picture day tips for family photos in the Seattle area

Picture Day Tips: Have a Smooth Family Photo Session

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I am Neyssa Lee a mother of six, who is planning obsessed, and uses photography to help you see the beauty in your own family’s chaos. Learn more by heading to my ABOUT ME page.

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picture day tips for family photos in the Seattle area

Do you have an upcoming family photo session? These picture day tips will help you prepare for your session so that you can relax.

As a Seattle family photographer, I strive to make you feel comfortable during your session. When you are comfortable you can relax, which will show in your photos. However, I know, first hand, that feeling prepared reduces stress, too.

I truly believe that photos should be a fun experience with your family. That is why I provide ample information to help each family I work with prepare for their session.

So let’s dive into these picture day tips.

The first tip is actually about what you do before your session day.

Family photo of family of five in the Snoqualmie Pass mountains

Try on clothes (and shoes) ahead of time.

This picture day tip comes from first hand experience!

If you’re anything like me, you set aside outfits until the very last minute. The last thing you want is your kids to get a stain on the shirt you had planned for photos.

One year, I had purchased brand new dresses* for my girls. I did not try them on the girls until a few hours before photos. Big mistake. I found that the toddler dress ran small and it was a TIGHT fit on her. As a strong-willed 1.5 year old, there was no convincing her to wear the dress. I found myself scrambling and changing two kid’s outfits. I was lucky I had a back up plan.

Learn from me and try those clothes on your kids a week in advance. Make it fun, offer a treat for practicing the photo outfits. If they fit beautifully, wonderful. Rest easy knowing you are prepared. If not, you still have time to get something that fits better.

Remember to try shoes on your kids, too. I have seen it too many times where parents cut tags off a pair of shoes in the parking lot. They then find the shoes are too big and their kid can hardly walk in them. An uncomfortable kid is not one who wants to play and have fun.

Picture day tip for family photos in water

The next picture day tip is to avoid an overly busy day.

Your family photo session should be your fun, end of day adventure. It should not be just another task on your list of things to do that day. Keep the day calm and relaxed best you. Then your kids (and you and your partner) are refreshed and ready for fun.

Family photos at Gold Creek Pond by Neyssa Lee Photography

Another picture day tip is to plan to arrive 15 to 20 minutes early at the location.

Remember that story I told you about not trying on outfits up above? That same year, we hit traffic and my 3 year old had to use the bathroom on the way. We found ourselves frantically searching for somewhere to stop for him. Fortunately, I had planned in a buffer of time and we arrived on time to our session.

Sessions are scheduled based on light. Typically your session will start 1 hour before sunset. This means there is little wiggle room if you arrive late. You not only will start feeling a bit frazzled from being late, but you also will be cutting into the amount of time we can photograph your family.

So plan on arriving early in case of traffic, parking issues, or bathroom stops. If you are going to dress your kids at the location, plan to arrive even earlier. (And if you have kids in diapers, dressing your kids at the location is a great idea).

This next picture day tip is the most important one of all.

three portraits of a girl

During your session let go of your expectations.

You have booked your session, planned outfits, dressed everyone, gotten to the location. The hard part is done. Now you relax and let me focus on photographing your family beautifully and authentically. When you trust in me and let go of expectations the session will go much smoother.

Letting go is hard at times. I get it. You want your kids to “behave.” You want beautiful photos. But when you are stressed, trying to control the situation, asking your kids to sit up straight and smile perfectly at the camera, the stress will show in your photos.

Yet, when you let go of expectations magic can happen.

Let me tell you one more story.

I have photographed a family for over 10 years. They know they will get photos they love. Yet each time I deliver their gallery the dad says, “I thought this was the year you didn’t get anything, but these are amazing!”

What he means is that having photos taken with me doesn’t feel like you’re getting photos. The session feels fluid, playful, dare I say “chaotic”. When you are used to stiff posed and saying “cheese” at the camera, this will feel foreign to you. Yet, remember we aren’t after perfectly posed but beautiful joy.

Following thees picture day tips help you have a smoother family photo session.

Which is your favorite tip to try this year?

Looking for more picture day tips? Subscribe to my newsletter for families. Get first dibs on session dates and special events, plus regular tips to help you prepare for your session and use your photos. 

Plus, jump into another blog all about family photos. There’s topics like what to wear, location ideas and more. And keep scrolling below for more photos from the featured family photo session.

Seattle family photographer picture day tips, playful family photos at Snoqualmie pass
Seattle family photographer, playful family photos at Snoqualmie pass
Seattle family photographer, playful family photos at Snoqualmie pass
Photo of mother and daughter in beautiful light
Picture day tips for Husband and wife at Gold Creek Pond
Picture day tips, Family looking over Gold Creek Pond during family photos
Group of family photos taken by Neyssa Lee Photography

*external links in this post contain affiliate links. I only share links for favorite things, my family uses and enjoys. I appreciate your extra support by using my referral links.

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