Gosh – I’ve done a LOT of family sessions over the years since becoming a working photographer over 15 years ago. I feel that the experience can help you develop ideas for how you’d like your family photos to happen, if you don’t have strong ideas yourself.

If you do – then I’d love to hear them when you book!

But if you don’t then I’ve started to see a couple of categories that many of my sessions have fallen into..

1 – “Connected Combinations”

When people simply want their connections captured – they want happy shots together, connected and liking each other! That may be an individual family (this can come in many forms – couples without kids, pets, single-parents etc), extended family or even groups of friends. And often there’s an important list of combinations to photograph, like parent and child, or siblings together or grandparents with grandkids etc etc!

I’ve found that for this style of session it’s best to be in one main location, with good light and backdrop and we work through the list in a joyous, relaxed way. I’m good with a million tricks to keep it going smoothly and efficiently and most important, fun! It could be in one of my favourite parks to suggest, or one closely to you or in the backyard.

My ‘Pre-Christmas Family Photo Session Days’ when I choose some favourite parks and have groups come to me on particular days are often perfect opportunities for these sessions and allow people to get a great set of photos to use as very appreciated gifts. Follow my facebook page to see when the dates are announced.

Some examples of what I would call ‘Connected Combinations’ sessions are below… and note that while people may have been placed in a ‘group’, there’s still natural smiles and genuine connection captured. I always attempt to avoid forced smiles and uncomfortable posing..

2 . “Storytelling”

When you have a ‘story’ you want captured… It might be that your family loves to visit the local creek, or the Grandpa in the family has a treasured vintage car that you could celebrate for his 70th birthday surrounded by his grandkids, or that your father is a woodworker and you want his processes and tools photographed, or your parents are moving from your family home and you want a last session there to capture some memories or someone is about to undergo chemotherapy and needs to be surrounded by hugs, the arrival of a new dog (or human!) … the list is endless!

There are so many stories we could tell through photos and often these ‘story telling’ sessions are less about the combinations to tick off… and more about documenting processes and candid moments. Of course there will often be groups you want pictured, but in also documenting other aspects of the location you might need to consider some additional time, or reducing the wishlist… Let’s talk about what you want and need and what I can do for you!

Some examples of what I would call ‘Storytelling’ Sessions…

It’s possible one of the two ‘categories’ I’ve spoken about above doesn’t quite fit what you’re after with your family photos so be in touch to chat more – and I’d love to help you if I’m able to!

Thanks to all the families above who have allowed me to share their images.

Well, first of all… Despite what the title suggests, I would never actually tell you ‘what to wear’ ! It’s not my style, and to me the most important factor in a successful shoot is mood and connection (as well as light and backdrops) moreso than clothing, however it’s very common for people who book a session to then ask me for tips, so this is what I tell them….

Firstly, choose something that you feel super comfortable and confident in, and be able to move (& cuddle) freely without you being preoccupied by clothing riding up, or restricting you in any way.

Having said that you ‘may’ decide that your family might like to have some colour themes flowing through the group ie blues, whites and browns… and have a variety of tones and patterns to provide some visual interest. OR you may not think about this at all and it can still be wonderful! A look through my portfolio on my website will show you lots of different examples and perhaps inspiration.

This group didn’t really have much discussion about their clothing choices but you can see how having some common colours like blues and greens, mixed with some whites and pops of other colours like the red, just works so beautifully in a natural environment of greens and browns. Patterns and plains work great!

Avoid being ‘too’ matchy matchy… as I personally don’t love the idea of all in denim jeans and white tops, but truly if that’s what you want to do, then do it!

Deciding to have denim as a feature can work great – and with variety of patterns and clothing it doesn’t have to fall into the ‘same same’ category…

Be careful with how much you direct your family group’s clothing choices, especially extended families. Remember my first point about choosing something people are comfortable and confident in because in my opinion, that’s more important than colour tones. You can all be perfectly toned in but if the ‘vibe’ or mood is not great.. then it’s all for nothing!

This family just happened to be sharing some similar tones but were actually all free to wear whatever they wanted. It usually makes for much more comfortable and engaged participants if they’ve had some freedom to choose!

Finally – I’m very aware that the thought of being part of a photo shoot can be quite intimidating for some people, even if most find the reality to be much more happy and relaxing than they imagined! But these pieces of clothing advice are designed to lessen the stress, not add to it, so please take or leave the suggestions and you’ll never get any comments from me about your choices on the day.

Hoping that you’ll smile will be my main goal! : )

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