We’re coming up quick to the busiest time of the year for family photos: September! Fall is by far the most popular season for family photography sessions. People love the cooler air, nicer sunlight earlier in the evening, fewer mosquitoes and pretty colours in the trees.

But for a lot of moms (and dads too) the task of planning a photo shoot can be super daunting.

Over the last 15 years of taking family photos for my clients, I’ve found the following planning tips to be really helpful:

1) Determine what type of vibe you want to capture.

  • Do you want casual, candid portraits?
  • Do you want formal, posed photos?
  • Do you want a nature or architectural background?
  • Do you want photojournalistic, storytelling photos or a more formal and directed shoot?

Once you know that, pick a location that suits the vibe. Your photographer knows locations REALLY well so ask their advice based on the look you’re going for. (I have a long list of my favourite Winnipeg locations with example photos which I send to you during the booking process.)

2) Determine how many photos you want.

  • Do you just need four or five photos to print a Christmas card?
  • Do you need a well-rounded collection of images to fill frames, print holiday cards and add to your annual family photo album?
  • Do you need 100+ photos so that you can keep and cherish every little moment from the photo shoot?

Once you know how many photos you need, you can pick a mini session or a full session. If you’re not sure, a mini session or half-session is a good option because you can always order extra photos if you change your mind after you review the gallery of proofs.

(I only offer mini sessions on three select dates every year. Join my e-mail list to be the first one to know when a date is announced.)

3) Decide what you’ll wear.

This might be THE most stressful part! My best advice is to start early and not leave this to the last minute.
Start by picking out an outfit for the hardest person in the group. If there are prints or patterns in this first outfit, make sure the next outfits you add have mostly solid colours in the same colour scheme or tone. At all costs, avoid logos, distracting graphics or really bright colours.

You also want to make sure your outfits fit the location. If you’re wearing really formal wear in a casual park setting where there’s lots of adventuring through the woods or sitting on the ground in tall grass, that dress shirt and tie or cocktail dress might look out of place. In the same way, if you’re wearing really casual athletic wear in a location that has funky architecture or an artistic flare, this might not make sense.

And finally – don’t wear a new article of clothing for the first time at a photo shoot. You may be surprised at how uncomfortable or ill-fitting an outfit feels. If you feel uncomfortable, it’s hard to hide that in your face! I recommend wearing your outfit at least once before so that you are sure that you like how you look and how it makes you feel.

4) Prioritize golden hour, but not at the expense of your kids’ moods.

Yes, you want good light for your outdoor photos (and that’s usually the 2nd hour after sunrise or the 2nd hour before sunset), but if that’s close to bed time for your kids, it’s not worth it! Although brighter parts of the day may not be ideal for photos, I can help find locations that have shade from the sun if you want to make sure the session ends before bedtime. It’s better to have smiles and happy toddlers than gorgeous lighting with cranky kids. Also, parents look and feel their best in photos when their kids are happy. 😉 (I can attest to that personally from my own photo shoots!)

I am now taking bookings for September family session spots. My most popular package is the 1-hour session, but I also offer mini sessions and piggy-back sessions. Contact me for more info, pricing or to book your spot!