How to Prepare for your Family Photoshoot


Get the kids excited about the shoot


  • When you first tell them about your family picture plans, act excited like it’s going to be SO much fun! Often attitude is contagious.


  • Prepare the child for the session by letting them know that a friend will be taking some photos of them, it’s best not to surprise them


  • Kids are big part of your family and most likely the reason you want these photos so involve them in the entire experience. If they want to bring their stuffy or their cape along to the session, let them. These are details that reflect their personality and mark this time in their life; you want those captured.


  • Get them excited about the shoot far in advance. Plan a surprise or a special treat like ice cream or mini golf after the shoot, so that they look forward to the entire day. You don’t want your kids to think of the photo shoot as something scary, or worse, a chore.

Make an effort and plan


  • You are paying good money for these photos so don’t look as though you have just come home from the school run in the rain! You don’t have to look like you are off to the races either, but look your best!


  • Moms are often rushing around before a photo shoot, making sure that their family is dressed and ready. I always encourage mothers to have their hair and makeup professionally done.  This will prepare mom for her pictures and when mom is feeling pretty and confident, this will reflect on the rest of the family as well. 


  • Plan haircuts and other appointments (i.e. makeup, nails, if applicable) in advance so that your family can show up looking their very best. Don’t leave getting yourself ready for the last minute!



  • Don’t show up to a photo shoot on an empty stomach. I meet many families who come to a photo session with dinner scheduled at the end.  If this is your plan, be sure to give everyone a healthy snack before the photo shoot.
Prepare for your Family Photoshoot

Involve the kids in the planning


  • Involve the kids in the process from the beginning! If they get to help pick what they’re going to wear, or what props they can bring, they’ll feel included and be more likely to cooperate.

Get your spouse invested in the process


  • Sometimes the kids aren’t the only ones that drag their heels for family pictures. Plan ahead so that he knows it’s coming and has time to mentally prepare for it.No one likes being surprised with something they don’t love.


  • Budget for it to avoid the money stress.


  • Let him know WHY it’s important to you. If he knows it’s about preserving memories for you, and not just for a cute Christmas card, he’s more likely to value it too.


  • Give him a say in it! Most people don’t like to be told what to wear and how to sit and stand and when to do it.  So ask for his opinion and value it.  (Maybe you could even make a little shopping date and pick out new outfits together.)


  • Compromise!Find out what is most important to each of you and make it happen.


  • Just like the kids – bribe! Oops, I mean … reward!  If he’s willing to do this just for you, then let him know you appreciate it.

Get Ready Early


  • Leave plenty of time for showers, baths, dressing, and grooming. When a family shows up to a family photo session rushed and disorganized, it sets the tone for a rushed and disorganized session. Give yourself extra time so that you are ready before it’s time to head out that door.


  • Be on time or come early. This will help ensure you have a few minutes for your child to get comfortable with your photographer. These few short moments are more important than you realise. This is helpful for adults as well. It’s just as important for you to have some time to connect with & get to know your photographer before jumping in front of their lens.


  • Try on your clothing a week in advance, and take a photo together at home to make sure the outfits all look good together. Then you still have plenty of time to find something else if an element doesn’t work.

Give them something to do!


  • Try to get your family to feel like they are in their own backyards by giving them accessories close to their hobbies and lifestyle. For example, a family who liked playing chess and reading books can bring a chess board and their favourite book. While these might sound very ordinary, the idea behind it is to bring out the uniqueness of every family who plays those games in their own ways.

Final Advice


  • Capturing a beautiful, memorable family portrait starts with creating a beautiful and memorable moment! So prepare yourself and your family for a happy gathering, and the photographer’s job will simply be to capture the magic that’s already there.
Prepare for your Family Photoshoot in Sydney


Dress accordingly. Photos aren’t something we normally have done once a month on a professional level…so make sure you’re adequately prepared for this special event. Buy a new outfit, do some extra styling with your childs hair, or incorporate fun props like hats or scarves.


If possible go shopping for a new outfit for the shoot!! Wearing a new outfit first of all makes everyone feel good. And if you feel good, you will look good! It also has not been through the washing machine a million times and will look new and crisp.


