Family Session [Tips]

by amandamaephotos

To be completely honest with you guys, family sessions used to scare the nerve right outta me. Avoiding them was all I wanted to do. It was so discouraging, I would go into a shoot with high expectations, and come out disappointed. Then, I changed the way I thought. Why not just use my love for candid photography and really incorporate that into the session? Well, I think it worked. I love my family sessions now and gather so much inspiration from them.

So, this is for you: Families getting ready to head to a session. Photographers who are scared like I was (ok sometimes still am 🙂 ). Or for you, yeah you who are just reading my blog for the heck of it. I like you for that.

Here are a few helpful hints and tips that I hope can give you some new ideas and inspiration.

Helpful Hints:
– Relax. Parents most of all. You have children and they don’t always listen. But it’s ok! Just go with the flow.
– Parents, you look at the camera, don’t worry about your kids. That’s why we make funny faces. So many times the children are looking at the camera but the parents aren’t. Trust me, it looks much cuter having the kids looking off into space than the parents making a funny face because they are trying to get their youngsters to look.
-Bring a fun snack or candy and reward them with it at the end of the shoot. ( I need to start doing this ) 🙂
– Keep it short or be super entertaining. Children have short attention spans when a camera is involved. If things start to slow down or one pose is taking too long, move on to the the next.


Go for the candid. Set up a pose aka give them a little direction and let them do the rest. Then go to town capturing adorable moments like this…

..and this. They are my favorite. No one is looking at the camera, but you don’t even notice because you are distracted by how special the moment is.

Let them be silly. We start off with a nice, everyone-look-at-the-camera-shot and then…tickle monster. I mean, just look at Silas’ (the littlest one) face in the last one. Precious. Fun. Out of the ordinary? Of course not, its them.

Hug it out. Who doesn’t adore a little brotherly love? Hint: be quick, the little brother may not always enjoy it as much as we do. 😉

Be Sneaky. Some little ones are a little camera shy. Find an interesting object, I was lucky enough to have a sweet bike, and hid behind it. When they are least expecting it, snatch a few shots. Or, make it a game of hide-and-go-seek or peek-a-boo. They love that and smiles magically appear. We like those.

This is a successful peek-a-boo photo from last year. No smile, but love the look.

How high can you jump. Make everything a game. Kids love it. Show them how high you can jump and then ask them to show you. Hint: Be fast. Drink coffee, a coke, or any other form of caffeine beforehand. You have a very small attention span window to work with. You will need the energy. 🙂

Let them show you their skillzz. Like Quentin for instance. He has mad Tai Chi skills. 🙂

How low can YOU go. No really. Go low. Lay down if you have to. I think I was sprawled out on my stomach for this one. Kids like when you get on their level.

Or for this one, I just crouched down low and set my camera on the ground. In love with these kinds of shots.

Put dad to work. The classic throw-your-child-in-the-air-shot. Guaranteed smile or fun faces. That is unless your child has a fear of heights. Then it is just disastrous. SideNote: I don’t think I’ve asked one dad to throw their child in the air yet. Always their idea. I forget otherwise. #memoryloss

Where is the lens Fairy. Have them look for their reflection in your lens and pretend it is a lens fairy. Their expressions are priceless. I’m telling you. SideNote: This was not my idea. I read of a photographer doing it somewhere. If I remembered I would be giving them full credit. Forgive me whoever you are out there who is not getting the proper credit! #memoryloss #again

Give them something to do. I LOVE this series of shots of Charlie. The last one always makes me laugh right out loud every time. This was his end of the session treat. Good idea Steph!

For goodness sake, let them be THEM. You can’t get much cuter than letting them be them. Just make sure you’re there to capture the sweet and silly moments.

Be their friend. This picture is so cute to me. We were off exploring together and this was him telling me to come with him. Makes me smile. Lots.

Greatest accomplishment is when they hug me or curl up in my lap like Reese did by the end of the session. 🙂

End on a positive note. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want the children I work with to have a traumatic experience getting photos taken. Whether my families ever come back to me or not, I don’t want to stick the next photographer with a camera fearing child. End the session with a positive note. Even when you keep the session short, the younger ones always tend to have had enough after the first 30 minutes. If they start getting cranky that’s a sure sign you need to call it a day. Sad faces don’t look as cute in pictures. Get the family to do something fun. This may be where throwing them up in the air, running at the camera or swinging them can come in handy. Disclaimer: this isn’t my best action shot, but just look at his face! Just a few minutes before be was totally done having his picture taken. Can you believe it?

Now families, go out and have your pictures taken! They are only young once. Cameras tend to do a good job capturing those memories. Photographers, don’t be afraid of those little ones anymore. They really are fantastic. And you, thank you for making it to the end of my post.

Love to you all