Lovely and Light by Hayley Lawrence » Charlotte NC Contemporary Portrait & Headshot Photographer

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5 Tips for Successful Family Photos

5 Tips for Successful Family Photos by Lovely & Light

Top image – Inevitably, when the kids cooperate, the parents are caught telling them to smile.

Bottom image – When you “just go with it,” this beautiful moment happens!

Tip 1: PUT ON YOUR HAPPY FACE! Sometimes I will ask everyone to look at one another and interact. Otherwise, [parents] keep looking at the camera and smile, no matter what the kids do. If you are too concerned with what the kids are doing, you may have an undesirable look on your face when they finally cooperate (of course, right?).  This means that I have to shoot longer to get “the shot” or worse, we don’t get it and I have to do “head swaps,” which cost extra. Pretend you’re on a beach and be happy, mon!

Tip 2: BE FLEXIBLE. Despite the time, energy and money you have put into the session, there is usually a curveball. Expect scratches on faces the day before the session, clothes getting dirty, pouting, sibling arguing, crying and all of the above. In my experience, when parents start threatening to take away after-session treats or start bribing, things go downhill quickly. Let me take charge and make a complete fool of myself to get the kids in line.

Tip 3: FORGET THE MANNERS. In addition to tip #2, treat your session as an exception to your rules. Having photographed thousands of kids, I have some tricks to get the reaction I want. Some of those tricks include making fart noises, talking about diapers and boogers and letting kids make fun of me behind my back. This is how I build trust with kids, so I apologize in advance if the rest of your day is spent hearing “booger face” on account of me!

Tip 4: BE PREPARED. You probably have these things with you anyway, but please remember to bring the disaster kit. This includes, diapers, wipes, a change of clothing, SNACKS and favorite toys (it’s ok if these end up in the photos).

Tip 5: DON’T MATCH – COORDINATE. You want to show that your family has personality, so dress that way! My clients usually dress in coordinating neutrals for a timeless look. Check out my Pinterest boards for inspiration on what to wear and the casual look you can expect for Spring sessions, Fall sessions, newborn sessions and family sessions.

I hope these 5 tips for family photos helps you prepare for your next session. To schedule yours, email me at


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