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October 2, 2019

How to Prepare for Your DC Family Photo Session


Mother, father, and daughter standing in a park during a fall family photo session.

It’s that time of year when many families gather for a DC family photo session to get that perfect shot for Christmas cards or new portrait hanging on the wall. I love photographing families in the fall for many reasons, from the gorgeous colors and scenery to the animated little ones. 

As part of the experience I provide my clients, I include a planning session guide that includes recommendations on session locations, times, and wardrobe. It also gives my clients confidence going into and leaving their session knowing they will get beautiful photos no matter what. 

Below are some quick tips to help you prepare your family for the perfect DC family photography session:.

1. Choose the right photographer for you for your DC family photo session.

Photographers all have their own styles. When and where they shoot, the settings they use on their cameras, how they edit, the wardrobe selections they recommend, how families interact in the photos – all of these contribute to a photographer’s overall style. If you are looking for “everybody looking at the camera” photos, a lifestyle photographer may not be the best fit. It is best to choose a photographer whose style YOU truly love so everyone is happy. Seasoned photographers generally don’t veer outside their style for their professional work because they want their clients to know exactly what to expect.

Some photographers sell products, such as prints, canvases, or albums, and some only sell the session with digital files. Make sure you understand exactly what the photographer you like provides so you know what is included in your session.

2. Plan your location and time.

Many photographers recommend shooting only during certain time frames for the light. I photograph in the hour around sunrise or sunset because it provides soft, golden light that is flattering for all of my families! This often means earlier wake times or later bedtimes. With careful coordination, it is TOTALLY worth it! 

Choose a location that has meaning to your family or take your photographer’s recommendations. I love shooting in families’ homes as much as I love shooting in my favorite locations; don’t forget that the location does not need to be extravagant.

DC family photo session

3. Coordinate your family’s attire – avoid matching.

I love matching outfits for everyday wear, but when it comes to family photos, I encourage my families to coordinate their outfits so there is not a repeat of the same colors on all tops or bottoms consistently. This not only makes the photos more timeless but also interesting for the eye. I recommend my families stay in an organic palette that includes neutrals, grays, mauve, rose, sage, and cream tones because these colors photograph beautifully and do not distract from the main focus, the families themselves!

How to prepare for your DC family photo session

4. Pack snacks/toys for your DC family photo session.

Bringing snacks and toys for the little ones will help if they need a break at some point. After I photograph the entire family together, I usually will take smaller group shots. If your little one needs some time to reset, break open a snack or toy, and your photographer may be able to work with others in your family. And if you need tips to get your little ones to smile, check these out!

5. Celebrate afterwards!

Getting the whole family together for a family photo session takes a lot of planning and preparation, so treat yourselves to something fun afterwards. It can be something as simple as lollipops for the kids or going out for a family breakfast. Sometimes a little incentive goes a long way with little ones, too!

Mother, father, and their two young children standing in front of the US Capitol building during a DC family photo session.

Best of luck with your DC family photo session!

It is always an honor to serve as your Washington DC Family Photographer. I provide a custom, luxurious experience to lead you every step of the way, beginning with a planning guide to make you feel confident and prepared, a consultation to achieve your portrait goals, a client wardrobe, hair and make-up artists, and finally, artwork to adorn your walls and preserve your memories forever. Let me be a part of your story today.

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