I want to walk you through planning your family session.

What should you do to become more prepared for a family photo session? I don't mean just for you, but for the entire family. Let's talk about a few things. Who is your photographer going to be? How do you feel about rewards? Where will you have your photos done? Should you practice smiling? What should you wear? All great questions. Read on about some ideas I have for you.

Find the photographer that fits your needs and has the style your are looking for.

Do you have a photographer picked out? If not, search online, Instagram, Facebook, ask friends for any recommendations they can give for a family photographer. When you have those referrals, get on the websites of those photographers and scroll around for a bit. Learn their style. Decide if this is what you are looking for, or if it is not. This may sound like a no brainer, but you would be surprised at how many people want to plan family photos, but don't know where to start. This first step is simple, but you do want to do a little research so you are finding a photographer you are going to like and produce the photos you will love.

Some kids feel uncomfortable or weird meeting a complete stranger and then be expected to be a part of a session. I get that. This is why I suggest hopping onto your photographer's Facebook or Instagram accounts and show your kids a picture of them. Tell them this is who will be the photographer for your family session coming up soon. This will help them be more comfortable and maybe even excited about about the upcoming session.

It is great if your photographer can provide a meet and greet video for your kids.

Something else I have tried to incorporate is a little meet and greet video I send to my client before photos. I want them to feel like they have met me before we actually meet in person. This may seem little, but it might just be the step that helps kids feel comfortable and cooperate for you photos.

I recommend having a reward for you kids after photos.

I highly recommend having some sort of reward for your kids after family photos. You want this to be a positive experience and I think going home to play their favorite board game, going to a playground, or going out for ice cream is well deserved. I am not saying this needs to be a bribe, but I am saying if you tie in a favorite activity with this family photo experience, they are going to link this to a positive experience. Not only will they have a good time, but in the next years to come it will be linked to their favorite things to do. The idea here is to help your kids want to be there doing photos.

If you need suggestion on location, ask your photographer.

Choosing a location can be super simple. Maybe you know exactly where you want to go and that was the easy part of planning your photo session. If you haven't a clue, reach out to your photographer. They should know of several places in the area to take your family photos. I actually wrote a blog post about my favorite locations in or near Ellensburg.

Once you have decided on a location, if you haven't actually been there, go there. Plan a time before family photos and take your family there. Not only will this be a great family activity, but this will help your kids to be familiar with the location and maybe find their favorite spot to play.

Tickle and snuggle your kiddos to practice for photos.

I am a lifestyle photographer. Hopefully you know this by now. So I really only do a few photos where I ask everyone to look at me. Most of my photos will be of your family interacting with each other.

You may wonder if you should tell your kids to practice smiling. How I would approach the smiling situation is like this...sit on the couch, snuggling your kiddo and if the time is right, give them a little tickle. Naturally, they will laugh or smile some. When they do, tell them how you wish you could catch the beautiful/handsome face in a photo. Then go on to say how that is your favorite smile of theirs. It is contagious and genuine. If you wanted to take it a step further, you could say, "see you just made me smile." Tell them about family photos and how this moment is going to be just like family photos, except you will be all dressed up.

I actually want to capture all types of emotions during a family photo session. Some of my favorite photos are when there are no smiles.

Lifestyle photography lowers the stress you may feel at your session.

Now as a photographer, I want a family photo session to be as stress free as possible. Just know that having a lifestyle approach, this should help lower the stress you may feel at a session. Read more about my lifestyle approach here.

I want to see your kids exploring and talking with you. I want to see hugging and playful interactions. I bounce back and forth between guiding you through a natural pose to opening it up for a little freedom. We definitely play the session by ear and go with the flow of the session. I don't want to make anyone feel like they are constantly being told what to do. I find that they are more willing to cooperate if they have a little freedom. Besides, if they aren't constantly being asked to smile at the camera, they can have meaningful connections with family, I capture that, and everyone is happy.

Click my link below for what to wear.

Such a popular question, right? Well, I am not going to spend too much time talking about it here, because I have a whole other blog post about this very topic. Click WHAT TO WEAR. Go check it out!

Okay, I truly hope this was helpful and you feel more prepared for your family photo session!