6 Tips for Successful Family Photography Sessions

As summer comes to an end, the beginning of the fall portrait season starts to pick up. Many families schedule their annual portrait during this time because of the beautiful foliage and also to update family photographs. In the Boston area we are lucky to have some incredible photographers! Whether you're looking for a more traditional portrait session, a lifestyle or documentary session, or a hybrid, there should be someone in the area whose work you love. To help make your session go smoothly this fall, I reached out to some of my favorite family photographers in the Boston area for their advice.

1. Try Something New and Document a Family Tradition

Carlee Kettell www.ckdesign.net

This could be as simple as Sunday morning breakfast or as unique as a family sword fight in the playroom (toy swords of course). Whatever it is that your family has fun doing together, and that you want to remember, is what you should do. Years from now these are the memories that will mean the most to you.

2. Trust Your Photographer More Than Pinterest

Kate Lemmon www.katelphotography.com

Those pretty inspiration boards are great for just that -- inspiration. Pinterest can be a great starting point to learn what style appeals to you, but it can hinder your session when that Pinterest board becomes a play-by-play for your photographer. When you hire a professional, please trust us to draw inspiration from what's happening in the moment. The way your daughter plays with her curls, the way your son giggles with his whole body...those things happen spontaneously, and we need to be present in order to catch them. If we're worrying about recreating an exact image that was taken in a different place with different people and different lighting, we might miss something beautiful that's uniquely YOU.

And speaking of trust, try to keep an open mind during your photo session. Your photographer might ask you to do something that feels like a little out of your comfort zone, but there's probably a good reason behind it. The family in this image thought I was a little crazy when I asked them to lie down on the ground and throw leaves at me. But it ended up being one of the family's favorite images, and went on to win an international award. I'm so glad they trusted the image I saw in my head!

3. What You Wear Really Matters

Jen Bilodeau www.jenbilodeauphotography.com

Clothing is very important to the session. Textures, colors, and layers can really add beautiful depth and dimension to your images. Items that are great include sweaters, ruffles, scarves, lace, a jean jacket, a crocheted dress, and accessories such as bows, necklaces, funky shoes, and cute hats.  It's best for clothing to be free of distracting patterns, brand logos and graphics, although plaid and polka dots usually work well. And remember: color is wonderful! It's usually best NOT to dress everyone in white or navy. That being said, you probably don't want a whole rainbow of colors, so a good rule of thumb is to try and keep everyone within the same three "accenting colors" (colors other than gray, black, white and beige). If you are ever unsure, it can be helpful to bring several outfits and extra accessories or layers to your session so that you and your photographer can work together to create the look that is best for your session.

4. Have Fun and Relax

Bella Wang www.bellawangphotography.com

One of the toughest jobs for a photographer is to have clients open up to them once they take their lens cap off. Part of my skill set is being able to read people's body language well and use some humor or light chit chat to calm nerves and warm a child up to me. Taking the photo really is the easy part! Having a child smile, open up, and play with you is what makes my job so rewarding. Children are never fake. You can't tell them to smile. You can't ask them to have fun. They're either having fun, or they're not! And they will tell you the honest truth. As professionals, we create the environment in which they feel safe to be themselves. Kids read their parents so very well, so if you are stressed, be aware that they will know it too! So make sure you approach the session with an open mind and just have a blast with the professional you've selected in capturing your memories. Just know that we will always do our best to not only capture moments, but create memories and heirlooms that will last a lifetime.

5. Be True to Who You are as a Family

Anelise Tubinis www.aptubinisphotography.com

The internet can be great for providing some inspiration but let go of the visions of your friend's recent family session or what you saw on Pinterest and resist the urge to recreate a catalog shoot. Let the session tell the real story of the people in your family. That may mean letting your daughter wear her hair the way down if she always wears it down and loves it that way, rather than trying a fancy unfamiliar updo on her. It might mean letting your little one bring his tattered but beloved stuffed animal if that lovey goes everywhere else with him these days. It means being who you truly are as a family during the session whether that's silly or loud or super cuddly. When you look back at these photos, I want you to notice more than how fabulously coordinated your outfits were but mostly, I want you to remember that chapter in your family's story and say, “Yup, that is SO us." 

6. Print Your Photographs

Beth Ann Fricker www.bafphotography.com

Whether you are purchasing prints through your photographer or on your own, set aside part of your photography budget to create something tangible – be it a canvas, album, holiday card, or a framed print. This is especially important if you are only receiving digital files in your package. Technology is changing rapidly, hard drives fail and it would be heartbreaking if your family photos were lost. After my own family session, I printed an album right away so I wouldn’t procrastinate and it is so much fun to sit with my kids and go through it with them.

Image credits: All images courtesy of linked photographers above