How to prepare for your family photoshoot

November 20, 2020

You have your first family shoot coming up and still so many questions! Whether you feel bad asking your photographer yet another question (which you shouldn’t!), or it is just too embarrassingly close to shoot time to inquire more, this post will be your go-to guide to your family shoot. 

With insight from one of Victoria, BC’s top photographers, Marlboro Wang, I’ve curated this post to answer all of your pressing family photoshoot-related questions.

Whether you are wondering what you should wear, if you should tell your kids ahead of time that they have to pose for photos for an hour, or how you should prepare your family, I’ve got you!

Here are 8 tips for preparing for your family photoshoot!

Photos by Marlboro Wang Photography

1. What to Wear and What Not to Wear

When it comes to family shoots, Marlboro says that the question of “What should I wear?” always arises. He says that his answer is always the same: Don’t wear red or any strong colours. Instead, stick with neutral colours like light grey or even light blue and navy. Avoid any shirts with writing on them too. It is distracting in the photo and makes it harder to look cohesive with the rest of the family. You should also choose comfortable and casual outfits that are on the nicer side, but not too fancy. He recommends a t-shirt and jeans as they are a simple and nice go-to! And make sure you dress according to the season. That means, if it is cold outside, don’t force everyone to wear t-shirts! Another common clothing-related question I am sure you have asked yourself is, “Should we match?”. Lot of families think they should match for family photos, but most photographers advise against this. Try to just stick with coordinating colours. 


2. Look for Inspiration on Pinterest Ahead of Time

While your photographer will have a million great poses for you to do, if there are certain poses you like that you’ve seen families do online, bring in some examples! Your photographer won’t mind because it is your shoot after all. I recommend browsing on Pinterest and seeing if any pose really catches your eye. However, that does not mean you should develop the list of every single pose you want for your 40 photos you get with this shoot. Your photographer knows best because guess what! This is their job. Instead, just recommend a few that you really admire and leave the rest to them. It will make the day all the less stressful.

Photo by Marlboro Wang Photography

3. Make Sure Everyone is Fed...Not Just the Kids!

It is not only essential to make sure the kids are fed (and have had their naps) before the shoot, but also you and your partner, or whoever is involved in the shoot! The last thing you want is your stomach rumbling while you are trying to wrangle your wild kids. When it comes to deciding the time of the shoot, Marlboro recommends avoiding lunch, dinner, or nap times. That way, you aren’t messing up with your implemented eating and nap schedule.

4. Relax and Have Fun!

“Don’t think of it as a photoshoot where everyone has to smile,” advises Marlboro. The forced smile will never look better than the natural smiles. Think of it as a family walk in the park instead to ease the pressure off things, rather than a stressful photography session. Relax and have fun! This is the best way to attend a photo shoot.


5. Don’t Make a Big Deal About It to the Kids

Don’t promise the kids a prize after the shoot otherwise they will keep thinking about the prize and not corporate because kids are impatient! Let them feel like they are just going out and playing. Here’s what Marlboro says: “As a photographer, I usually don’t start to shoot right away, I will spend a little time learning the kid’s names and get them comfortable with me. I make them do things like hug their parents, whisper in their parents’ ear, run away, or tickle each other. Those tricks will usually make them laugh and relax. After a few laughs the kids are usually ready to do most of the things you ask them to.” If the kids feel comfortable, the whole shoot will be easier on everyone!


Photo by Marlboro Wang Photography

6. Having An Off Day? Consider Rescheduling

If the kids or anyone involved in your shoot is having an off day, consider rescheduling the shoot. There is no point dragging your kids to it after they had an all-day tantrum, only to take the photos and realize they are screaming or crying in all of them! When multiple people are involved in a shoot, things don’t always go according to plan. Family photographers are aware of this. Send them a message if today really isn’t a good day and they will understand.


7. Ask the Kids to Bring One of Their Favourite Toys

Even if your shoot is only an hour long, that is a long time for a kid to sit still. Marlboro highly encourages you to let your child bring their favourite toy along for the experience. Not only will it entertain them when they get fussy and restless, but it might make them more eager to be part of the shoot if their toy is getting photographed too. 


8. Let the Kids See the Pictures

If possible, ask the photographer to show the kids the pictures once a while. “I usually show the kids and the parents the photos every 5 to 10 minutes or so,” says Marlboro. If your photographer isn’t doing this, don’t feel afraid to ask. The kids love to see their own photos and I bet you parents love to see photos of you kids even more. While they are reviewing their photos on my camera, Marlboro also encourages them by telling them how wonderful they are and what a good job they are doing. This helps keep them happy and positive for the shoot because they feel like they are being included. They aren’t being ignored because they are children, and instead, they are involved in the whole process. It also ensures more smiles rather than frowns!

Photo by Marlboro Wang Photography

Hopefully after reading through these 8 helpful tips, you feel a little more prepared for your upcoming family shoot. 

Don’t stress too much because it is supposed to be a fun, enjoyable, and memorable time with your family. Put your trust in your photographer because as you can see from their portfolio, they are a professional! They will take the reins and deliver some beautiful photos, don’t you worry.

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