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How to Prepare for a Family Photo Session (Without Losing Your Mind)

As a photographer who specializes in family portraits, I've seen it all - from meltdowns over matching outfits to forced smiles that look borderline insane. I know that family photo sessions can be stressful. But they don't have to be! Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your family photo session, without losing your mind.

1. Forget About Matching Outfits

While it can be tempting to coordinate your family's outfits down to the last detail, it's not necessary. Moreover, I personally don't think it looks all that good. Instead, choose a color family (say jewel tones, or earthy color, or primes) and let everyone wear what they feel comfortable in. Not only will this save you time and money, but it will also make for a more natural and relaxed photo session. Also, it will probably help avoid a few tantrums.

2. Let Kids Be Kids

One of the biggest mistakes parents make during family photo sessions is trying to force their kids to behave a certain way. It works sometimes - I happened to meet a few magical kids like that. But the reality is, kids are going to be kids! If your child doesn't want to smile, that's okay. Smiles are overrated! Let them be themselves and the resulting photos will be more authentic and memorable.

3. Bring Snacks and Props

Snacks are key. Every parent knows it and photo-sessions are no different. What works particularly well is a "surprise" snack - something your kids love a LOT and may be not getting daily. Moreover, a surprise snack works as a perfect bribing tool. Props - as in toys or anything your little ones love to do - all works. Bike? Bring a bike.

4. Embrace the Imperfect

In our social media-driven world, it's easy to get caught up in the idea of a "perfect" family photo. But perfection is overrated! Embrace the imperfections and quirks that make your family unique. These are the things that will make your photos truly special and meaningful.

5. Do What Your Family Does

Picture this: It's the middle of Covid lockdown, and I've got a family of 9 to photograph (that's 5 kids, 2 adults, a dog, and a cat). We are trying to come up with a theme and outfits for the Christmas card photoshoot, when I ask the mother, "So, what do you all do?"

"Well," she says, "we're in our PJs and sweats all day, and all the kids are on their devices - sometimes on two devices at a time. My husband and I are just trying to keep our sanity. Can we photograph that?"

You bet we can! And let me tell you, the result was priceless - you be the judge. I think it relates to every family as it captures the chaos and hilarity of this family's lockdown routine. Who says family photos have to be all serious and posed? Sometimes, the best photos come from just being real and just letting your family do what they do.

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