Tips for nailing your outdoor family photo session
Getting family photos taken doesn’t have to be stressful. We’re here to help make this fun! We’ve put together a huge list of tips and advice for parents on how to make sure your outdoor family photos turn out amazing! These steps will walk you through the entire process, from finding the right location for your family to choosing outfits and getting the perfect holiday card shot. Plus, our outdoor family photo ideas will help get your creative juices flowing and ensure you have fun getting your pictures taken!
Family photos are forever keepsakes and we want to encourage you to get them taken (and get in them). This post is filled with outdoor family photo ideas, creative family poses and inspirational family photo ideas. We hope this will inspire you to get in the frame and have fun! After all, getting your family photos taken is one more thing to check off that bucket list!
Location, location, location
Pick a location for your outdoor family photos that reflects the style of picture you want. If you want to be surrounded by nature, then choose that type location. If you want something fun and colorful, maybe go with a local carnival. Want show-stopper images? Climb a mountain (or not literally but we can pretend with some creative location selection) or find a secluded lake or hop in the River. Want an urban feel? Head into town and get some family pictures in the middle of the hustle and bustle or in front of some fun art or brick walls around town!
And don’t underestimate the option of taking family photos around your home! You can capture the golden hour glow and the falling leaves in the comfort of your own backyard, where the entire family is comfortable and relaxed. (check with me for travel fees and location limits)!
“Time moves so FAST – we blink and our kids grow up. Don’t let these sweet memories go by without documentation. These times when our babies are small, and we can tickle them, throw them up over our heads for a giggle, give them butterfly kisses or just snuggle them close. These moments are fleeting, and our memories will not hold every little detail. This is the impact of photography and what an image really holds in it. You can look at a picture and remember a whole time in your life. That is the power of a photograph…it can transport you to another time and hold dear memories in check for life.”
Timing is key
I’m sure you’ve all heard that there’s a magical “golden hour” just before sunset that’s the most coveted time of day for photos. Well, that may be true if you have kids that can function normally all hours of the day, but if you have little ones, that may not be the best time for your family. Little kids are usually the most cooperative at the start of the day, so take advantage of that window of opportunity for fresh faces and upbeat moods by booking a morning session – the hour after sunrise! Older kids can handle later hours (particularly in the summer months, when days are longer). You know your kids best, so choose a time that works for your family.
Check the weather
Photography is all about light, so make sure that the weather is not affecting the light around you. Open shade and clouds are usually fine (welcome, even), but intense heat or pouring rain are not going to work. Outdoor photoshoots are weather-dependent, so stay apprised of the weather forecast (I will, too) and I will let you know on whether the weather will be an issue during your shoot.
When picking out outfits for family photos, lay ALL the pieces out together so you can see how it all looks and coordinates. Try to stick to a color scheme with 2-3 main colors and a few neutral tones thrown in. Avoid anything with a logo or bold graphic. Many photographers will also recommend you avoid solid blacks and whites, as they tend to blend into backgrounds and/or show dirt/hair- I dont mind it but definitely accessorize! Layers and accessories help add depth and interest to outfits. An easy way to add interest and layers are with vests, jewelry, hats, tights, cardigans/jackets. Mix up different textures, prints, and coordinating colors.
Start by determining what mom will wear first. Mom sets the mood/tone for the entire shoot, so it’s important for mom to choose something she loves and feels comfortable and confident in. Style everyone else around her. Stay true to your style and the location. A ballgown in the mountains may look amazing on some moms if that’s what makes them feel confident. But it could totally flop if you’re more of a “jeans and t-shirt” kind of mom and are super uncomfortable in it. Wear what makes YOU feel good and shows your style and personality.
If you know that you’d like to have your images printed and hung in your home, you may also want to consider the colors you use when decorating and choose the colors for your family’s outfits to coordinate (or at least not clash).
Kids’ clothes should be comfy
Make sure everyone’s clothing fits well and is comfortable. There’s nothing worse than a toddler or child wearing an itchy dress or clothes that are too tight. You may be able to make it through an half hour or hour-long session with shoes that hurt your feet, but your kids won’t last. Also, consider the weather when choosing an outfit for your kids. Dressing them in a cute sleeveless dress on a cold wintery day will bring lots of tears. Set them up for success by dressing them appropriately for the temperature, activity, and location.
Prep your kids
Before your photo session, it’s a great idea to talk to your kids about what they can expect ahead of time to get them prepared. A lot of kids get nervous around new people or in new settings, so giving them a rundown on how things will go sets them up for success. If they’re nervous or scared, it’s a good idea to let them bring their favorite lovie or toy to get a special photo with. Make sure you sound excited about the photo session and not stressed or anxious (they’ll pick up on that).
Candid shots are king
If you have small children and your goal is to get that one perfect shot with everyone looking directly into the camera and smiling, then you may be disappointed. Little ones (usually) have very short attention spans and can be tough to warm up. A great family photographer will engage your kids and get them comfortable, playing and laughing, but they may not always be looking at the camera. That’s ok! Photos with everyone looking in a different direction are sometimes my favorites! Let everyone’s personality shine through and the photos will show the connection in a way that no standard front-facing smiling photo ever can.
It’s ok to take a few small breaks during family pictures to let the kids run around, get their wiggles out and burn some energy. While they’re running wild, we will take a few parent only pictures. Don’t forget that the parents are part of the family, too! You’ll be happy you have them and your kiddos will get a short break from all the orders, directions and smiling.
Ask for direction
Professional photographers can usually tell right away if a pose or shot looks off. Let me direct your interactions and poses. Even if it feels weird or unnatural, it may look great on the screen. Photographers posses a wealth of outdoor family photo ideas, inspiration and imagination. They know what looks good on camera and will help direct and manage. If you have questions about a pose or angle, ask for tips on how to stand, tilt your head, etc. and if you have posing ideas or requests be sure to share them with me!
If you need an insurance policy to make sure the day goes smoothly, feel free to resort to bribery. I’m definitely not above bribing my kids to behave with a toy, candy or a trip to the ice cream shop after photos are finished. Let me know what the bribe is so I can benefit from it, as well.
Relax and (try to) have fun