Personal Lessons in Family Photo Sessions from an Expert

follow Neyssa Lee

I am Neyssa Lee a Seattle area photographer, mom of 6, planning obsessed, and who help you see the beauty, love and joy, in your own family’s chaos. I also use my super power of time management to help fellow photographers take control of their businesses. Learn more by heading to my ABOUT ME page.

What to Wear
Photo Tips
more categories

Hi, I'm Neyssa

Avoid making the mistakes I made one year for my own family photo session. My top family photo session lessons just may help you have a better family photo session.

Every year I take time out to have another photographer take my own family’s photos. To me, it is just as important for me to get in front of the lens. I want to exist in photos with my family and I know another photographer can capture our family dynamics better than just placing my camera on a tripod. 

It also serves as a great reminder for me as a photographer, what it is like to be on the other side of the lens. It helps me be a better photographer to experience firsthand what the families I photograph experience.

But it’s confession time. One fall I had a big dose of reality and learned a few priceless lessons. Today I’m sharing in hopes that you can learn from my mistakes.

Family portrait for a lesson on sessions

The first family photo session lesson was that I scheduled my family session too late in the year.

Fall is a busy time of year, and it got away from me. I kept putting off my own family photos and ended up feeling rushed to get them done in time for Christmas cards and gifts. Just feeling rushed added to my stress, which I know my family felt.

Lesson learned:

Each year I will put my family photo session a priority and schedule earlier in the year.

How does this family photo session lesson apply to you? Do you keep putting off booking your session? Or do you find fall to be too busy fo your family? Try scheduling earlier in the year. Summer not only has better weather, but families are typically less busy. Make your family photo session a priority this year, learn from my photo session lesson!

Family Photo Session Lessons example of North Bend family photos

Next, I stressed too much about the details.

Hoping to replace a wall of canvases in my home, I wanted everything to be “perfect.” I had chosen different outfits for my kids several times. Not to mention, I kept trying to pick clothes for myself that weren’t my style at all. This family photo session lesson was a big one for me.

As I mentioned above letting my worry over wearing the perfect outfit was felt by my family and upped everyone’s anxiety.

Family photo session lesson learned:

Listening to my own advice of keeping to outfits that I not only feel comfortable in but are true to our style will help me as I plan ahead next year for what we will wear.

Trust me. Your family photos will be beautiful because they are of YOUR family, not because you picked boho dresses or some other trendy outfit. When you are comfortable in what you are wearing, it will show on camera. So learn the lesson from my family photo session and avoid all the stress. Stick with things that fit you, even if that means jeans and a cute top!

Mother and kids at Rattlesnake Lake for family photos

A big family photo session lesson was that I did not have enough layers to keep my kids warm.

The day of our session came and it was beautiful, but freezing cold and really windy. Although I had warm layers for my kids, they were not enough. My daughter was so cold she kept crying and hiding her face. Confession, even I was freezing.

I knew it was November, and even a sunny day would be cold. I am now the extra prepared mama for family photos, a great lesson learned.

Lesson Learned:

Be over-prepared for the weather. Hats, gloves, and mittens don’t hurt to have. If you don’t use them no big deal, but they can be a lifesaver. Warm kids are happy kids. (Fed kids are happy kids too, but that family photo session lesson is for another day!)

Family of 6 at Rattlesnake Lake for family photos

Most of all, I did not trust my photographer.

This was my biggest mistake right here. My session felt chaotic (which should be expected. I have FOUR young children) and I left feeling defeated. All I could think was how I had spent all this time stressing for nothing.  I could not imagine how Megann, our photographer, captured anything at all. I even started planning how I would have to do another family session.

Lucky for me, shortly after our session she texted me a few sneak peeks of the back of her camera. She could tell I was stressed and she assured me it was okay. When I got my gallery I was blown away. She captured us, she captured my beautiful family’s chaos despite the cold, wind, and tears.

Lesson Learned: Trust in your photographer. 

Don’t make the mistake for your family photo session, learn this lesson from me!

You hire a photographer not just as someone to push a button, but to actually SEE your family. It may feel chaotic, in fact, it WILL feel chaotic. But that is real life. The images captured will be truly treasured.

I really learned my lessons from this family photo session. I had a nice dose of humble pie and reminders of all of the reasons family photos matter, and what is important for having a great photo session.

Despite my craziness and stressing out, it all turned out. The images captured are ones I truly treasure. I not only had one family photo to hang on the wall, but I created a wall display of SEVEN canvases. 

Mother and baby at Rattlesnake lake in fall for family photos

I learned many lessons from that year’s family photo session. Moving forward I will be following the advice I give mothers who book a session with me – just embrace the chaos and love on your family and leave the rest to me. 

Ready to embrace your chaos? Let’s chat about how you can learn from my mistakes and have an awesome family session with me. Contact me to book your session.

Looking for regular tips to make the most of your session? Subscribe to my newsletter just for families who want to have stress-free family photo sessions.

*All images of my family here were taken by the talented Megann Robinson.