaway is connection; I will have you connected in some way or another, whether that is holding hands as you stroll down the path, or in a one big loving embrace. Eventually you’ll end up taking the reins in posing without even knowing it (and those are the best shots since you’ll forget I’m even there!).

Q:Should we include props in our shoot? In short, YES! If there are things you'd like to include - bring them along! Maybe you are a baseball family and want to have a catch. Maybe some playful play scarfs to add movement to the shoot. Maybe it’s the new tricycle that you just got for your little one.

That being said, try to not get too carried away as these things can sometimes distract from your connection with one another, but having something that can distract you from the camera (seriously!) is a great way to feel more comfortable in front of the lens.

Q: Can we include our dog/cat/child/etc. in some photos? Heck yes! I love when couples include pets and kids into the shoot; they are part of your story, after all! It can be helpful to have a family member or friend who can take any pets or spend time with children for some of the shoot so we have some quality time alone together.

Q: Where should we have our family photos taken? I definitely have my favorite locations and go-tos in Vermont, but I also love it when my couples have a special place of their own they want to revisit! Sometimes it's just a matter of having a simple conversation and brainstorming ideas together. Another way to approach this is to think about some places that are meaningful to the your family, or fun things you like doing together. Maybe you love to cook dinner as a family using veggies from your backyard garden. Maybe you love to hike and want to revisit a favorite trail or explore a new one. The sky's the limit!

Q: What time of year is best for family pictures? In Vermont, the Spring and Fall months tend to be particularly popular thanks to the blooming flowers and insane foliage. Winter is also a super popular option if you’re a winter sports enthusiast or just want to incorporate the magic of the winter into your shoot. If you hate the cold, maybe summer is the better option. But I think it is really a personal preference and also depends on what and where you might want to go for your family session.

Q: When using family pics for holiday cards, how far in advance should I have my session? Plan to have your session at least 4 weeks before you want to mail out your holiday cards so your photographer has enough time to edit the chosen images and get them back to you. We can offer expedited editing services as well.


I hope you enjoyed these insider tricks and tips for making your family session only awkward for second and way less than you thought it would be, and most importantly FUN! You are not fully ready to walk into the photoshoot like the BOSS that you are and crush it! YOU GOT THIS!!

Ready to book your family session with us? Click here and send us a message. I can't wait to work together!


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