Family photo shoots need not be as dreaded as most people find them to be. With the right attitude and preparation, it can actually turn into very memorable moments, stories to tell and photos to show. Over the years I have learned a few things to make our family shoots worth the effort and expense, and to really celebrate milestones and occasions with the love and fun it should be done with. I’m sharing a few of my secrets with you, shhh…
With so many talented photographers to choose from, the best way to get the most out of your family shoot is to choose someone who will reflect your family’s character best. Photographers are able to adjust to a setting and a style, but I found that plenty of research into the photographer’s previous shoots will give you a good idea of his/her style. I was so lucky to find Gillian Coetzee! What I love most about her work is the depth and natural tone of her photographs. She has insight into the message I want to convey and captures essential moments and expressions as it happens.
For me, the location depends on the season and again on the message of the photo shoot. I like to give it a story, a narrative, which makes it fun to participate in. It’s easy enough when you have a small family like mine to select quite adventurous settings, but if you have a larger family with young kids, this will be a little bit more challenging. In which case it’s important to choose a setting where most members of the family feel comfortable. So don’t choose breaking waves if you have a toddler terrified of the sea, rather opt for your own home if you have a big enough lawn to accommodate the family and the activities of the shoot.
We like to do shoots on the beach as it gives us plenty of space to run and enjoy the moment. While living in the city, we chose nearby farm settings for beautiful moments walking down a dirt road or running in the field. It all depends on the nature of the shoot and the occasion.
Support Local Crafters
What better way to showcase local talent than to include it in your photo shoot. For our Christmas shoot, we were spoilt for choice! Our Crochet Christmas stockings and hats were lovingly handmade by Lienielief.
With young children, it helps to have old favourites and a few new ones at hand. Karakenya’s exquisitely handmade deer was made especially for our Christmas shoot and Mishka’s old time favourite Pinocchio (Little.Handmade) had to come along!
My favourite – the Moses Basket (Perfect_Imperfect) It’s so versatile and can hold so many other props, so it really is dual purpose – essential to all my photo shoots!
To add texture and colour to the otherwise neutral setting of the beach I collaborated with @kooshuhn to add fun with her little knotted cushions.
True to your family traditions
If you’re not outdoorsy, don’t go climb a mountain just for the sake of the shoot. Do something your family feels comfortable with and enjoys. If you’re bookworms, take picnic blankets and books to set the tone. It will make for the most natural moments.
For our shoot, we brought our lovely TeePee Tent (Totemteepee) to set the tone for engaging in the shoot because Mishka has this at home and spends hours in the tent imagining herself as part of a bigger story, always inviting us to sit with her and participate – this replicates those moments and it helps her to feel at home which in return makes for beautiful natural photos.
Not to mention getting Dad to be part of the shoot too – over the years I found that it is much easier for Ian to smile if it is for a real reason and not forced. It’s just one of those things; most men find it a bit more difficult to look naturally happy in the photo because they are so nervous. Creating natural moments make this easy-peasy! Why not add movement to the shoot by adding something like this wooden trolley (Little Beach Tribe) – perfect to get Dad to participate!
This year I taught Mish how to make a wreath and these Pennygum wreaths were perfect for our Christmas shoot – not so easy to convince hubby though ; ).
The secret to our family shoots is fun! We’ve been doing photo shoots twice a year for the last six years, and the greatest lesson I learned was to make this a fun event. This is done by setting the mood weeks in advance. Talking about it and looking forward to it as a family.
Choose colours appropriate for the setting and the story. Usually, neutrals work best for soft and elegant shoots. Creams, soft pastels, oatmeals, light browns, tans, greys, slate blues…you get the idea. If you are going for fun and brightness choose more colourful outfits with a few highlights such as red or yellow. We wanted to add a bit of quirkiness to our shoot and this was easy with Mevrouandco’s tongue-in-cheek T-shirts.
I love nothing more than to dress Mish up for our shoots. After all, when do you get the opportunity to go all out! This shoot coincided with Mish’s 6th birthday and one of our favourite shoe suppliers (Bear Bear and Me) sent her these amazing wine red shoes for her birthday – Thank you so much!
No photo shoot is complete if there’s not at least one of our lovely Annapatat creations – a beautiful custom made wine-red pinafore added the perfect girly element we needed for Mish. We chopped and changed Mishka’s outfits because I found such lovely suppliers, I had to showcase their work!
Demi form Toniancloset speaks my language – Vintage! The cute little jumpsuit was absolutely perfect for our beach shoot, and I can’t wait to show you more as we will be collaborating this year!
Lovely Laura from Rosiebee Children’s Clothing supplied the cream dress with Christmas detail to accentuate the occasion.
If you find it difficult to plan for a family shoot, try a few of these tips and slowly incorporate more as you feel more comfortable with your own style.
The best photos are the ones reflecting the true nature of your family
We’ve come a very long way since those awful studio photos with the awful brown backdrops. There’s so much out there to choose from, so many different ideas online. Go wild! Make your whole family part of the planning and you will soon have beautiful authentic photographs to be proud of.