family photo at autumn

When it comes to family photos, it can often be a big hoohaa between who wants to have them done (or doesn’t want them!), who is going to play ball, and is it even worth all the stress of getting out the door in the first place. The simple answer to this is, YES. Yes, it is worth it and I am going to help you every step of the way.

To make your lives easier, I have curated 10 of my very best tips for your family photoshoot. These will help you on the run-up to the day. Therefore, you will be able to get everyone on board and excited for their pictures to be taken. So you can let out a big sigh of relief now 🙂

haddo house family portraits

1.Prep the kids

Ok so this is arguably, the most important step. Nail this and you are on to a winner.

Even weeks before your session, you can start getting the kids excited for their photoshoot. You really want the kids to feel like they are getting involved and play an important part in this. So ask them, what poses they’d like to do? Are they excited to get on Daddy’s shoulders? Do they want to have a race? Is feeding the ducks one of their favorite things? Let them put in some suggestions, and get them talking about the shoot!

Another fantastic tip is to talk about me! Yes, introduce them to my name, Danielle, show them a picture of me from my website. Let them see some pictures from my family section so they know what to expect. Sometimes, the unknown is scary so get them familiar with the idea of having pictures taken.

I’m a dab hand with kids, so I will be sure to introduce myself to them as soon as we meet on the day of your session. If they are particularly shy, just let me know in advance, I have a few tricks up my sleeve to bring them out of their shell!

family at the beach

2. Plan your outfits

Clothing is something not to be overlooked. The colours, textures, and comfort of your clothing all play such an important role in the finished look of your photos. This is something I am happy to help with. I even have a client wardrobe which can be used, if you wish!

My best advice is to go neutral, nothing screams out more than a bright red top, when everyone else is in jeans and a white T. I tend to suggest avoiding any patterns that are too bold, colours that may distract from the emotion in the image, and definitely leave the Spongebob t-shirts in the wardrobe for this.

Logos are something else to look out for. They can be distracting, but don’t overthink this too much, just anything large and obvious that you might not want on your walls forever, avoid it.

Keep it matching with similar tones, but don’t feel like you have to wear all white or go overkill with the matchy matchy. Thinking of the season is a good one, for example, warm and cosy tones for autumn.

Most importantly, feel comfortable and like YOU! Don’t throw on something just because it will look good in photos, make sure you are comfortable and feel like yourselves! 🙂

family picture at Haddo House

3. Bring extra layers

We live in Scotland. Need I say more. Whilst you may be booked in for a summer evening, we may also experience all four seasons during your session. So it is a great idea to have an extra layer for everyone!

We definitely want to avoid any tantrums from kids feeling chilly. Plus layering up looks super cute, and cozy and can give you something extra to utilize during your session. For example, an oversized scarf, wrapped around the kids having a cuddle. Cute!

twin boys posing with snowman

4. Choose an activity

Is there something you love to do as a family? Maybe something you know the kids will just LOVE? Some ideas might include bringing bubbles, bikes, skateboards, why not bring a picnic..?!

Having something to focus on, will put everyone at ease and create natural fun vibes, and moments for me to capture. If you’re stuck on ideas, have a chat with me beforehand and we can decide on something just right for you!

4. Location, location, location

If you are stuck on choosing, let me help you decide on a perfect location! Once we know, you can plan ahead on what you may need to bring.

You will definitely want a towel for the beach. You might want to consider a spare change of clothes and you might want to chuck the wellies in the boot just in case! I love splashing in puddles, and your shoot will be no exception. 🙂

family walking at haddo house

5. Bring the snack and incentives

Your little ones may need a short snack break, and that’s totally fine! I’d much rather keep tummy’s topped up and everyone happy than risk a wobbly! So pack some of their favorites.

Avoid anything messy, like chocolate, lollipops, or even sticky fruits. Great snacks are crackers, babybel and, crisps.

If you have to get your bribe on (don’t feel bad, there are bribes at 99% of family sessions!), then don’t be scared to use that incentive. Going for ice cream afterward, if they behave, is a popular one! Getting a puppy has to be my favourite. Can I have one too, please…?

mother cuddling her son

6. Be fed and well rested

Another very important part of prepping for your session. Not just for the kids. Make sure everyone is fed and well-rested beforehand.

I don’t think there is anything worse than hanger (this goes for the adults too!) or feeling tired and grumpy. So have lunch before and make sure the little’s have had a nap. Even if you have to swap around nap times and routine just for this one day, I promise it will all be worth it! So, SO worth it!!

couple laughing at autumn

7. Leave your squabbles at the door

We have all been there. Leaving the house, when the silliest of arguments arise. Likely over who left the refrigerator door open, where are the car keys, or which child used crayon on the wall?! Whatever it is, remind each other that you don’t want this to affect your photos. Leave the squabbles at the door, and get ready to enjoy your day.

If you really can’t get past whatever it is, let me know. Because, I can always tell if Dad’s not feeling it, or Mum’s not finished having words with the kids yet. So, if this is something you can’t see past today, I would rather we reschedule and wait until you are all feeling the love again. It is so important that we are capturing the love between your family and you don’t want to look back and be reminded of any negativity.

I am human too, and I totally get it. So don’t be scared, to be honest 🙂 I am here to make the best memories I possibly can for you!

mother and teenage daughter cuddling

8. You don’t have to smile at the camera

Music to everyone’s ears. Yes, that’s right, you don’t have to stand there and smile at my camera. In fact, I remind everyone at the start of everyone session, that very thing.

I am here to capture real moments and emotions. So I will give you plenty of cues and tips to keep you busy and to encourage those natural emotions. I will likely only ask you to look at the camera once for that perfect mantle-piece picture for Granny!

So if anyone was feeling reluctant about feeling awkward. Rest assured, I got you! None of that awkward stiff posing on my watch! 🙂

mum and baby laughing

9. Leave in plenty of time

Make sure you know where you are going before setting off and that you leave in plenty of time. I know kids can throw a wobbly getting their shoes on, or maybe Dad can’t find his jacket, or Mum is finishing her hair. So plan for these things and give yourself some leeway.

If you need directions, please ask for these beforehand and I will be happy to help you. It is also a good idea to make sure you have my contact number and let me know if things are running late. I don’t always have a signal though, so bear this in mind 🙂

I’m usually at your chosen location about 15 minutes before you are due to arrive. Whilst I tend not to book shoots back to back, sometimes other appointments may have to be taken into consideration and if you arrive late it could eat into your session time.

Mum and daughter spinning

10. Enjoy yourselves!

Ok, definitely THE most important thing!!

Just relax, have fun and enjoy the moment! We are not here to create “picture-perfect” images with hair all in place, wearing crisp-ironed shirts. We are here to capture love, fun, emotion, and most of all connection!

So, let the kids run free, (maybe save the puddle splashing until the end though!), walk hand in hand, communicate with each other and just HAVE FUN! 😀

Thanks so much for reading, I hope I have helped with a little planning for your session!

Or, why not check out – “What happens at a newborn session” HERE.

Photo of Danielle Leslie at sunset
Image credit to Beth Hopkins

Much loves!

Danielle x


March 26, 2021

family cuddling in front of spring trees

My Top 11 Family Photoshoot Tips

Danielle Leslie


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