In the lead-up to the shoot, get the kids excited about what’s to come. Show them some photos that I’ve taken, let them know that you’re really excited, that we’ll be playing lots of fun games, and there might even be delicious snacks on offer. This brings me to my next point…

Bring snacks. There are lots of variables in family shoots that are beyond our control. When photographing kids, I’ve learned relatively quickly that every plan is contingent on their mood. But snacks are an almost entirely failsafe mood booster for the little ones (and lots of adults I know, too!). Packing a stash of treats to bust out right when the kids need that slice of motivation buys us a lot of precious time and cooperation! Other forms of bribery might include a special treat like a movie or a trip to the ice cream shop after the shoot to get them looking forward to the entire day.

If you wear them and the location calls for it, bring some jackets or hats or other items that reflect this time in your life. If your kids want to bring their favorite stuffed toy or wear their favorite rain boots, let them! Authenticity is in the details.

If you have time the day before the shoot, get all of your things ready and have them in the car so that on the morning of the shoot you and your family have some moments to unwind together by doing something that you love. Give yourself lots of time to get to the location so you don’t feel frazzled and rushed on arrival. When a family shows up to a shoot having had to drive illegal speeds to get there, it sets the tone for a rushed and disorganized session. Give yourself the gift of a relaxed session, and allow plenty of time for showers, baths, grooming, and forgetting things.

In terms of when to shoot, I love to shoot when the sun is low in the sky (just before sunset or just after sunrise) because the kind of natural light that fills the sky at this time makes everything look magical. Depending on when the sun rises and sets, this window of time might not work for everyone. But let’s have a chat about when the kids are most alert and work according to their schedules.

Do you find it hard to get everyone dressed and fed and out of the house on time? Maybe you don’t have to! There is so much beauty in the everyday moments in a family home. From candid moments around the kitchen table- to rolling around in tickle fights on the bed, I am a huge fan of in-home sessions for the way they authentically capture a snippet of your family reality. When everyone is comfortable, snacks are on-hand, and the weather isn’t as much of a concern, we don’t have to worry about rainchecks or hangry kids and can focus on the good stuff of capturing memories for years to come.