Family photos capture the story of your life through every chapter. They can even be styled to reflect the unique personality of your household at each stage. Got littles who love the Avengers? Try a superhero theme. Celebrating a milestone in October? Dress in fall colors with vibrant leaves and pumpkins in the background. Options are endless, and a photographer can help you plan the elements of your session to get the perfect family photo.
Ashley Read has done photography since she was a teenager. The Indiana-based photographer started working exclusively with families and children two years ago because of the connection she feels with those types of sessions. The owner of Ashley Read Photography shared her go-to advice for families looking to maximize their investment.
Outdoor venues make a great backdrop, depending on the time of year and the place you live. And choosing where to take the photos is the obvious starting point to figuring out the other aspects of the session, including clothing, accessories, and hues.
Typically, Ashley says, she chooses the location unless the client has a personal request.
“I will ask the client if they have a specific place in mind or if they’ve seen a session I’ve shared on social media and they liked the location. My favorite locations change depending on the time of year,” she explained.
She added that she usually waits to pick a spot until the date gets closer because conditions of the environment may change.
“And I don’t usually choose the location until the week prior because foliage and flowers can change so quickly. I am a natural light photographer, and most of my sessions are shot during “golden hour," so the first thing I look for in choosing a location is the sun. My favorite places to shoot are near a body of water or in an open field. Sometimes once the client has shared with me what they will be wearing, it helps give me a feel for the style, and then I can choose a location that will compliment it.”
What look are you hoping to capture in your family photo? As warmer temps finally arrive, maybe you are hoping to capitalize on a gorgeous beach setting and wear whites, nudes, and jean-colored attire like this Babyface Stenson Wash Button-Up Shirt. Plus, this is the time of year when greenery comes back to life. If your kids have a favorite park location, consider dressing them in some of Bloom’s new arrivals, like the Tea Collection Hi-Lo Baby Dress, which complement the blooming flowers of springtime.
Ashley shared that the most important part of prepping for your family’s photo is not to put too much pressure on yourself.
“I know from my own experience what goes on behind the scenes, before you pull up to the location. You can spend hours browsing the internet for clothing or maybe even taking a last-minute trip to the store the night before for those last-minute accessories or a switch up altogether. And then it is typically chaos trying to get all the kids dressed and clean (and to stay clean!) while also trying to make yourself look like a million bucks,” she said.
But, she recommends avoiding stress and even enjoying the chaos because at the end of the day you want the photos to be genuine, authentic representations of your family.
“Your kids’ behavior is nothing your photographer has not already seen, and if the kids are comfortable enough to ‘be themselves’ then you’re going to get awesome photos. Personally, I don’t want your kids to sit stiffly and say “cheese,” so don’t expect them to. Let them be them, and all you have to do is smile and consider it quality family time.”
Here are the three most important tips to consider when styling your session:
- Start with one outfit you really like, and then go from there. Usually, if mom can find an outfit she likes and feels confident in, then the kids and husband are easy to find coordinating outfits for.
- Along those same lines, wear what you feel good in. Don’t wear something you wouldn’t normally. Put your kids in clothes that represent their own style and personality. If you don’t feel good about what you’re wearing, it is going to show in the photos.
- Don’t match! Choose a color palette of about three to four colors with one of them being a brighter pop of color. And don’t be afraid to mix patterns—florals and stripes totally go together. You really want to show your personalities through the clothing.
It’s time to start thinking about the who, what, where, when, and how of snapping this moment in time. Your family’s photos will give you something to look back on when these present times seem like distant history. And even though it is easy to feel stress in wanting to capture the perfect shot, there’s something so beautiful about preserving the authentic and genuine characteristics of your current phase of life. Have fun with it, and just remember this can—and should be—a lighthearted experience. Say cheese!