Family Session Guide session information, preparation and tips on rocking your session for families

Hey you! You've booked a session... Now what?

I love photographing families! Being able to capture special moments, the love that family members have for each other and bringing images that show your story is incredible. This session guide is important in that it will ensure your session and experience will be everything you expect plus more. Please take some time to read through it. I promise it won't be terrible ;)

Session Booking

  1. Be sure you've paid a deposit to secure a date. A session is not added to the calendar until this is complete.
  2. Sign the digital contract. It's super simple to do straight on your desktop (will also work on some mobile devices)
  3. I will be in contact with you getting closer to the session day to firm up a location and time (I work around the sun. Great lighting = great images)
  4. Once you've completed all of the boring stuff now it's time to read the fun stuff below!

What to Wear

  • First and most importantly, make sure you are comfortable in whatever you wear and that it’s something that wouldn’t surprise anyone looking at your pictures because it’s “just not you”. We want to capture you and your authentic personality, not just your face in someone else’s clothes.
  • That being said, styling and great clothing choices are essential elements for any session. When choosing clothing, incorporate colour, layering and texture.
  • *START by picking 1 main outfit (this could be mom's or one of the children). This outfit will likely have the most pattern or colours. That floor length floral dress you never get to wear? Start from there. Visualize the outfit as a whole (shoes, jewels, accessories etc..) Then coordinate all of the other outfits from the main one. Less is more.
  • Avoid logos... I mean it! ;)
  • Make sure the clothes are free of wrinkles.
  • If you want to email me images of clothing that you’re thinking of wearing or purchasing, please feel free to do so. I actually love when clients do this as it helps me visualize the way I will photograph.
  • What do your dream photos look like? Are they are soft and elegant? Choose neutral colors with soft fabrics…. think creams, very soft pastels, oatmeals, light browns, tans, grays, jewel tones and slate blues.
  • Want to showcase the fun and spunky side of your family? This is a great time to do so. Not over doing it is key! Coordinating colours is a MUST. Using 1 colour throughout is a no no. For example everyone wearing red shoes and red shirts or dark jeans and white shirts.
  • Choose coordinating colors (but not "matchy matchy" with everyone in the same outfit) with accent patterns, textures or colours. Using different hues of the same colour is a great way to do this.
  • If the whole clothing and styling thing feels overwhelming, pick up a fashion magazine, google “couples/engagement/friends portraits”, or my favourite PINTEREST! Check out outfits, colour schemes and family sessions. Create a vision board and share it with me!
  • Layering is an awesome way to add texture, movement and can look like multiple different sessions. Layers work well for example: taking off a jacket, a hat, or a scarf can change the look of a photo completely.
  • Wear make up as you normally would, you can apply a little extra but be careful that you still feel yourself and not trying to achieve a look that doesn't feel like YOU or makes you uncomfortable. This is also a great time to have your make up done professionally, you deserve it!
  • Accessorize: For the ladies, some bling might be just the thing …. Think shiny thick bangles and bracelets, your big stella and dot necklace you never get to wear, a pretty scarf. For men, a hip leather/jean jacket, a great simple long sleeve, button down (but not starched stiff) rolled up at the cuffs, tails out. A toque, a cool fedora, a funky wool hat, a knit textured scarf is a great finishing touch for any one.
  • Dad's: A white tee-shirt and a pair of nicely worn blue jeans is a timeless look that will never go out of style (just please don’t all wear it!)
  • Try to have either clean plain nails or a fresh manicure. Peeling/flaking nail polish is something a lot of people don't like in their images. Hands are something that I love to photograph (hands around the waist, touching your partners cheek etc..)
  • Leave plenty of time for showers, baths, dressing, and grooming. When a family shows up to a family photo session rushed and disorganized, it sets the tone for a rushed and disorganized session.
  • Give yourself extra time so that you are ready before it’s time to head out the door.
Here’s a color wheel with complimentary colors. Any colors with a line between them look lovely together!

The Session

You’re having your photo's taken! For some people, that thought is absolutely terrifying. And I get it! I don’t love being in front of the camera either. But whether you love having your photo taken or not, I want to make sure that we can make the best of your session, and that the images reflect you as you are. So remember these next few tips and I promise you’ll rock it!

1. Make it an all day fun event

You’re not going to be your cutest most genuine selves at the end of an errand-filled stressful day. So take it easy all day! Grab lunch together, relax together doing something you enjoy. That way, when we meet for the shoot, you’re filled with love and excitement for each other, instead of just crossing one thing off the to-do list. Let me capture you on your best day!

2. Forget we are doing a photoshoot

You’re not there for me. I’m there for you: to document your love as a family. The objective isn’t just to take pretty pictures. Its to capture an exciting stage in your life, while spending time together. Its very likely that the last time you got your picture taken “professionally” was for an awkward high school photo or for super posed family portraits. I promise you, it will be nothing like that. So forget the photos, and focus on enjoying the time!

3. Leave the extras at home (or in your car)

Leave the big bags, don’t worry about the extra stuff you might need. I want you to be light on your feet and easily mobile, because I will shoot all those little in-between moments. Extra props or bags tend to make spontaneous shooting more difficult, so minimalism is the way to go!

4. BE YOU!

Just be you! This seems obvious, but sometimes it’s tough to really commit to it. I want your dynamic to set the tone and mood of the shoot, not what you think a session should look like. Are you goofballs? Are you introverted? I want to experience all those little moments you might otherwise consider the “outtakes”. Don’t act like you think you should, I want to capture you as you are. The truest emotion is in the outtakes!

Don’t be afraid to pick up your children and toss them in the air. Give your wife a sweet kiss on the cheek. Tell your husband how much you love him and appreciate him for being there for your family. Have fun. Laugh. Giggle. Hug. Joke. Tell Secrets. Embrace. Kiss. Snuggle. Doing these things will allow me to capture the emotion and true beauty of your family. Leaving the stiff “cheese” faces for Aunt Betty at the next family reunion. Show me who you really are, so that I have the opportunity to capture your love and family’s story through my lens.

5. Do things you love

Do you love to read together? Bring some books. Is your favorite dessert ice cream? Bring some ice cream bars or drumsticks to your session or better yet… hire an ice cream truck to come to your session. Love to play board games or cards? Plan to play a round of Uno or Monopoly during your family photo session. Other ideas include: football, piggy back rides, races, bike riding, hiking, singing, picnics, the ideas are endless.


Please ensure everyone is well rested and well fed! Be certain not to schedule your photo session around your child’s nap or bedtime. The best time for outdoor lighting is the two hours before sunset and after sunrise, but if this is a bad time for your children, let me know and we will work something out. Please don’t arrive to the session on an empty stomach, and if necessary, bring some clean dry snacks/water.

Thank you for taking to the time to read this guide. I can't wait to capture your family!

If you have any additional questions please don't hesitate to reach out!

Created By
Jenna Buffett


Jenna Buffett Photography