Family Session Tips

Boudoir might be my speciality but I am no stranger to family sessions. No matter your photography niche, this is the time of year where you’ll find people suddenly asking for a family mini session so the perfect Christmas card can be handed out to grandparents, aunts and uncles and all the other loved ones in their life.

Whether you have clients coming out of the woodwork begging for a session before the holidays, or you love shooting family sessions year-round, I’m sharing my best tips for family sessions that you can start putting to use today!

1 – Get To Know Your Clients
Getting to know your client is the biggest piece of the family session puzzle. When you begin to know the client, you’ll get to know what they want and what style they are aiming for. This is crucial for selecting a location for their session, the pre-set you’ll use and more. I love using Honeybook to get to know my clients. I send out questionnaires they get to fill out that answer all the questions I may have. Before we ever chat they fill out these questionnaires so that when we do connect, I know exactly what other information I need to fill in the gaps and help plan an amazing session for them.

2 – Style Style Style
A consistent look between all family members creates images that look flawless and cohesive. Consistent fashion choices and a pre-determined color palette will help create images that flow and don’t look disjointed because of one that one neon sweater their kid lives in these days. I’ve started using Style and Select and cannot get enough of it.

First, your client will fill out a questionnaire. Then Style and Select provide visuals for the clients to use clothes they already own (a huge bonus for families!). It also links to the clothing items in case your client falls in love with an item they see and decide they want to purchase it for themselves. And the best part is that this isn’t a budget-breaking service. Style and Select showcases options from stores like Old Navy all the way up to higher-end options so your clients can feel like their dream look for their session is actually attainable.

Photos by Ashlyn Hale edited with Runway Collection

3 – Get INSIDE
This tip is probably one of the wildest ones you’ll hear compared to other family session tips and tricks blog out there but just hear me out! During the colder months (December – February), consider having a session inside so you can control the temperature and the look. When you’re inside you don’t need to worry about rain or snow or chilly winter temps that cause noses to turn bright right and kids to become instantly grumpy because they are cold. During these months I will suggest to my clients that we do photos in their home! If they’d prefer a different setting I’ll shoot them in my studio.

4 – Props
If a client doesn’t want to shoot at their home and you’re booking studio space, you’ll want to be sure you have different props available than what you tend to use for boudoir. That bed you have in your boudoir studio might not work unless you’re going to let the kids in the session have a pillow fight with feathers flying through the air! I recommend picking chairs, a bench or a couch and selecting something in wicker or any other neutral palette. If you’re renting a studio, many studios have props like couches, chairs and more ready to rent for your session. Inquiry what’s available for renting before committing to a space and save yourself the hassle of having to find your own props!

5 – Runway
Over the years, and over the presets, I’ve discovered that Runway is the best preset for indoor family sessions. These presets were created with different Blue and Cyan tones that help give your images a little bit of a boost without being too invasive. The FashionBW3 is my all-time favorite black and white preset and The Milian preset in the Runway collection works great on all skin tones, evening out the skin tone and giving everyone a nice glow. Editing with the Runway collection will instantly give your photos a polished feel that aren’t too high fashion or moody but perfect for a family.  Watch my video here to see how I edit a family indoor session using the Runway Collection.

Photos by Ashlyn Hale edited with Runway Collection

Family sessions can be a joy when you know your clients and can help them prepare by providing them options for clothing to make the images flow, when you can prepare by booking a studio with all the things you need and when you can edit the session with confidence. Often a family session can be intimidating if you’re not doing them often but a little giggle and smile from one of the kids or a moment of pure love shared between the parents of the littles makes it all worth it.

I would love to see your family session work! Join the Facebook group and share some of your images.

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