Ten Tips for a Great Photo Session

You’ve scheduled your session, now what?  How can you increase your chances of getting the perfect pictures?  The simple answer is rest and communicate with your photographer.  Below are 10 tips that will help you prepare for your session and get those perfect portraits.


  1. Communicate with the photographer before the session.  Let your photographer know your goals for the session.  What is the most important photo you would like to have?  Is it the family?  a specific child or group?  a sleeping baby?  the baby’s open eyes? those missing front teeth? The more your photographer understands what’s important to you the better.
  2. Rest before your session.  Get a good night’s sleep.  Make sure toddlers have napped before the session.  This is probably the most important tip in this list.
  3. Bring props.  Is there something that is special to you, your child or your family? Bring it along!  Some of my favorite pictures are of my child with his favorite stuffed animal and our family with my grandmother’s handmade afghan.  If you like a prop you’ve seen in another picture, let your photographer know well in advance and she may be able to find it.  Props are not necessary but are welcome.  Again, let the photographer know your prop preferences prior to the session.
  4. Tickle the toddler.  With toddlers, parents are often needed to coax smiles.  This can be done through physical interaction or favorite toys… you know your baby best.  Many toddlers have stranger anxiety.  Mom or dad can really be an asset with them.  It is important that only one adult is giving directions at any time to avoid confusion with little ones.
  5. Kids just want to have fun, too. It is our nature as moms to push our kids when we know they can give better smiles, but doing so rarely works.  Your photographer has special tricks that usually result in great smiles through fun.  Stand back and let the magic happen.  Don’t panic if you don’t see a perfect smile immediately.  Many children require several minutes to warm up to their surroundings and strangers.
  6. Plan your wardrobe and look.  Matching outfits are fine, but a little coordinating contrast can also be good.  Search the internet for clothing ideas for inspiration.  Bold solids work well with most sessions.  Simple patterns can work with simple backdrops, but should be avoided in general.  If hair is important to you, try to schedule a haircut and/or color appointment about 2 weeks before your photo session.  Check out my “What to Wear” Board on Pinterest or my fellow photographer’s blog for more tips on clothing under “What to Wear” on the main website.
  7. If you see something you don’t like speak up.   During the session, if you see something that bothers you, let the photographer know.  Is your child’s hairbow slipping?  Do you dislike the blanket being used for ground cover?  Are you worried about that your elbows will look fat?  It is easier to fix those issues during the session than after.  Everyone has different tastes and priorities so, again, communication is the key.
  8. Choose a timeless location or schedule multiple sessions.  Does your family get 5 new pictures every year or one portrait every 5 years?  The answer to this question makes a difference in the location you should choose.  If you are going to have one shoot, keep your background meaningful but simple.  Pick something that will not get old as it hangs on your living room wall for years to come.  If you will be scheduling multiple sessions each year, it is fine to go with the edgy backgrounds or themes.  Pick something that reflects your family’s or child’s personality.  Remember in most cases, YOU should be the focus of your photo, not the location.
  9. Keep that mole?  Hide that blemish?   Most people are self conscious about something.  Do you love your child’s freckles or your beauty mark?  Is that scratch your child got the day before the session bugging you?  Let the photographer know so that facial traits will be kept or deleted in the editing process.
  10. Have fun.  You are more likely to smile naturally if you relax and enjoy the shoot.  Let your mind wander to happy places.  Enjoy the moment.  🙂

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