When I was little, nothing caused panic more in my family than an upcoming family photo session. It seemed to make us all go bonkers. So much stress over what to wear, how long it would take, if we were going to leave the house on time, etc.

Now that I’m a little bit more grown up the stress is all gone. I freaking love family photo sessions. These sessions are EVERYTHING to me. More so than your wedding photos, these are the photos you’re most likely to display around the house and look at time and time again.

When working with Edmonton and Alberta families to plan their session, I guide you through each of these five ways to ace your family photos.

1. Start Your Session With a Positive Mindset

If you’re worried about any of the following things before your session even starts, your kiddos are going to sense it: “they’re not going to listen,” “it’s going to take forever,” “we’re going to be late, I just know it!”

Your kids will know if you’re going into a session thinking that it’s going to be a disaster from the start. My top recommendation to any family planning their photo session, start with a positive mindset. Approaching your session as a fun family activity with your kids, not something to dread, will totally change the energy of your session. It’ll show through in your photos.

2. No “Back Seat Directing,” Let Your Photographer Do The Work

Family photos are an investment, I get that. You want these portrait to turn out perfect. I don’t know any family that is truly “perfect,” so let’s embrace the imperfections, capture your family as they are in the moment. Resisting the urge to tell your children to smile can be tough.

It’s important to let myself, the photographer, direct the portrait session. I have experience with photographing children and I’ll be able to direct them. I have ways of bringing out their true smiles. What doesn’t work, is backseat directing from parents over my shoulder. You’re more than welcome to be on hand, but for me to do my work best, you’ll need to let me do the talking.

3. Working Your Wardrobe

There are so many ways to look put together as a family without being too “matchy matchy.” Sticking to a neutral palette is the key to timeless photos. My favourite example of rocking a palette for family photos is this beige and blue combo for a garden inspired session.

Comfort is always going to be key. Can you easily move around and sit in your outfit? Try on your outfits a week or two before your session to make sure there aren’t any unhappy surprises or wardrobe malfunctions.

4. If you didn’t love your last photo experience, let your photographer know the “why” ahead of time.

I’m sure that not every photography experience in your life has been a great one. If you had a particularly bad photography experience in your youth, when you were in a wedding party, or at the last family reunion, let your family photographer know in advance! We’ll do our best to make sure we avoid anything that could replicate that bad experience.

Things your family photographer loves to know ahead of time:

When was the last time you had portraits done?

What did you love/not love about your last photo experience?

What are you most nervous about going into your session?

Do you have a favourite “side” let us know!

5. Choose an activity for your family to enjoy!

Inviting me into your home is such a treat. I get to see the real version of your family and capture everything as is. To help you relax with me in your home, choose an activity for your family to enjoy.

The best activities for family photos:

Baking – the huge mess in the kitchen makes for fun candid images

Story Time with the Kiddos – children’s books make the best distractions

Painting – plan a painting party with simple supplies from the craft store

Taking the Bikes Out For a Spin – a great way to spend time outside

The best part of choosing an activity? It tricks your brain into mostly forgetting that you’re having your photo taken.

Want more? Subscribe to Janelle’s mailing list.
Hi, my name is Janelle, I’m a photographer from Edmonton Alberta. I’m all about three things: celebration, connection and client education. My style is relaxed and romantic. I love intimate weddings, the kind where I get to know your family and friends. I thrive when meeting new people. My favourite moment of every wedding is right after the ceremony. This is when your friends and family smother or possibly crush you with either love or cheerful embrace. Bring on the epic dance parties.

  I value connection and celebration of moments over a big production.