fine art family photographer

I would like to share with you my top 5 secrets for creating beautiful family photos. The process of making stunning images start well before the actual session. As such, this post shares the secrets that will help you to set your session up for success prior to your actual session.

mariana de albuquerque beautiful family photos

Secret #1: Make sure your children are happy

My main purpose is to create a collection of images that are timeless and meaningful while ensuring a stress-free, enjoyable experience for both parents and children. 

Therefore, happy children are my top main priority.

And to achieve this goal we need to ensure that your children are well-rested and fed. As you know well, episodes of separation anxiety, tantrums, and the not-so-adorable-toddler naughtiness tend to happen when children are tired and ready for their nap, and/or close to mealtime. 

Yes, I love a good crying image. Young children can be so loud and expressive. But we shouldn’t make our children ‘suffer’ for us to get beautiful family photos. Instead, we want them to have fun, show their true personality, explore, cuddle, play, say funny things, and show off all those precious milestones. 

So, when planning the logistics of your session, here are the key two things to consider:

  • Where and when your children will be most cheerful? 
  • What are the activities that light them up (and parents also enjoy)? 

But no worries – we will go together all of this information in details during the planning stage.

Secret #2: Schedule your outdoor session with beautiful light as a priority

If you want an outdoor session, please keep in mind that we need to take light into consideration when we schedule your session. Light is at the heart of beautiful family photos!

Therefore, light is my second top priority.

The light I photograph during outdoor sessions is soft and directional. And this is best achieved early in the morning or at sunset. This light will give the glow and softness to your images. 

Mid-day sun creates a light that is harsh, contrasty, and unflattering. Whereas there are many ways to photograph in the mid-day sun, including photographing with film as I do, I prefer to avoid it altogether if possible. Especially in the summer due to the very high temperatures in the South of France.

So, if you opt for an outdoor session, it is important to consider when they will take place: early in the morning (8 or 9 am), or 1-2h before sunset. 

Because sunset is so late in June-July in France, I suggest summer sunset sessions for families who already have a late bedtime routine or those with children ages 3+. For families with babies and toddlers who would like a sunset session, it is best to book for the early spring or late fall, so we can schedule your session in the late afternoon. However, there might be the need to adjust your daily routine to ensure your children are well-rested and fed for the session.

Secret #3: Choose the right location for your family 

An outdoor photo session is a great option for families who live in a dark/small apartment or house. Or, families who love greenery, have children who love running and exploring and prefer a mix of portraits and storytelling images. But they might require more adjustments to your family’s routine to ensure that we can meet both priorities: happy children + beautiful light. 

An in-home session is the most flexible option for families with babies and toddlers as we can work around your children’s sleep schedule vs. you working around the session starting time. And your home is where your children will feel the most comfortable. Plus, if you believe that everyday challenges with your baby/toddler might become an issue, such as teething, not sleeping through the night, or an irregular nap schedule, then I strongly recommend an in-home session.

During the planning phase, I’ll ask you to fill out a questionnaire, so I can help you decide which location is the best for your family.

But if you’d like to start considering your location options in more details, I wrote a whole blog post that highlights the differences between an in-home vs. an outdoor family session. You can read it here.

fine art family photographer

Secret #4: Connect with your family

My images are all about connection and showing off all the love you share for one another. Connection is a key ingredient to beautiful family photos.

As such, it is essential that you arrive for your family session feeling connected to each other. Because I can’t photograph family connection if it is not really there at the time of the session. 

It is normal to feel a little nervous in the days and hours leading up to a professional family photo session. And anxiety or high energy might result in unwanted tension in the home. Your children can easily feel your energy (positive or negative) and will respond to it. 

To prevent tension and allow space for connection, I highly recommend the following:

  • Book your complimentary pre-session call with me so we can go over all of the details ahead of time and help ease all the nerves
  • Choose or purchase the outfits at least one week before the session and have the outfits and bags ready to go the day before your session
  • Do something special the day or evening before your session that will help everyone feel connected. Anything counts, including simple things like going out for ice cream, a board game night, having family takeout dinner, or just drinking a special bottle of wine with just you and your partner

Secret #5: Be intentional about the colors of the outfits you choose

Your outfit choice makes a huge difference in your final set of images. It certainly helps us to create those beautiful family photos you envision.

While I go into all the details in the Welcome Guide I share with families during the planning phase of our process, the single best advice I can give you is to choose the right colors. 

Did you know the colors of your outfit can affect your skin tone and the overall look and feel of your images?

So, my best advice is to opt for neutral tones or muted colors. They are flattering, timeless, and easy to coordinate. It is better to avoid bold colors and patterns, and outfits with large logos or drawings. 

Final words

I hope these secrets help you feel better prepared for your family session. I can’t wait to work together and capture your family’s unique stories in a meaningful and timeless way. 

If you’d like to read more about the secrets to make beautiful family photos during your session, I invite you to read this post.