How To Get The Most Out Of Your Family Photo Shoot {survival guide}

Avoid meltdowns, overcome shyness, and other top tips for getting the most out of your family photo shoot

get the most out of your family photo shoot

Most parents, myself included, have a little anxiety when it comes time for family photos.  It’s hard enough on a daily basis getting kids out the door, so the idea of getting everyone (yourself included) “camera-ready”…Oy vey, talk about an express ticket to stress city. I know your struggle! To help ease the process, I’ve come up with my top tips to get the most out of your family photo shoot (tested as both a mom AND  photographer).  

  1. When it comes time for your family session, stay positive.

    Ack, don’t hate me. I know this one can be tough but think happy thoughts.  So much of stress is the build-up. My sister is a master of this concept. She made flying solo with a two-month-old look like a trip to the grocery store. Time and again, I’ve seen her take on activities and adventures that would send me spirling with worry. So what’s her secret?  Some might call it naivete, but I call it good ol’ classic optimism. She just stays positive. Sure, even she loses her sh*t every now and then, but generally speaking, a good attitude is everything!get the most out of your family photo shoot

  2. Get ahead of HANGER. We all know the feeling. You’re stuck in a situation that you can’t just walk away from, but you’re starving. Ugh, it’s the worst.  It doesn’t matter how old you are, if you’re hungry, you’re probably going to turn into a raging toddler. Make sure to have yourself and your kiddos well fed before your pictures.  Oh, and don’t forget backup snacks. Think quick fixes like cereal, fruit snacks, grapes, pirates booty, or squeeze pooches. These are great choices because they can quickly elevate a drop in blood sugar AND they’re not too messy. 
  3. Don’t forget the wipes. Sometimes a spill is inevitable.  No stress! Photoshop can do wonders. If there is a wipeout in the dirt or food on shirt, it’s ok. Promise! Wipes are always great for on-the-go touch-ups (and running noses). 
  4. Embrace the chaos. This one is key to get the most out of your family pictures. As much as you can, try to go with the flow.  It’s like the Robert Burns poem says,  “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” We do what we can on the front-end to avoid meltdowns–planning around nap time, making sure everyone is well-fed, but sometimes things can be a little wild. It’s ok. Promise. I’m used to it. My son can be high energy with big emotions. Some days he’s super positive, then when the moon is full (or not, who knows really?) and all of a sudden he’s a mini-werewolf. It happens. get the most out of your family photo shoot
  5. Ride the wave.  That might mean changing course, nixing the “picnic on a blanket” pictures for a game of tag or taking a pause to reset. Try to stay open to “calling an audible” as they say in football and going with the flow if necessary.  On my end, I’ll always be mindful of doing what I can to get some “winner” shots within the first five minutes, so that if we do have to go a different direction, you’ll still have frame-worthy pictures. get the most out of your family photo shoot
  6. When it comes to family photos, let them be kids. I know the urge to feel so frustrated you want to throw in the towel. Just know that during this photoshoot, it’s ok to give your kid or kid(s) a little extra leash. If she jumps in a puddle of water and gets her pants wet, it’ll be ok.  In fact, the photos will probably be adorable. In the end, real life isn’t a perfect pose. It’s movement, play, and expression.
  7. Connect with your inner-child. You know those YouTubers your kiddo can’t get enough of? My theory is the appeal comes because those stars are stepping into the shoes of the children. The same magic happens during photoshoots. When you get down on their level, engaging in play and activities that the kids love and relate to, it shows in the laughter and smiles that result. get the most out of your family photo shoot
  8. What about getting the most out of your family photoshoot in the face of shyness or defiance? Everyone has different levels of comfort with new people. The same can be said about having your picture taken. So what do you do when your kiddo is shy or objects altogether to the idea?  I could write an entire post on this topic. But for now, I’ll list the most important ways to help your child feel comfortable. 

get the most out of your family photo shoot

  • Talk with your photographer beforehand to come up with a game-plan. If your concerned your child will be too shy or hard to wrangle, a chat with your photographer about strategy can be super helpful.
  • Bring something from home.  This might mean a favorite toy, stuffed animal, or play item along. You can always start with it in some of the pictures, then once they’re feeling more at ease, sneak it away. 
  • Start off slow. If a child is shy, I like to get down on eye level, Introduce myself and do something to  “break the ice.” This might mean letting them take a picture of me or their parents with my camera (with help, of course) or simply walk for a few minutes before we start taking pictures.
  • Consider the setting. For shy children, I recommend places that aren’t too busy or overwhelming, like your home or a nearby park. Ask your photographer if they know of any spots that are more private if you’re looking to get out of your neighborhood. For the more active child, this can also be helpful. A place where they can run, jump, play while still being “safe and contained” can be huge. Nature preserves are one of my favorite settings for active kids. They have lots of room to explore along a path that feels safe, unlike a crowded park. 
  • Incentivize. Give your son or daughter something to look forward to as a reward. Ice cream or a special treat for a special occasion like this can be super helpful. 
  • Music. I often use music during my photoshoots. Dancing pictures are super cute and hearing a favorite song can be really helpful. 

