Preparing for a Family Photography Session in Your Home
What to expect
Planning a photography session in your home can feel stressful—I get it! I have two kids and feel like I’m constantly living with a pile of dirty dishes and clothes that need to be washed but I’m here to tell you that you do not need to stress! Your house doesn’t need to be spotless. It doesn’t need to be immaculately decorated and it certainly doesn’t need to be ‘styled’ to look like something out of an Architectural Digest issue. Your home needs to reflect who you are—quirks and all. Below I’ll give some simple and quick tips for preparing your home for our session together but first I want to give you an idea of what our time together will look like.
We’ll chat beforehand about the vibe you are going for with your session. 99% of the session will be prompted documentary, this is where I guide you and then let things unfold to capture authentic moments and emotion. The other 1% will be spent capturing a few traditional ‘family portraits’, the look at the camera and smile type, because I think there is value in capturing your full self looking into the camera. I always aim for real smiles, no ‘say cheese’ happening on my watch.
I’ll arrive at our predetermined session time and ask that everyone in the family is ready to go! I know how fast mornings can fly by, especially with young kiddos, so I suggest doing as much as you can the day before so that the morning feels a bit less hectic. I suggest having all outfits laid out and ready to be put on and to do your hair (if applicable) the night before if possible. The less to do in the morning—the better!
Once I come in, I’ll spend 10-15 minutes with my camera down, chatting and getting your family comfortable with me. I’ll peruse the rooms in your home to assess the best light and make any suggestions if things need to be moved or rearranged. This time is crucial for kiddos to warm up! I like to get on their level and let them know that I’m fun and ready to play before I start taking any photographs of them. I’ll often ask them to show me their rooms or their favorite books just to get them excited about having me around. Once I have an idea of where I want to start we’ll begin! I’m super chatty and it feels like we’re just hanging out, it’s all very casual and won’t feel at all like you’re performing or on the spot—I promise! We’ll spend an hour and half (ish) seeing where things take us and then I’ll be on my way!
To Do-the week before
Fill out the questionnaire
I’ll send over a few questions to get to know you and your family a bit better. Try to have it back to me at least a few days before your session so that I can send over any questions or ideas I may have in regards to your answers!
See the light
Turn off all of the lights in your bedroom, living room, kitchen and kids rooms and take some snapshots with your phone. Most likely our session will start between 10AM and 11AM so it’s ideal to do this around that time. Take note of which rooms appear the brightest and most evenly lit and which rooms seem pretty dark. Make sure that you have the lights turned off! We’ll shoot without artificial lighting so it’s important to see the spaces without them.
Tidy only where you need to
Listen, I’m a mom with two kids and a partner who works from home. Our house is a hot mess at all times. I don’t expect you to have a perfectly neat home and the last thing I want you to do is remove what makes your space uniquely yours so this is a good time to prioritize and stop stressing. Focus on 2-3 rooms which have the best light. I usually like to shoot in the living room and/or primary bedroom depending on which is brightest so it’s a good idea to start there. What do I mean by tidy? You by no means need to remove everything from all the surfaces but we do want to get rid of any distractions so I advise moving things like lotions, chargers, digital clocks, water bottles, iPads—anything that is not necessarily part of the story of your family. I’ll also help rearrange and direct when I arrive but it is helpful to have things in order beforehand so that I’m not spending our valuable time together tossing dirty tissues ; )
Have your outfits laid out and ready to go
See this post on styling for some direction on how to choose the right clothing for a photography session.
Share any ideas with me beforehand
If you have any ideas for specific activities or neighborhood destinations you’d like to visit, please share that with me ahead of time so that we can collaborate on making your vision come to life.
To do-the day of
Get your jam on
Choose a playlist with songs your kids love and have it playing before I arrive, this helps the kiddos loosen up and get comfortable (plus dancing makes for super fun photographs).
Have bribes ready
Even the most photogenic of kids can need a little motivation. Promise a fun activity or treat to your kiddos that they can have AFTER the session is over. This is really important! You don’t want to be giving them candy or screen time mid-session, this will always lead to them wanting more rather than going back to taking photographs.
Let me take the lead
There can be times during a session when you can feel really frustrated that your kids aren’t doing what you want them to do but I have to ask you, please do not discipline them or show that frustration during the session! This is where positive reinforcement will go a long way. Let me take the lead, if I can see that a kiddo really does not want to do something, I’ll steer us in a different direction. Do not force them and definitely don’t yell or get stern, it can really turn a session South and make kids even less likely to cooperate.
Do a dance in the mirror! Rock out to your favorite song! Get excited! Remember that these memories are not just for you, they are for your kids. They won’t see the flaws that you may see in yourself or your partner, they’ll just see how much you loved them and how you made a home to keep them safe. That’s all this is really about anyway.
Still feeling hesitant or have specific questions? Send me an email day or night, I’m happy to help! firstname.lastname@example.org
a Boston Area Family, Newborn, Elopement and Portrait Photographer living on the North Shore. Documenting humans in Ipswich, Hamilton, Wenham, Essex, Newburyport, Newbury, Gloucester, Manchester, Marblehead, Swampscott, Salem, Beverly, Winchester, Melrose, Boston (and more).