Use of neutral colour palette for family photo session

Timeless, comfortable and attractive clothing choices

For a photo that stands the test of time, opt for clothes that are classic rather than super trendy. Try to avoid trendy patterns and styles that might be outdated in a year.


When picking out your clothes for the session, err on the side of comfort. You want to be confident in your clothing styles, but choose something flattering and timeless that will make you want to keep that family portrait up for years to come.


What do your dream family photos look like?  If they are soft and elegant?  Choose neutral colours with soft, flowing fabrics…. think creams, very soft pastels, oatmeal, light browns, tans, greys, and slate blues.  Want to showcase the fun and spunky side of your family?

Coordinate rather than match


Coordinate your wardrobe, but not too much. There is a fine line between coordinating and too matchy matchy. Selecting complimentary patterns, or colours (think pastels or varying shades of the same colour) are a great way to go. You do not have to match. In fact, it looks better when you don’t.


Layering clothing is a great idea. It adds interest and makes the photo more visually interesting. So think about adding a sweater to a plain top, an interesting piece of jewellery, a scarf, a hat, a funky belt, or some interesting shoes! All great ideas!


Bring a change of clothes if you want more than one look, or in case you get muddy, have a potty accident, etc.


I encourage you to lay out all of the family’s chosen outfits on the floor beforehand to ensure they all go together



  • Steer clear of the traditional matching jeans and white shirts look which can look dated. I think that the portraits of families in uniforms of matching t-shirts and denim jeans looks so dated. It also erases any individual personality from the members of the family who are pictured.



  • Avoid wearing are any clothing with large logos, motifs, characters, or graphics. These graphics, particularly logos and well known characters can really detract from the focal point – your lovely faces.


  • I think that people should avoid any overly branded clothing and outfits that are too casual. I want to see people looking comfortable in their portraits, but I also want to see them looking like the best versions of themselves. Tracksuits are hardly ever a good idea as wardrobe for a professional portrait.


  • Random collection of colours does not usual work. Choose coordinating colours (but not matchy, matchy). To coordinate clothing look below in the colour advice section.



  • Be careful of bright green, it is difficult to match and can cause a green cast to the skin colour


  • Avoid clashing patterns but don’t be afraid to be bold.


  • Patterns and Prints – Avoid patterns where the lines are very close to one another as this can cause a distortion in the camera caused moiré.


  • Avoid too many patterns amongst family members



  • Be careful with floral patterns as they can be difficult to match with other members of the family. They are usual ok if no other member of the family is wearing a clothing with a pattern on it.


  • One thing to keep in mind with the kids is to make sure they are comfortable!!! If they are uncomfortable, they don’t hide it as well as we do when our feet are killing us from the heels we have on! Kids show their emotions on their face and the last thing we want is frowny faces!


Complimentary Colours

  • The colour wheel can be used to find complementary colour schemes. Complementary colours are those opposite one another on the colour wheel.


  • Complementary colours create the most amount of colour contrast in a scene and therefore make you stand out more dramatically than other colour schemes. 


  • You can also use the colour wheel to see what outfits will best stand out  against the intended background in your shoot location.


  • eg. We have decided to do a shoot by the ocean. The ocean is predominately blue and its complementary colour is orange. An orange (or yellow or red) dress would therefore pop dramatically in an image against a blue ocean or blue sky.


  • eg. We have decided to do a shoot in a forest. The forest is predominately green and its complementary colour is red. A red dress would then create the most dramtic colour pop against a green forest, vineyard, or countryside.


  • Alternatively, you can use the colour wheel to find colours that will work with one another. These are usually those colours next to each other on the colour wheel.


Accent Colours


  • Pick a single colour tone to each member of the family to wear. This use of a single colour can be as small as adding a red hair band to a girl’s ponytail, or as large as a father wearing a similar colour shirt as his daughter’s hair band. Utilise the same or similar colour throughout the family. The acts to subconsciously strengthen their bond with the photo.


  • Accessories, such as scarves, necklaces, over shirts, hairpieces, shoes, and hats are just a few of the ways to add an accent colour to a family member.


