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Hi, folks! I am SO excited for today’s guest post from my super-talented college friend, Jill. Jill is a mom to two little ones who are just about the same ages as my kids. Even though she lives up north near Philadelphia, Jill and I have had fun staying in touch over the years because we seem to have so much in common…especially when it comes to raising the kids! (She has even been the source of many great ideas and product suggestions that have found their way onto my “Stuff We Love” lists!).

Tips for Family Photos

I asked Jill to do a guest post today because she is an incredibly talented photographer. Anyone with young children knows how hard it is to get a baby/toddler/preschooler to pose for a camera…then try to capture an entire family and make them all look good at the same time! I would consider it an impossible task, yet somehow Jill manages to nail it every.single.time. Her family portraits are amazing, as you will soon see. 

Since many families are gearing up for their fall photo sessions (just in time for those Christmas cards!), I thought that it would be helpful to have Jill share a photographer’s advice on how to make the most of your time with a professional. Jill, take it away!

Schardt Family

Jill and Her Beautiful Family {Photo Credit: Pics & Giggles Photography}

It is almost fall family portrait time!!! My busiest and favorite time of year!

I understand all of the hard work involved for my clients, choosing outfits, getting kids to behave, and all of the behind-the-scenes effort that goes into planning one of these sessions. I have our family photo taken every year by my photographer friend www.picsandgiggles.com. I cherish these annual photos and I make them a priority each and every year!

So, as both a mom and a professional photographer, here are my Tips for a Successful and Stress Free Family Photo Session:

When to book you session?

Most photographers do not book fall or holiday sessions after Thanksgiving. Which means there are limited slots to get those family photos done before xmas cards need to go out. Most photographers are fully booked for fall sessions by the end of August, so if you are interested in a particular photographer email them in the summer to see when they will be booking their fall sessions, maybe they will put you on an email list or like their facebook page to make sure you are aware of when they release their dates. If they are in demand sometimes their sessions book up in a matter of days!

How to find a photographer?

Word. of. Mouth. Ask friends who they have used or maybe you have seen their portraits posted online. Facebook/twitter/social media can be your friend, throw out a request among your local friends for a photographer they would recommend. Look at the photographer’s website, their portfolio, make sure you like their style. If you don’t like what you see on their site don’t book them. I truly believe there is a photographer for everyone out there, also every photographer is not for every client. Take note of what type of photography they specialize in, is it newborn, senior, family, weddings, and some do it all. Also something to think about, does the photographer use mostly natural light or studio lighting, outdoor or indoor?

What to Wear?

You booked your date and your photographer and now what to wear? This is the most frequently asked question I receive from clients and this is what I typically tell them….

1)      Search the internet. With so much available online you can get inspiration from websites like www.pinterest.com, www.polyvore.com, or just go to your favorite store’s website to look at their new clothing lines. I do most of my shopping at Old Navy, they have adult fashions as well as kids clothes with coordinating outfits for great prices! Your photographer might also have a what to wear inspiration board for your inspiration. (https://www.pinterest.com/jschardt/what-to-wear/)

Jill Photo 1

2)      Start with a patterned shirt/dress/skirt. Try to pick something with at least three different colors in it. Hint: try to pick colors you would like in your house if you are looking to purchase prints to hang in your home. Don’t use a lot of patterned clothing together, build the other outfits around the patterned one.

3)      Neutrals. Don’t just use the colors in the patterned outfit. I tell clients to choose one neutral to carry throughout. Some examples are: navy, gray, tan, cream, or brown. Try to stay away from black and white, they typically don’t photograph that well.

4)      Layers. Once you establish the basic clothing items. Accessorize! Scarves, sweaters, necklaces, bows, vests are always good options.

Jill Photo 2

5)      Shoes. Be aware of what you are putting on your feet. Make sure everyone’s shoes look nice and they coordinate with the rest of the family.

6)      Shop in your closet first. Often you can find those neutral pieces in your own closet or kid’s closets. You might be surprised what you find!

7)      Hair. If you are shooting outdoors be ready to put hair up or out of the face (for girls) in case of a windy day.

8)      Tip: I also tell clients to remember you might be sitting on the ground and you are outside so plan your outfit accordingly.

Jill Photo 3

How do you prep kids for a successful shoot?

You have the photographer and the outfits, now what can you do beforehand to prep the family for your shoot?

1)      When choosing a time with the photographer, make sure you work around your child’s nap and feeding schedules.

2)      Let the kids know about the shoot in advance. Make it a special outing, maybe with a special treat of ice cream or a trip to pick out a toy afterward.

3)      Bribery is ok. Bring a treat for your kids in the car for right after the shoot! Some photographers will bring treats for the kids to choose from afterward, but not all of them will.

4)      Try to stay out of the photographers way. Let your photographer call the shots and direct your kids. Your job as a parent is to look at the lens and be ready to smile. I have taken so many photos where mom isn’t looking at the camera because she is busy adjusting her kids clothing or giving them directions. Let your photographer take charge and connect with your kids, they often listen better to another adult anyway!

5)      Try not to focus on the final product, try to enjoy the experience, it will show in your photos. I know photo shoots are stressful, especially for mom, but try to embrace that life isn’t perfect and don’t try to get the perfect photo! Let go of expectations….the perfect family photo may not necessarily be the one you envision…if you are relaxed your children will be too!!

Happy Shooting!

Jill Signature Jill Logo




Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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  1. Michele @ Alwayzbakin says:

    What a great post! Thanks for all the great advice. 😉

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Michele!

  2. Lauren says:

    Great ideas! I always stress out about what we should wear.

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Lauren! And thanks so much for stopping by. 🙂

  3. Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life says:

    Great advice. I always struggle with what to wear! I pinned this, because I know it will come in handy next time we do a family photo! Visiting from Treasure Box Tuesdays.

    1. Blair says:

      Hi, Michelle! That’s my problem, too. I’m always trying to figure out the clothing at the last minute. Better get started on that part of it for this year’s pics! 🙂

  4. Ashley @ PioneerMomma.com says:

    These are such awesome tips! Thanks for sharing, it will be featured in tonight’s What’d You Do This Weekend. Pinned and definitely storing these away to remember next time we take family photos 🙂

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Ashley! I appreciate the feature. 🙂

  5. Stephanie says:

    I really needed this article right now preparing for our Fall family pictures! Pinning now so I can refer back to it, thanks so much!!

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks so much, Stephanie! Glad that it was helpful. 🙂

  6. McKenzie says:

    Amazing advice! I love the suggestions about picking out what to wear and the colors! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Angela says:

    This is some great tips! So helpful, thank you for sharing.