It may not be on all our minds this very moment, but sometime this year I bet there will be many of us who are preparing for family photos. The thought of family photos might be overwhelming for some-  from picking out the perfect, coordinating outfits to what happens if the youngest decides to have a fit mid – session, no one wants to take a risk only to have disappointing results. And really, now is the time to start planning so you can feel 100% prepared. To help avoid some of these pitfalls I’ve compiled a few ideas that will help the process go smoothly!

1. Create a Pinterest board to help you get a vision for you session! I encourage my clients to start thinking about their session WELL before it takes place.  Many times I create boards for inspiration months before any big project from sessions to redesigning our rooms.  And I revisit them often to hone in on how I’d like things to look. By revisiting your board you can decide if you liked an image or an idea in the moment, or if it is something that continues to resonate with what you are drawn too. I’ve found that this really helps me distinguish between what is really timeless in my life, and what is just a trend.

A family photo Pinterest board is a great way to get a feel for what you’d like your photos to look like. Choose images that you like whether it be for the colors, the posing, the lighting. Then go through and identify why you like those images.  This is a board that you can share with the photographer you choose and gives them an idea of the feel of the session that you’d like.  You likely won’t get replicas of the images you have chosen, but it will give you a direction that you’d like to aim for!

2. Know what you want to use your photos for. Often families will get their photos done simply because it is what they feel like they are “supposed to do”.  When I do an initial consult with clients I ask them what they are planning to use the photos for, this helps to clarify what clients should wear, what location would best fit and what kind of products they might be in the market for after the session.

Great occasions for a family session could be updating the prints for yours walls, a birthday, anniversary, graduation, yearly Christmas cards, family photo albums, family visiting from out of town. There are countless reasons why photos could be updated, ultimately it’s up to you and your family to decide that the time is right.

3. Choose a color pallet that fits your location or decor in your home. This is where I get most of my questions. Families can get overwhelmed by how to piece together outfits that they are confident about. In the end what really matters is that you are comfortable and able to be yourselves in your photos!

 *Shop your closet! Often you will have a piece that you love and feel confident in – start there! The look to see what others in the family have that will coordinate with that first outfit.  Once you have a majority of the “looks” pulled together you can then see what pieces might be missing and shop from there.

*Choosing a pallet that you feel comfortable in and that will allow for the personality to shine for each of your family members. Years ago it was very trendy for everyone to wear the same color shirt/pants etc however this trend is a bit outdated. Blending neutrals, patterns and adding a couple accessories (think hats, scarves, jackets) and layers can make for really dynamic photos!

*It’s also helpful to consider the setting that you’ll be having your photos.  If your family is meeting at a local beach in March choosing cute booties rather than stiletto heels would be a wiser choice.

I would recommend visiting to give you ideas of inspirational color pallets!

*I generally will encourage families to avoid season specific items or logo’s (sports or brands) on clothing for photos as that may “date” or pigeonhole your images. However there are occasions where it is appropriate, just be sure that you have a good reason for why you dress your family a certain way.

Curating timeless looks for your family and being thoughtful about how your family dresses for your photos can help you truly love the end result.  How you dress your family is really specific and personal for who you are as a family!

4. Location – Choose a location that your family will be comfortable in, or one that is meaningful to your family.  Often location doesn’t play as big of a role as people might think as far as background. But you do want to discuss lighting and time of day with your photographer. Often they can recommend locations that would be a good fit for your family.

5. Pick a photographer that fits the feel/style that you love!  This can make all the difference in the world with how your experience goes! Once you find a family photographer that you love it helps form a wonderful relationship that can last for years to come.

*Your family photography session should be an investment, not a bargain. It’s a wonderful bonus when it’s both, but there are times when you choose to invest in some thing that you are going to display in your home and hold onto for  years to come. Much like an heirloom, have something that you are proud to pass down to your children and to show off to people when they come to visit. Decide ahead of time what your budget will be and look for photographers that match that.

*When looking for a new photographer that you’ve never worked with before. Explore at least three different sessions they have posted on their blog/social media.  How are they honoring the families they have worked with in the past? And, if it’s important to you, do they have kids of their own so they understand that children can be unpredictable sometimes.  Don’t’ be afraid to ask your photographer how they will work with your kids if there is a meltdown mid session! By doing your research ahead of time you can relax a little when it comes time for photos rather than having the extra stress of not knowing what to expect.

*Get clarification on image delivery.  Every photographer has different ways they like to send their final product to clients.  It’s really helpful for both client and photographer to have expectations for image delivery clearly discussed before the session. This information should also be clearly outlined in a contract and invoice.


Doing even just a couple of these things can help you have a peace of mind as the big day approaches.  Photos are such a wonderful investment for you and your family and one that I hope you have fun creating. Once you find a family photographer that you love it helps form a wonderful relationship that can last for years to come!  

Devon is a children and family photographer from the great Pacific Northwest. You can see more of her work at Looking for trendy clothes for your kids to wear in their photo shoots? Check out our Kids Boutique for the coolest urban kids’ clothes around!


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