In the end, remember, real life isn’t a perfect pose. It’s movement, play, and expression. Sometimes the most dynamic pictures are the ones that happen when we just let it all go. 

Want to see from the blog?  Check out these featured family sessions below:

Interested in taking your own family photos? Contact me today here, call 402-304-4057 or email I’d love to hear from you!

Millenium Park family photos with the Linds

A playful family photo session at Millenium Park with the Linds

I’ve bee lucky to have photographed Hannah four times over the last three years–the first when she was just a few days old in St. Louis for her newborn session, then again during a trip to Chicago, and now recently at Millenium Park in downtown Chicago. 











ium Park.  I can’t believe how big she is now!  When I first met her, she was only five pounds!  She’s grown into the sweetest, most charming little girl.  I loved every minute snapped pictures of her as she twirled through Millennium Park with her parents, John and Claudia in toe.

Kerry and Dan Married // Elawa Farm Wedding Photos

Elawa Farm Wedding Photos

On a perfect day in Lake Forest, at the same church, Kerry was baptized, she and Dan said “I do” before their dearest friends and family.

Following the ceremony, the couple celebrated at Elawa Farm, a place chosen because it reminded them of Northern Michigan, where they first fell in love.

Congrats to Kerry and Dan!!  I’m so happy for you two! I can’t wait to see our family again for your sister Megan’s wedding!





























































A snowy proposal at Millennium Park

Captured: Chicago proposal photography at Millennium Park by Rife Ponce Photography.

On a beautiful, snowy Sunday in downtown Chicago Mauricio knelt down on one knee to propose to his sweet girlfriend Katie. With a smile as wide as the sky overhead, Katie said yes! I felt so lucky to share in this moment, so beautiful and love filled. Chicago proposal photographyChicago proposal photographyChicago proposal photographyChicago proposal photographyChicago proposal photography
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The Quinns 2014 holiday card photoshoot

It was such a blast hanging with the Quinns again for their 2014 family holiday card photography. I love these kids!! We had so much fun during their shoot– playing games, jumping (sometimes on each other), telling stories, and even dipping our feet in the water! With three kids all walking age, their parents and I decided a classic posed portrait was not in the cards.  Instead we encouraged Tom, Connor, and Grace to do what they do best and I focused on capturing these candid moments! 

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Laura and Earl’s at Seven Bridges Golf Club

Laura and Earl were married in a small intimate ceremony on the beach in California and celebrated their nuptials with a reception at Seven Bridges Golf Club in Woodridge, IL.   The couple LOVE to laugh and have fun, which can be seen in these pictures.  They’re joyous spirits are contagious!  It was such a pleasure to be their photographer! Big thanks to Braxton Black, my second photographer who captured many great moments during the day!


A beautiful engagement session at the Skokie Lagoon

Dominika and Matt’s engagement session was took place at the magical Skokie Lagoons. In the golden afternoon light, we started off using Matt’s Cobra for our first location. What a beaut! It was so fun to incorporate the car into their session, they looked phenomenal with it! From there, we walked into the woods. The sunlight caste warmth across the tall prairie grass. At the top of the knoll, they unpacked a picnic and cheers over a glass of wine. It was a stunning evening!  I’m so looking forward to their nuptials next May!   




The Schuster Family Photo Session

I’ve heard it said that being around children is like a dose of therapy. In a single smile or a string of laughter, suddenly they  can make us feel five years younger and mentally ten pounds lighter. This recent family portrait session was just that for me!  I had a ball with the Schuster boys. I caught their smiles, leaving the shoot, not wanting it to be over yet. Chicago family portrait photography

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Off to get married!

Thanks for visiting my blog!  I’m getting married this Saturday, September 8th 2012, so I won’t be posting between now and the end of my honeymoon (the 25th of September). To all my past brides, thank you for your lovely examples, and future bride, I look forward to talking with you as soon as I return!  All the best,