Primary colours


  • Red, blue, and yellow. Primary colours are great. Even mixing 2 of the 3 primary colours together makes for a great colour combination.


  • Add neutral colours in between the primary colours for good effect.


Pastel or Neutral Colours

Neutral colours include: white, cream, charcoal, black, tan, grey, and brown. They mix well together both on an individual and throughout a family.

Neutral and pastel colours are a great combination.

Neutral colours with a primary colour used in  different ways throughout the family can make great family colour combination. eg. the photo below (bottom right photo) shows the neutral colours white and grey mixed with the primary colour blue to good effect.





  • Everybody in the family wearing jeans is ok as long as you are not wearing the same colour shirts and even better if some of the jeans are slightly different in colour


  • Don’t squeeze into those skinny jeans either that might make you feel great (even if you can’t breathe) because a muffin top is definitely not flattering in photos! The more comfortable you are the more it will show in the photographs.



  • Shirts with collars are fantastic for framing the face. If you are wearing a button up shirt, be sure that the buttons don’t pucker.



  • If you are wearing a sheer top, think about your clothing underneath, particularly if your photographer is going to use additional lighting.


  • Think about clothing that might slip or sit off the shoulder – some photographers will charge you for cloning your bra strap you didn’t want to see from your favourite image!



  • Make sure your shoes are neat and go with your outfit.


  • They don’t have to be top shelf, but ensure that they are clean and in good appearance. Nothing can ruin a shot faster than ratty sneakers or a giant necklace that takes away from the subject’s face.



  • Scarves are great for adding colour and interest, as are statement necklaces or other pieces of jewellery.


  • Adding fun accessories like headbands, hats, etc. can add a modern twist to your images.


  • When investing in the services of a professional photographer and the expense of high quality prints, albums or wall art, it is a good idea to give consideration to all the details as these images will be family treasures and gazed upon for many years.



  • Bra straps won’t do anything to help your outfit look its best. Be sure you bring a set of bras and strap-adjusting accessories to work with any outfit you want to shoot in to keep those straps well-hidden.



  • If you iron, iron the night before and then hang the clothes for your shoot.


  • If you’re wearing something that wrinkles easily, don’t wear it in the car on the way to the shoot – just change at the location.


Make Up


  • A subtle application of make-up can really soften your skin and accent your facial features. But make sure you know what you’re doing, and make sure it matches your skin tone, or your face may look orange compared to the rest of your body.


  • If you wear foundation, ensure that the coverage is even and there are no lines around your neck.



  • If you are a hair up person, make sure you choose a style suitable for the day – you don’t want to constantly be fighting the wind blowing stray hairs over your face.


  • If we will be shooting outdoors, be ready to put your hair up and make it look nice in case of a windy day. Bring bobby pins, hair clips, headbands or any other favourite accessories.


  • If you’re getting a hair cut for your shoot, do so about two weeks beforehand, just in case it goes wrong – you just never know. For men, a fresh cut a couple of days before the shoot is fine.


  • Mothers, consider having have your hair professionally done. Picture day is not just another day…it’s something to get dolled up for!

Facial hair


  • Men, be freshly shaved with a new razor, shaving cream and a moisturizing after-shave lotion to avoid bumps and redness.


  • Trim up your board, sideburns, moustache or goatee, especially looking for wiry stray hairs.


  • Ladies, even if you have some light facial hair (particularly around your lip or chin), indulge in a waxing in advance of your shoot – even barely-there light facial hair will be noticeable in your photos.


  • Men and women both, wax or pluck and clean up those eyebrows.



  • If people wouldn’t recognise you without glasses, you want to wear glasses in your shoot – however, the glare on glasses can detract from your eyes in photos.


  • Consider removing the lenses from your frames for your shoot (don’t worry, it’s what Hollywood does to avoid glare in movies), or ask your eye doctor to loan you a pair of similar frames.

Red eyes


  • Visine is your friend. Not getting intoxicated the night before your shoot helps, too.



  • You will probably wipe or lick your lips during your shoot, so bring fresh lip gloss or lipstick to do touch-up.


  • Use lip balm for a few days in advance of your shoot to make your smoochers look their best.



  • If you want to brighten your smile, start your treatments at least two weeks before your shoot.


