Photo sessions can be stressful for many people. The idea that you have to look your best, make your kids smile for an hour, and stand in awkward poses can make sessions unpleasant for everyone. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some suggestions to make your photo session go smoothly and have fun at the same time.


Don’t worry about making everyone match perfectly. Trying to find the exact same shade of a color for everyone may be exhausting. Simply aim to get everyone’s clothing in the same color family and style. For instance- jewel tones or pastels and casual or all dressed up.

Bold patterns can be cute but can also be distracting. I generally suggest that people stay away from bold patterns, logos, and clothing with writing. Solid colors or subtle patterns are great for drawing attention to the face.

If you plan on dressing up and we are shooting in the desert or other natural area, you may want to bring some sneakers to walk to the location and then change into your dressier shoes.

If this is a maternity shoot- I think flowing dresses look beautiful on pregnant mothers but belly-fitting t-shirts and jeans are also super cute. I think the most important thing here is that you feel good about what you’re wearing and that you’re comfortable in it.

If you’re having trouble with color selections I have a board on Pinterest full of color families that I think photograph beautifully.

Color Palettes for Photo Shoots


If this is a family session, timing your appt. for after kids have had their nap and a snack may help them to have fun and enjoy the session. Also, don’t forget about yourself. Get some rest and feed yourself too. 🙂 This is especially important for pregnant mamas. Finally, give yourself plenty of time to get ready and get to the shoot location without feeling stressed and rushed.

Have fun!

I promise you that you will love your photos so much more if you have fun with each other during the session. Some of my favorite shots are of couples and families hugging, talking, and laughing with one another. Posed shots are great and I do plenty of those but I love candid shots of fun or intimate moments as well.

Feel free to come with your own ideas for shots and poses as well. Also, if there is something that is important to you or that you all love as a family, bring that too! For example, some kids have a favorite stuffed animal so getting a photo of them holding it would be a fun memory.

A word to the men

Men are sometimes uncomfortable with photo sessions but I encourage you to relax and have fun with your family. Smile, play, kiss your wife (girlfriend/fiancé) on the cheek, joke with the kids, and just be yourself. This is all about capturing fun memories that you will look back on and cherish forever. There is no pressure for perfection.

Say cheese!

Most photographers love it when parents help kids to feel comfortable and cooperate during sessions. Something to keep in mind though- I’ve found that telling kids to say cheese and trying to force them to smile either doesn’t work or creates stiff, fake smiles. Usually kids just relax naturally after we’ve been shooting for a little while and I try to incorporate some playfulness in sessions (little games, bubbles, etc…) to put them at ease. So, parents, don’t feel any pressure to make the kids smile. Happy parents, a playful photographer, and some fun will probably bring out those beautiful smiles naturally.

But even if they don’t smile, sweet shy photos are adorable too.