7+1 keys to making a family photograph that will last through the years

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4 Jul 2023

Although many types of children’s sessions can be done, theusual aim of family photograph is to capture a very specific moment of family life in a natural and spontaneous way so that it becomes a beautiful memory for the whole family.

If you want to dedicate yourself to family photograph, in this article we are going to give you 7+1 keys so that your family photo sessions are spontaneous, emotional and very natural. Because at the end of the day, what your clients are looking for is to remember this beautiful stage that their children are currently experiencing throughout their lives.

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“In family photograph shoots, an ordinary afternoon can turn into an unforgettable memory”.

What is family photograph?

Family photograph is a speciality that focuses on capturing special moments and portraits of families where the connection and love between family members is reflected. The aim of these sessions is to capture memories and tell stories that will last over time.

This type of family reportage can be very diverse and can start from when a couple decides to have a baby and remember this moment with a pregnancy session, to covering all the important moments and stages of that child.

As a family photographer, you can specialise in a variety of styles, but what is most important when planning and marketing a family photo shoot?

  1. Choose the type of family photograph sessions you feel most comfortable working with.
  2. Try other styles to offer a wider variety of sessions to your clients.
  3. Prepare your sets either with a variety of props or by looking for special locations.
  4. Make the little ones feel at ease at photo shoots.
  5. In addition to taking portraits, he always seeks to capture the spontaneity of children.
  6. Build customer loyalty and encourage your clients to take more family photo shoots with you.
  7. Research your specialisations and always keep learning.

Now let’s look at these 7+1 ideas in a little more detail.

1# Specialise in the type of family photo that suits you best

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Before family photography became fashionable, parents only booked a photo session for very specific or important events in their children’s lives, such as a christening or first communion.

Nowadays you can find in the market a multitude of sessions with children that have a great demand of clients. The ones we are going to show you below are just an example, but the truth is that you can offer your clients as many family photo shoots as you can think of.

The important thing is that you study all the options and stick with the ones that best fit your business idea.

Pregnancy session: the first photo in the family album

It could be said that family photograph begins with these sessions where expectant mothers want to keep a precious memory of their pregnant belly. Within this speciality different products can be offered, for example:

  • In-studio reports plus posed shots.
  • Outdoor maternity sessions.
  • Combination of photo reportage and belly painting.
  • Photographs in pairs.
  • Boudoir for pregnant women.
  • Thematic reports.
  • Etc.

For this type of session during the last trimester of pregnancy, it is very useful to have fancy dresses for pregnant women and to teach the expectant mothers how to pose so that their figure looks much more beautiful.

Newborn portrait: the first portrait of the baby

Many of the photographers who do pregnancy shoots offer newborn shoots afterwards, so they can offer special packs and clients can also see how they work on the maternity shoot.

These reports are usually organised during the first 10 days of the baby’s life and capture in a more artistic and creative way those positions adopted by the baby in its mother’s womb and its first expressions that will change very quickly.

For this type of reportage the photographer has to have extensive technical knowledge, especially in positioning the baby and creating sets.

Here are 7 extra tips for this type of photo shoot with newborns.

>> 7 Basic tips for creating adorable newborn photos

Family breastfeeding photo: a once-in-a-lifetime experience

This very natural session is becoming more and more fashionable among mothers because it is a precious memory of one of the most beautiful and unique childhood stages in the life of a mother and her child. Breastfeeding.

In this type of photography the idea is to immortalise this intimate moment between a mother and her child. The photographer must ensure a pleasant atmosphere in the studio and guide the mother so that she feels comfortable and calm at all times.

Christening photo session: their first official event

These christening photoshoots can be proposed to the clients with a photo session before the big day, where you can propose some photos at home with the family with an informal look and also with the christening clothes and all the details.

A second part of this photo session can be the actual photo reportage during the day of the religious ceremony or even a session in the studio as a family portrait.

Follow-up images from the first year: an unforgettable memory

It is also very fashionable for parents to have several mini-sessions spread over the first 12 months of a newborn baby’s life.

Without a doubt, this is a very nice way to keep a precious memory of this special year and a way for children’s photographers to have an extra income in the off-peak periods.

Delicious photos of smash cake: celebrating her first birthday in style

Many parents want to celebrate their baby’s first birthday in style and keep a different kind of memory of this happy moment. In the smash cake or first birthday sessions, the little ones will be confronted with a delicious and appetising cake with lots of colours that they can touch, smash and taste to their heart’s content.

