Secrets to Magazine-Worthy Family Sessions

Couple at Illinois State Beach with their young son.

Do you ever just see a family’s annual photos and wonder, “How?!” I used to ask the same thing. Then started to learn a few photog secrets to making your family’s next session one for the books, or in this case, magazines. Trust me, you want in on these secrets.

Work with your photographer on styling.

This may seem simple enough, but the styling makes or breaks the session. When you book with Grace & Knots, we’ll send you a tool that will assist you in all things styling. We’ll be there to guide you in what colors work best for your location, patterns, and even type of styling. Some locations are best suited for flowing gowns and all the skin showing, while others are perfect jeans, boots, and all the cozy sweaters we can find! Each family’s session is unique to their interests, and we work with that in mind, starting with making sure mama feels confident in what she is wearing.

Some families choose to do the styling independently, but a collaboration between us is key for the best sessions. I’ve learned what photographs well, and what doesn’t, and am happy to share that knowledge with you to create the most gorgeous session for your family.

Mama on the beach snuggling with her six month old son, captured by Grace & Knots Photography.

 

Show up with a carefree attitude.

I know this is 100% easier said than done. It’s challenging and I’ve been there! But here’s the thing, the very best sessions come to life when you are relaxed, going with the flow, and not stressing over how the littles are behaving. When you’re not stressing over hair in the face, or your little getting dirty, these sessions take on an entirely different form! So basically, pretend that everything your littles are doing is THE CUTEST THINGS YOU HAVE EVER SEEN. If you can do that, your gallery will turn out beautiful.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve captured littles where they are laughing, playing happily (and maybe being a little mischievous). The moment is instantly changed by a parent scolding their little, having upset or annoyed reactions to their child’s silliness. But imagine if the parents were playing alongside them or simply gazing at them as though they are the CUTEST THING THEY HAVE EVER SEEN – see how that could change the image entirely?

A few days before your family session, I send out an email reminding parents they get to be the cool parents on the day of their session. That means it’s a day where the kids don’t get in trouble for anything. Discipline is not allowed for the time we are all together, for just an hour or so, but redirection works wonders during that time. You can do it! I believe in you! Get in on the fun with your littles, show them that ridiculous, goofy side of you.

Be affectionate with your family.

During our time, I want you to snuggle your babies, kiss your other half, and truly be together. Get down on the ground and play with your littles. Run your fingers through their hair. Smell your baby (why on earth do babies just smell so good???). Give your other half a sweet kiss on the cheek or wrap them up in your arms while the kids explore around you. Embrace. Snuggle. Kiss.

Doing these things will allow me to naturally capture the emotion and beauty of your family. The photos will turn out so much sweeter when moments such as these are happening naturally. So do them in a way that is authentic to you and your family.

If you aren’t sure what to do, just get close to someone and snuggle them! Or take a moment to soak in the beauty that is your family. You can’t go wrong.

 

Think of things that make your littles laugh

Think of what your kids find funny and write them down ahead of time. Study that list a little before your session, then do or say those things during our time! Yes, your photographer has all sorts of tricks, but parents know their kids best. Use the little inside jokes or funny memories to make the experience more fun for them. And that will show in your family’s gallery. So make a note on your phone and just keep adding as funny things happen!

Choose a patient, fun, and carefree photographer

Okay, obviously, I hope that would be me. ☺️ Choosing a family photographer is a personal decision and not something to take lightly. When you select a photographer that is understanding, goes with the flow, and loves when your kids are themselves, it will show in your images. As a photographer, my greatest trick is to be relaxed, be in the moment with you guys, and watch your story unfold in front of me. I will never become frustrated with the silly antics or mischievousness of your littles. Rather I find it amusing and will laugh it off. I’ll allow them to lead us with their curiosity and capture every little bit of it.

If you’re in northern Illinois or the southern Wisconsin area and would love to learn more about booking your family photography session with me, you can find my pricing page here or book by simply sending me a message.

Images from this family session were published in The Storyteller Magazine, issue #87.

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