It's a Family Affair - Getting the most out of a family photo shoot in Dorset

Remember the hideous family photos of old? Let's all wear matching flannel shirts and smile at the camera against a vinyl backdrop, printed with patchy clouds... It's the highlight of mum's year, and usually dad's and teens are dragged along for the ride, and bribed to force a smile (that never looks genuine) - But fear not, families! Family photo sessions are NOT what they used to be. I promise. I do all my family photo sessions outdoors in the beautiful Dorset countryside. They look far more natural, and I get much more genuine smiles and poses out of even the most reluctant family members.

I have a few tips that I pass on to all my family photo session clients to help with getting that perfect family photo. Simple but really effective.


Family photo shoots can feel awkward and unnatural if you're new to them. It's hard to know how to pose, or what smile to force, and you're always worried about everyone looking in the right direction at the right time with the right smile on their face.. But trust me, that's not necessary for the perfect family shot. Sometimes, the more relaxed images are the ones my clients want to buy, keep and frame. The ones where daddy is tickling his two year old and she's throwing her head back in a fit of giggles - or when the dog (yes, people bring their dogs very often) has rolled over and showed his belly to the camera in need of a good rub, and dad's pulling that "whose idea was it to bring the dog" face. Being outdoors makes everyone feel more relaxed, and children especially will find it easier in an outdoor environment. I'm really good at tricking children into looking in the right direction too!


Not just to bribe the toddler with, everyone could do with a water bottle, or one to share. Most of my sessions take place in the warmer months, and its' surprisingly thirsty work, pulling together a family photo session. If you are bringing snacks for the little ones, I'd recommend something non-chocolatey and also something they can pop in their mouths and not need to hold. Like raisins, small corners of biscuits or corn snacks. I cannot tell you how many bourbon biscuits (and subsequent chocolate filling) I've had to edit out of children's hands and clothes!


Of course you want everyone to look their best, but make sure you're all super comfortable. Not only in terms of the outfit your wearing, but the shoes on your feet too. Stick with items without large logos/branding Disney characters on them which can be really distracting and will date your photographs faster than anything else. If your child is fussing about wearing the dress you've spent the last three weeks waiting for to be delivered, change her - it's way more important that she's happy in the photos than wailing but wearing that gorgeous lace and tulle gown you adored so much at the time.

The most important thing to ensure on the day of your family photo shoot, is that everyone is happy relaxed and comfortable in your surroundings. The more relaxed you feel. the more relaxed you'll look on camera. And that's ultimately what you're looking for.

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© 2019 by Little Portraits - Photography by Kathryn Earl