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Lifestyle and Portrait Photography in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe

info@davebentleyphotography.com480-253-9695

7017 S. Priest Dr., Tempe AZ 85283

© 2020 by Dave Bentley Photography

How to Prepare For Your Family Photos

Updated: Nov 15, 2019

For a lot of people, scheduling a family photoshoot can be stressful and time consuming. What do you wear? What time of day should you schedule? How much time will you need? Where should you take them? What's the weather going to be like? Will my 3 year old throw a temper tantrum? There's a lot to think about, so I tried to think of some of those questions and help provide answers. In the end, your photoshoot should be fun and relaxing!



1. Think about your shoot. What do you want from your family shoot? Would you prefer a relaxed shoot at home or an elaborate shoot on location with props? Once you come up with a vision for your shoot, you’ll also want to think about how feasible/realistic it s. Some ideas sound great in your head, but when it comes time to implement them, they can be overwhelming. Also, think about the logistics. Do you have kids? Will you have elderly family members with you for extended family photos? If you do, you probably don’t want to hike deep into the mountains (especially on hot Arizona days) with young kids or elderly family members.




2. Find the right photographer, and a good one. It’s important to hire a professional photographer that will capture your family and your vision how you want, and deliver a professional product that you’re excited to display for years to come. Also, make sure you get a photographer that can /and does shoot in the style that you want. Want light and airy looking photos? Don’t get a photographer that has a portfolio specializing in dark/moody portraits. Also…and this should probably be #1, but find a photographer who is experienced in shooting portraits (and families).


3. Pick a location (or two) for your photos. Talk with your photographer about locations that make sense. If you’re doing it outside of your house, do you have a favorite place, or somewhere that’s special to you? Have you seen photos from locations that you like? When in doubt, pick a park or other open, public outdoor area. If it isn’t a place you or your photographer visit frequently, try scouting the location ahead of time if you can.


4. Try to plan ahead and pick a date a couple of weeks in advance so you can prepare your appearance. Need a haircut? Or did you get a bad haircut? You have time to get one, or let it grow out. Don’t forget the details - Get a manicure. You’d be surprised how much your hands end up showing in photos.


5. Start gathering any props you need to bring your vision to life. This might be as elaborate or as simple as you want (chalkboard signs, hats, larger props like vehicles). Start planning on what you’ll need to make sure you’ll have it in time, and if not, what your next options will be.


6. Remember, kids will be kids. Kids can’t easily control how they feel/react, especially in front of strangers and in the spotlight (in front of the camera). Choose a time of day that they are typically in their happiest/best mood. It might be after nap time, or after they’ve had a full breakfast or lunch. As well all know, things happen when you don’t want them too, so if they’re going to have a meltdown or be uncooperative, it will naturally be the day of the photoshoot.


7. Make sure everyone else is happy and ready to go. This especially includes having a meal or snack. No one is happy when they’re hungry. It’s always a good idea to have snack ready (and even use them as treats/bribes for kids). Remember, your mood will show in your photos.



Family portraits in Apache Junction

8. It’s ok to coordinate your wardrobe, but don’t overdo it. While it may sound fun for everyone to match (and even be appropriate for certain settings/themes), there’s a difference between coordinating and matching exactly. Instead of matching, think about choosing colors that compliment each other (and that your family will be happy/feel comfortable in..again, see #6) such as pastels or similar shades of the same color. Each person doesn’t have to match exactly, and most of the time, it looks better if you don’t. Bonus: It’s never a bad idea to bring a backup, in case you get dirty or (drop ketchup on your shirt from your preshoot meal 😊 ), if children have an accident, or if you’ve planned out several different looks with your photographer. I also recommend having some color in your photos, as they’ll turn out much better than if you’re wearing muted/dark tones.


9. Dress for the weather. This one is pretty simple and self explanatory. Take a look at the upcoming weather forecast and try to plan your outfits accordingly. If it’ll be cooler in the fall, or an early morning shoot, you will want to dress more warmly than you would for a session in the summer. With Arizona weather this may not make much of an impact, but a long sleeve shirt/thing sweater to keep from freezing helps keep people comfortable and happy (see #6).


10. This all may sound stressful, but just relax, have fun and enjoy the shoot. I personally feel some of the best photos are the candid ones. These show your family’s personality, and uniqueness. I always like to do a few posed ones, but I like to include candids also. And, while shooting candids, try not to focus on them, and just have fun (and forget the photographer is there). You’ll get the most honest and real photos that way.


I hope this helps. Do you have any other suggestions, or questions? Drop them in the comments or send me an email.


Ready to book your family shoot? Let’s talk!