How to Make the Most of Summer Family Photos– Nailed it!

If you’re the kind of family that loves to have fun in the sun, a Summer family lifestyle photography session might just be perfect for you. Sure, it’s hot. But when did that ever stop you from having a great time? If you answered never, I’m talking to you! If you answered sometimes, hello SUNRISE.

The Photographer

The first and most important step of nailing the perfect Summer family photos is choosing the right photographer! Ask for recommendations and look at their portfolio/website/social media. What you see is what you get! Find someone with a style that makes you say, “yessssss!”

You don’t have to pick the most expensive photographer in town, but keep in mind that this is an investment to document your memories.

Schedule in advance. Talented photographers fill up fast, especially in the Fall.

Build a connection with your photographer. They want to hear about your vision for the session. A conversation about style and location can do wonders to get you on the same page.

The Location

A good place to start is asking your photographer for a list of recommendations. Next, drive around and pay attention to different areas near you that would make beautiful and creative backgrounds for family pictures.

Choose a location that matches your family’s personality. You’ll want these pictures to reflect this time in your life. For some that’s urban and for others it’s woodsy. And some clients choose to have this phase of life documented in the most raw and real way in the comfort of their own home.

Before you become too attached to a location, run it by your photographer. They should know if there are any issues (such as permitting or difficult lighting) or if there are other choices available that might be a better fit!

Pose Ideas

Some photographers will heavily pose their subjects and other photographers (like myself) give prompts and encourage their clients to interact naturally. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to have a few ideas of how to incorporate motion and movement into your session.

  1. Play it out
  2. Hug it up
  3. Hold hands
  4. Pucker up
  5. Focus on the kids
  6. Focus on the parents
  7. Get ready for your close-up
  8. Be super silly

What to Wear

Outdoor: For Summer, a pop of color is so hot! I generally recommend a long, flowy maxi dress for women (think Free People or Anthropologie). If you choose one with a bright floral or tropical pattern, you instantly have the colors to create your palette. Now, it’s easy to know what shades to dress everyone else in. The key is to choose complimentary colors and to limit patterns to one or two people. For husband, jeans and a nice tee (think J. Crew or Rag & Bone) or short sleeve button-up is perfect in warmer months. For the littles, just make sure they’re comfortable. With regards to shoes, choose a new pair or one that’s been well-kept.

Indoor: I almost always suggest my clients wear jeans and a nice tee for at-home sessions. Throw in a pop of color, but keep it neutral. Shoes are not needed!

Above all else, wear your confidence. Your energy will shine through the photographs. Bring your best self!

How to Look Good In Front of the Camera

Who doesn’t want to look their very best? At this point, you’ve invested your money in the session and chosen the perfect wardrobe. Here are some last-minute recommendations for little things to do so you can look back on the session and say, “Nailed it!”

  1. Schedule your shoot at golden hour near sunrise or sunset.
  2. Leave everything you can behind! That includes sunglasses, keys (ask your photographer to keep them), cell phones, chewing gum, snacks, bottles, bags and hair ties.
  3. Angle your body towards the camera instead of facing it straight on.
  4. Bring a little motion into the game. To avoid the totem pole look, slowly move (gracefully!) as your photographer is snapping.
  5. Try touching the person next to you instead of hanging your arms straight down.
  6. To avoid shine, use plenty of powder on your face and neck.

Getting the Kiddos to Cooperate

  1. Attitude is contagious. Get as excited as possible. The anticipation will rub off!
  2. Allow plenty of time. It’s hard to be patient and positive when you’re rushed.
  3. Give the kids breaks in between shots to run and play. If your photographer is into lifestyle shots, these activities will provide them with an opportunity to capture authentic personalities! You’ll get great candid shots if you let them be little.
  4. Bribery is totally acceptable. Offer them a reward after the session is over. I scream. You scream. We all scream for ICE CREAM!

Getting Your Spouse on Board

Because sometime the kids aren’t the only ones who drag their feet.

  1. Plan ahead so he knows it’s coming and has time to mentally prepare for it.
  2. Share with him why it’s so important to you. Is it about preserving memories?
  3. Give him a say in it. What does he want captured? What does he want to wear? What will help him feel comfortable and get excited? Does he need a reward, too? Golf, please. Give him an opinion and value it.
  4. Budget for it to avoid money stress.
  5. Let him know you appreciate it.

What It’s All About

You don’t need an elaborate shoot. Often, keeping it simple is best. Don’t sweat the small stuff. In 10 years, you aren’t going to care that your daughter was picking flowers or your son was jumping in puddles instead of looking at the camera smiling. You’ll just be glad you caught them as she or he was– little.

Let loose and have fun. If you move into straight up “mom mode” or “dad mode” and start snapping “don’t do this”, or “look there”, it’s going to be hard to get sincere smiles out of anyone– including you.

Remember that the best family photos aren’t always “picture perfect” smiles and poses. The best family photos show emotion and affection between people who love each other. That takes a lot of pressure off of you. Love is all you need!

Go with the flow. No matter how much you prepare and plan, you never know what is going to happen. The more flexible you are, the better results you will have.

Ultimately, just relax and have a sense of humor. Laughing makes almost anything a little better! Remember why you’re doing this in the first place. It’s not about the pretty card or the perfect smiles, it’s about the memories.

Worst case scenario is that no one cooperates. Maybe there’s not a photograph where everyone is looking at the camera smiling or maybe the baby won’t stop crying. In the end, you have still managed to freeze frame time and capture memories with the ones you love the most. And one day– you will cherish that family picture.

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