I know that a lot of anxiety can come with booking a family photo-shoot, especially with toddlers! What do I wear? What should the kids wear? What if they don't smile? What if they misbehave?

Firstly, I want you to take all the ideas and expectations you have of what a family session should look like and throw it out the window. Gone are the days of traditional 'look at the camera and smile' family photos. No more formal clothing or matching white t-shirts and blue jeans. No more forced smiles and awkward poses! Go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief! Because you and your kids, can just be yourselves!

I'm here to capture your family; how you play; how you touch; how you laugh. I want to document your natural connections and the honest details that make your family unique.

In saying that, having been on both sides of the camera (with my two little boys), I want to give you some advice to best prepare you in the lead up to your session. Take from it what you will.

Dress for the weather and location

The first question I always get asked is "What should we wear?". You might be expecting me to say "Just wear whatever you would normally wear". However, in this case, wardrobe can be the difference between good photos and great ones. I'm not saying you need to go out and buy everyone new outfits, or try to fit into that dress hanging at the back of your wardrobe, but some consideration into everyone's outfits ahead of time is beneficial.

  • Neutral, earthy or pastel colours are best, as they will blend well with most locations. Avoid bright colours, distracting patterns, logos and text. You absolutely don't need to match, just try to wear colour tones that work well together.
  • If your session is outdoors, dress for the climate. I love cosy knit jumpers, beanies and boots. You don't need to be in a long flowy dress if it doesn't make sense..
  • Likewise, it doesn't make sense to wear high heels whilst walking through a grass field. Please be practical here and choose safety and comfort over style. Or, depending on the location vibe, you might ditch the shoes altogether!
  • For the little ones, think practical and comfortable. You don't want to spend the session fussing over outfits, fixing collars and tucking in shirts, when that time could be better spent interacting with your children. If you are going to be picking them up, onsies and all-in-ones are best, as you don't want their top to slide up, covering their face or exposing a nappy. Avoid high collars or frilly sleeves that may also cover faces from a side angle. And most importantly, if your kid is uncomfortable, they're going to show it!
  • If there is a chance bub might have an 'accident' in the car on the drive to the shoot, best to also bring a 'back up' outfit!
  • Lastly, a good tip is to pick Mum's outfit first and then choose the other outfits based around that. And try everyone's outfits on before the day!

Lastly, there is nothing better than a beautiful outfit that makes you feel amazing - but rather than buy a whole new outfit, why not hire! I have 15% off for all clients with Mama Rentals (insta @mamarentals) visit mamarentals.com.au

Family walking through grass field outside at sunset

Choosing a Location and Time of shoot

If you are having your session outdoors, try to choose a location that you are naturally drawn to. If your family likes going on adventures amongst the trees, then let's do that! If you prefer a more relaxed, lazy stroll by the water, let's do that instead. I'm up for all of it! This is going to bring out the best of both you and any little ones, as its going to feel less like a photo shoot and more like your usual Sunday afternoon (just with this extra girl tagging along... lol)

If you really want an outdoor session but don't think you can handle the toddler tantrums that tend to come along at that sunset hour, we can totally push your session earlier and choose a location that will provide us some shade and escape from any harsh sunlight... And if you say pretty please, I might be able to drag my butt out of bed for a sunrise shoot for you. But please bring coffee! lol #notamorningperson

Alternatively, you can always decide to have your session in the comfort of your own home. Not only will this give you some more flexibility with your session time, but your photos will hold another layer of nostalgia being wrapped within the walls of your home. Lifestyle home sessions allow your children to feel relaxed and safe in their environment and I am able to document your story in a more natural and authentic way.

Family standing together outside cuddling and laughing
Daughter on fathers shoulders as they walk through the forest

The day leading up

In order to give your little ones (and yourself, for that matter) the best chance for an easy and stress-free session, have a normal and relaxed day as much as possible. Don't take the kids out for a tiring day full of activities. If you can, hang around the house and give them a familiar day routine, including any usual naps. This will also allow you to slowly get yourself ready throughout the day so there is no rush at the last hour. Then, when the time comes for you to get dressed and head out on your adventure, or to welcome me over for in-home photos, they will be up for the occasion with plenty of energy and excitement.

It is also helpful to prepare your kids for the photo-shoot by actually telling them where you are going later, who is going to be taking photos of you and get them excited about it! Also tell them why; "We are going to have our pictures taken so that we can look at them together every day and remember how much fun we had!". Kids love seeing photos of themselves, well at least my big boy does. Whenever I take a photo on my phone he immediately demands to see it: "Show, show!", he says lol. Followed by his face lighting up with a big smile as he sees himself.

If you're still not entirely confident that your children will be keen when its time to head out, or if they will let their 'inner gremlin' out during the shoot, then a little bribe can be helpful. Let's be honest, kids tend to be better behaved when there is something in it for them, right? It can be something a small as bringing a treat/snack to have on hand during the session (mini white marshmallows are great! Avoid coloured lollies or chocolates that will make a mess!), or perhaps a larger bribe that they will get after the session is done.

Lastly, fill their bellies! There is nothing worse than a hungry toddler, or a hungry Dad for that matter! If you can, have an early dinner, or at the very least, a substantial snack to get you all through. If you need to feed your little bub during the session, this is absolutely allowed! Feel free to bust out the boob or bottle when required. In fact, this is one of my favourite moments to capture and usually ends up being one of Mums favourites too!

Boy running through grass field laughing and smiling

Be Yourselves

There are very few times in life when we are completely switched off from the outside world and totally present with our children - make this one of those moments! Take this time to enjoy them, be present and slow down. If they want to explore, explore with them. If they are shy and want some cuddles, then I will capture these moments too. No expectations, we will capture your family just as you are, whatever that looks like!

If you are still asking "But what do we do in front of the camera?", rest assured, you will be given some gentle direction throughout the session. I'll tell you where to walk or stand and throw out some helpful prompts. But for the most part, I just want you to interact with your children as you normally would at home; soft hugs and kisses, cheeky tickles, whispers in their ears. I want to capture them looking adoringly into your eyes and wrapping their chubby little hands around you. I don't need them standing still or looking at the camera. I want to document your love and connection; the beautiful and the messy. Its all worth remembering.

Family walking in a line outside through a grass field at sunset

Bonus Tips

  • If heading out on location, you don't need to bring a Mary Poppins bag with all the things - just bring yourselves. Empty your pockets and put your car keys in my camera bag. Then you will have your hands free to focus on loving up on your kids and joining them in on exploring. Of course, if there is something that you absolutely must have on hand (like an emergency nappy and wipes) then bring along a little bag. I am happy to throw it over my shoulder whilst we walk and snap photos.
  • Just remember, parenthood is a whirlwind of beautiful chaos. Let's embrace it, all of it!

Thanks for reading! If you have any more questions or just want to chat about booking a session, hit the contact button below.