  • Don’t worry too much about teeth colour as Photoshop whitening of teeth is very easy.



  • Don’t cake on a lot of make-up to try to hide blemishes – it’s almost always easier to Photoshop away pimples than to clean up overdone make-up.



  • Dry skin can really detract from a great photo shoot. Both men and women should utilise the advice to prepare for the shoot.


  • Start moisturising nightly a week in advance of your shoot. When you get out of the shower, dry off until lightly damp, and slather on moisturiser. Focus on your arms, shoulders, neck, face, hands, anywhere you’ll be exposed to the camera. This includes your legs if you’re shooting in shorts or a skirt.


  • ProTip: For dry skin on your face, especially around your nose, use a sugar scrub. Mix a cup of sugar with about a quarter cup of olive oil, or just until it looks like wet sand. Scrub your face with it anywhere you have flaky skin, wash it off, then wash with soap to remove the oil. The sugar paste shouldn’t be oily, just wet enough to moisten the sugar.


  • Ensure to use a facial moisturiser for your face, not a thick body moisturiser, or you could break out.



  • A fresh coat of nail polish will make a world of difference in your photo shoot. Pick a neutral colour that won’t distract in your shoot or clash with your outfits.


  • Your photo shoot is a great excuse for a fresh manicure, but if you can’t go to the salon, make sure your nails look tidy and clean, including the cuticles.



  • If your shoot is booked for Saturday, don’t go to the beach on Friday. If you plan to tan before your shoot, do so at least a week beforehand and don’t get burned. Be mindful of clothing tan lines, sunglass tan lines, hat tan lines, etc.


  • If you go for the spray tan, that’s absolutely fine, but just don’t overdo it or you will appear too orange or muddy looking.



  • Blanket/s


  • Baby wipes


  • Wash cloth to clean away flaky skin and eye boogers


  • Clean and Healthy snacks – carrot and celery sticks, cheese, crackers (No messy food – such as chocolate)


  • Water or other drinks that don’t stain the inside of your mouth


  • Treats to bride children


  • Hair brush


  • Makeup


  • Backup clothing – a second outfit or layers. Either for a second look or in case clothing gets stained or wet during the shoot


  • Activity to do as a family – soccer ball, scooters, wagons, bikes, chess board, bubbles, or a musical instrument


  • Bring silly props – think fake mustaches, funky glasses, balloons or even some bubble gum for a bubble blowing contest.


  • Props that will help your family interact for natural, candid photos. So bring along a book to read to the baby, a game to lay out and play with the kids, or a picnic to enjoy together.


  • Children to bring their favourite toy, stuffed animal, or blanket. For young children bring toys that make noise such as rattles or squeakers to help grab their attention.


  • Most of all, bring your patience!!!!!




  • Letting go of expectations will take a little bit of the pressure off and help everyone to relax and just enjoy the time together as a family. Be realistic , the whole point of the session is to capture your family. You won’t look like the family in the department store adverts because they are not real!


  • The perfect family photo may not necessarily be the one you envision. Open your mind, relax, have fun with it & the photos will reflect a lovely memory of time spent together. If you are relaxed, your children will be too.

Leave the Cheese at home


  • Please, parents… leave the “cheese” at home. So many times I have found parents who stand behind the photographer and scream, “Say cheese to the lady kids!”


  • Yelling and demanding young children to look at the camera to smile will only stress your children out (not to mention the photographer) and will result in strained, unnatural and often unflattering photographs.


  • Step back, and allow the photographer to naturally interact and talk with your children.This will result in natural, gorgeous smiles.  Help the photographer capture the true essence of your child’s personality by talking with and coaxing out those smiles naturally and easily.

Always be touching


  • Always touching: be sure that your always touching someone. Whether it’s a hug or snuggle, or just a tender hand on the shoulder. Make contact with your family. This shows connections and love.


  • Don’t be afraid to pick up your children and toss them in the air!), tickle them or give them relentless kisses! Husbands give your wife a sweet kiss on the check.  Wives tell your husband how much you love him and appreciate him for being there for your family. 


