What You Need to Know Before Your Next Family Photoshoot

family photos

Fall is here, which for many of us means it’s time to get family photos taken. I’ve spoken with Emily Ferguson, half of the duo that makes up Madison Grey Photography, to get the inside scoop on what moms really need to know when prepping for a family photoshoot.


Stay on Trend

We typically recommend that families mix and match solids and prints when they are planning outfits for a photoshoot. You tend to look dated if everyone shows up looking too matchy-matchy. Old Navy, H&M, and Target are all really good options for finding coordinating family outfits. Even Amazon has some cute and inexpensive looks for women and girls.”

Keep It Simple

“The easiest thing for a mom to wear for family photos is a maxi dress because then you are not thinking about all the coordinating pieces of an outfit. It’s one and done. Three quarter or long sleeves are the best because then no matter what pose you are in it will be flattering for your arms.”

Pay Attention to the Details

  1. If a little girl has bangs, make sure they are trimmed or pulled back, so they are not in her eyes.
  2. Bring hairspray with you in case of fly-aways.
  3. Always wipe your kids’ faces right before the shoot because they are always accumulating crusties, leftover food, and boogers without you realizing it.
  4. Check to be sure no one is wearing neon socks, has a hair tie on their wrist, or has bra straps showing, that sort of thing.
  5. Shoes matter, so don’t overlook them when planning your outfits.
  6. Make sure all your clothes are steamed or ironed.
  7. Have everyone try on their photoshoot outfits beforehand. We once had a little boy wearing pants that were too big and kept falling down through the whole photoshoot!

Don’t Sweat It

“When it’s hot out we recommend that our clients, especially the dads, bring a rag to dab their sweat, and to avoid wearing colors that will show sweat. Stick with white or black. Gray and certain fabrics show sweat marks. Also hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.”

Hair and Makeup

Go All Out

“If you can, I would suggest getting your hair and makeup professionally done before your photoshoot because it makes all the difference. In pictures the details matter. If you’re paying the money to have professional photos done, you might as well do it 110%. That is, unless makeup is going to make you feel uncomfortable, but a good makeup artist can still enhance your natural beauty without making you look over the top.”

Enhance your Features

“If you don’t wear a lot of makeup on a regular basis but want to try some for your photos, a lightweight BB cream is a good place to start. It’s not heavy and smooths out your skin tone. Other than that, I would say some lip gloss, blush, and mascara just to enhance your natural features a little more.”


Take It Seriously

“Always plan to be early. If you’re doing an outdoor shoot, the best light will only last for so long and you don’t want to waste it. When you’re preparing for a session, you should treat it almost like a wedding. Set aside a few hours ahead of time to prepare. You want your kids to be well rested and fed. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it for one day of stress and photos you will cherish forever.”

Consider Timing and Location

“Kids only have an attention span of 20 minutes or so and then they are over it, so it may be worth considering a mini session (10-15 minutes) for your shoot instead of the typical hour offered by many family photographers. I also think outdoor locations [as opposed to studio sessions] are better for families with small children because it’s more relaxed and they can run around and not be so confined.”

Cater to the Kiddos

“For young kids especially, prepare ahead of time. Bring little snacks or a favorite toy to help make the kids happy. Bribe them if you need to. Play music if you want to, but using the phone to make your kid smile should be a last resort. Usually it just ends up with the child grabbing for the phone and being upset that they can’t hold it.”


Don’t Stress

“So many parents spend their entire photoshoot stressing about what their kids are doing and don’t relax enough to let the photos look natural. If you are stressed and tense, it will show in your photos. So just relax and trust your photographer.”

A Smile Isn’t Everything

“A lot of times moms stress about getting a photo of their kids with a real smile. I get it. But I think parents often overlook the fact that we are capturing their children as they truly are in that moment. Years down the road you will still cherish a quality photo of your child even though he’s not smiling.”

Behind the Scenes

“Many people don’t realize why good photography is expensive. You only get 30 minutes to an hour with us, but as photographers we are spending hours behind the scenes filtering through all the photos, choosing the best ones, and fine tuning them for you. Editing is time consuming and we put a lot of effort into it to please our clients.”

Don’t Forget to Print

After all the beautiful hours spent preparing and planning, be sure to print your beautiful photos! I used Photowall to create beautiful canvases that came out beautifully! 

Find out more about Madison Grey Photography by following them on Facebook or Instagram @madisongreyphoto. 


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