The more people involved in a photo shoot, the more there will be a chance for chaos and misunderstanding and frustration. That’s just a fact. Because people. Of course, we’re here to mitigate that and we’re quite good at it. ((patting us on the back)) But there are also a lot of things you can do to guarantee not just surviving a family photo shoot but having fun while doing so.
We’ll take a look at tips for photo shoots with children and then with extended family. We’ll break this down for you into before and during tips to make things easier.
As we always say, make sure to focus on why you’re doing this. You love these people (even when they’re being a pain in the butt!) and you want to preserve these memories for later. You also probably would like to have a good time, so work with someone who brings that energy. ((cough… us… cough)) Go here to read more about how we Meads approach family and portrait photography.
Surviving a family photo shoot with children
Before the day…
- plan, plan, plan. We’ll help with this, of course, but the more planning you do beforehand, the better things will go on the day of.
- it seems obvious that you don’t want to wait until the last minute to plan outfits, but take this up a notch: don’t wait until the last minute to prep those outfits. Clean and set aside all the special clothing, including all the underclothes, shoes, and accessories like jewelry, hair pieces, hats, etc.
- when selecting outfits, keep in mind what your children would tolerate on an average day. If they aren’t normally okay with headbands, for example, why use one for a photo shoot? It’s cute, but it’s likely going to cause an issue.
- be aware of your own jewelry. Are you wearing something that will only distract kids and turn into possible toys?
- plan hair and makeup ahead of time. Don’t do anything drastically different. If you know someone hates having her hair in a ponytail, don’t put it in a ponytail.
- here are some tips for planning outfits for your family photo shoot.
- keep props simple for the same reason. They can easily become distractions and turn into unneeded games.
- pack snacks and drinks. Keep them simple and think about mess. Hide them from younger children unless your friendly photographer (that’s me!) asks you to offer some.
- prepare a bag of tricks: hand wipes, tissues, a favorite toy (for last resort), perhaps an extra shirt… think ahead. What might happen considering your unique child/ren?
- if your children are old enough, have a family sit down and talk about what you’re about to do. Describe the day. Talk about concerns. Tell them why this is important to you.
The day of…
- think about how long it normally takes to get your family ready to go somewhere special. Then add lots of time to that so you’re not already fed up with each other before you even leave the house.
- arrive on time. Your photographer will appreciate this but also? It’s best not to arrive flustered and already full or adrenaline. We want you to start out in peaceful space… all of you. As much as possible.
- let the kids be kids. It’s best to let them be the boss(es), so to speak. Follow their lead. Trying to control them or get them to do certain poses is likely not going to work. So keep an open mind about what the story your photos are going to tell. When we approach the experience this way, you’ll get the story of your unique family and not some preconceived notion about what family photos “should” look like.
- relax and just be with each other. Pay attention to each other and not the idea of having your photos taken. You don’t want to look at the photos later and remember that the day was difficult.
Surviving an extended family photo shoot
Before the day…
- if you need some convincing about this larger project, here are some reasons to have a multigenerational photo shoot.
- a lot of the same tips apply, including bags of snacks. Adults can get just as grouchy as children if they’re overstimulated and underfed. (Or is that just me? Tell me that’s not just me…)
- when it comes to a photo shoot that spans many decades in age, you really want to take extra time to consider your location. Perhaps you will want to make sure there are options other than standing or being on the ground. Find a place that has some sort of seating. That’s not too hard in a beautiful park.
- if there are a lot of people involved, you might want to let go of the idea of outfit coordination and just let each smaller family unit be totally themselves.
- make sure everyone is clear that this is a group photo shoot. It’s about the extended family and not about the units that make that up.
The day of…
- try to impress upon everyone the importance of arriving on time. We know that with some family members this can be… quite challenging. But it really does set the tone for the day.
- don’t worry too much about what the kids are up to. Let the adults act as anchors in the photos. If the group is large, you’ll probably have at least one child looking the wrong way in every shot. Give in to the beauty of imperfection. Photos like that, again, contain stories. You all aren’t a bunch of robots. And we’ll do our best to get everyone’s attention at the same moment. We have all kinds of tricks so let us do the worrying.
- just like with your own nuclear family, relax and enjoy one another.
Remember that you’re doing this … to remember. Everything and everyone changes so fast. Take these moments to capture what is in this moment. And think about doing this on a more regular basis so you can look back through time and not miss a chapter.
A little side note: make sure to date and label your family photos for future generations. And if you have old photos for which you have no idea of dates, go here for some helpful tips about how to figure that out.