  • Have fun. Cuddle. Giggle. Joke. Embrace. Kiss.  Snuggle.  Play.  Give them a Squeeze. Doing these things will allow the photographer to capture the emotion and true beauty of your family.  Show your photographer who you really are, so that she has the opportunity to capture your family as they are in the moment.

Let’s keep them busy


  • My most successful family sessions have incorporated an activity that the family loves to do together. Keep them busy. Let’s plan something to do at your session. This gives you something to do with your hands and feet, engages the little ones, and brings an authentic smile to your face. 


  • Take a walk to their favourite park, build a sand castle, play tag or sing songs. Do you love to read together?  Bring some books.  Is your favourite dessert ice cream?  Bring some ice cream bars or drumsticks to your session. Love to play board games or cards?  Plan to play a round of Uno or Monopoly during your family photo session. 



  • Other ideas include: football, piggy back rides, races, bike riding, hiking, singing, picnics, the ideas are endless. When families are engaged in doing something that they love together, the photographer will have the opportunity to take some beautiful and authentic photographs.

Keep it light hearted


  • Remember to be silly, play, laugh and let go. Make your family photo session a fun event, something to look forward to. Bring silly props – think fake mustaches, funky glasses, balloons or even some bubble gum for a bubble blowing contest.


  • Not only do they look cute in photos, props also serve a very useful purpose. They keep little hands busy, fill in time while siblings are being photographed and help to draw out smiles and genuine interactions.


  • Whatever you can do to ensure that your photo session is an event to anticipated, not dreaded is going to help make it fun and will even help set the stage for next years photos!


  • Your kids will enjoy themselves so much more during your session if you goof around with them and tickle them rather than telling them to behave or to sit down.

Don’t Stress


  • Stop worrying about what the kids are doing and just keep a happy face. We all know the saying misery loves company. Well I think happiness also loves company. If you can stay positive and playful, chances are much greater that your children will relax and I will get a chance to see their awesome personalities.


  • Come to terms with the fact that things might not go “picture perfect”. Children’s emotions can be a wild card at any session. Embrace the fact that someone might cry, fall, get dirty or not sit still. This is what makes them, them.


  • I say embrace the crazy. Hug out the cries, tickle the tantrums, and chase hyper wild children that can’t stay still.


  • We’re focusing on moments, so a shy kiddo can get extra snuggles and a wildling one can have extra run time. As cliché as it sounds, they are only little once and I promise that looking back on personalities over perfection will be worth it in the end

Bribes & motivation


  • Provide incentive for your little ones to cooperate! Kids generally have a maximum cooperation time of about twenty minutes depending on age. You can attempt to extend it by providing things they aren’t given every day…whether it be happy meals, treats, cash or the promise of ice cream or a small toy at the end of your session.


  • Providing little perks along the way like snacks or treats is helpful in keeping kids motivated.

Listen to the expert


  • Listen to Your Photographer. This is especially true for families with small children. Often, photographers have methods of calming children and getting them to participate in the family shoot without a fight. 


  • Let your photographer call the shots and direct your little ones. Your job as a parent & subject is to look at the camera and be ready for the moment the photographer has your little one smiling. Part of their ability to connect with your child comes from conversing with them…so be sure to allow your little ones to answer questions and interact during your session.

Be patient and enjoy the session


  • With kids and family portraits it is a hurry up and wait game. Hurry up and get the shot but a lot of waiting for that perfect shot. So patience is key. If you seem stressed, the kids are going to pick up on that.


  • This is really the most important part about the photo sessions. Let loose a little bit because a little fun and laughter really brings out your personalities and makes for some awesome pictures.


  • But most of all…have fun! Natural smiles are a result of a good time. Enjoy the time spent capturing the memories and smiles of your family! The photos resulting are what you will look back on and enjoy.


  • Ultimately, I want REAL smiles. I want you to enjoy this experience as much as I enjoy capturing it. It’s ok to be a bit nervous. I have to admit that I don’t get in front of the camera much myself! But I can guarantee you that you will not regret having these memories to cherish and your children will eventually thank you for it.


  • So relax, goof-off a bit and let yourself have a good time!

Interested in your own Family Photography session with me? Fill out the contact form and I’ll get in touch soon!SaveSave