As this photo session is so popular, many photographers offer it to older children and even organise sessions for adults. And other photographers, to complement this sweet and sticky photo shoot, then offer families the possibility to take a warm bath in another more relaxed session.

In order to organise this type of report you have to prepare several birthday sets according to the theme that the parents want and have the contact of a good confectioner who, as well as making cakes suitable for 1 year old babies, knows how to adapt their creations to your decoration.

First communion sessions: a moment of great emotion for the children

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Communion sessions are a classic every spring and over the years they have become a great source of income for photographers.

A few months before the big day, you can organise a session in a studio and/or outdoors to get some beautiful images of the child dressed for his or her first communion that will later serve as a souvenir for the family. As you would expect, on the day of the first communion, you can also do a reportage during the ceremony and with the rest of the family and friends. Or even go to the celebration hall to make a report in its gardens.

For this type of sessions, especially those before the day of the communion, you have to prepare your studio with props in pastel tones that go with the theme of communions (boats, flowers in pink tones, etc.).

Here we are going to share with you an article that will help you to improve your communion photos for the next season.

>> Do you want to know how to take the best communion photos for 2023?

Themed children’s photo shoots: a fun idea for the less busy months

Another session that works very well, especially for the slower months when there is no campaign in sight, are thematic reports. Depending on the time of year, you can launch small temporary campaigns with a specific theme.

At the end of spring, many photographers organise photo shoots with seasonal fruits or in the studio, evoking a day at the beach. In autumn, fine art or more creative shoots recreating this beautiful season of the year are very fashionable. And during the rest of the year, themed shoots of children’s favourite cartoons or, for example, special sessions for Halloween or carnival are also in great demand.

Christmas family photo: a very special memory with a lot of magic

Without a doubt, the Christmas session is the star reportage of the whole winter and there are few children’s photographers who can resist organising a Christmas decoration for these magical sessions.

This type of reportage usually starts to be organised just after the summer because it takes a lot of work, especially when it comes to thinking about and creating the set.

To prepare for this type of session, as well as having a decoration ready that will leave the families open-mouthed, you also have to organise some special products, such as Christmas cards with the photos of the session, Christmas decorations and of course, packs of printed photographs.

In the following article we give you some tips on how to prepare your next Christmas campaign.

>> Christmas Campaign 2022: the definitive guide for photographers

Family studio sessions: family portraits

Another of the classics that can be offered in a photography studio are family or children’s photo shoots. Because when families want a more formal photo of all the members, the classic studio sessions are the most demanded. And although it is a more classic and posed type of session, you can also add your personal touch by playing with different settings and props.

For this type of reportage it is important to have several timeless sets ready, some props and a lot of imagination to take the little ones of the house with you.

Family outdoor reportages: a very fun ride

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With the arrival of the good weather, families want to go out into the countryside or take a walk along the beach at sunset and take advantage of the occasion to have a memory of all the members of the family. These outdoor photo shoots are pure spontaneity and the ones that children like the most because they can jump, run and have much more freedom than in a photo studio.

For this type of outdoor session, especially to liven up the session for the children and to gain their trust, you can have various games prepared or bring small toys such as balls, jump ropes or pompoms to the session.

It is also important that you are clear about the best places for this type of photographs and the most appropriate time to take them.

2# Try other styles for more exclusive family photography

Once you have decided on the specialisations that suit you and your background, you can try out different styles to make your reporting different from your closest competitors.

Within the children’s sessions, there are two totally opposite styles that are creating a trend within family photography. These are lifestyle and fine art style shoots.

As you can see they are totally opposite trends and in addition to being in tune with each photographer’s own style they will also have to adapt to the age of your little clients.

Documentary or lifestyle family photograph

Especially for newborns and some family sessions, parents are looking for a much more natural and familiar memory. For this type of client, lifestyle shoots are perfect because the photographer can go to their homes to capture the family in their everyday environment. They can also be organised by taking a nice walk in the open air. In this type of photo reportage the traditional posing is avoided and the aim is to capture the family in their everyday environment:

  • Bringing out flattering features to the protagonists.
  • Get them to forget about the camera and be themselves.
  • Create a pleasant and fun atmosphere to make the images a bit more fun.
  • To capture the complicity that exists between family members.

Another modality within this type of documentary sessions that are increasingly in demand are the photo sessions during the birth and in the first 48 hours of life in the hospital. In this type of photos, capturing the emotion of the parents and the first expressions of the newborn baby will be the main objectives of the photographer.

For this more documentary type of reportage, newborn photographers do not have to position the babies, only capture the newborns in much more natural positions.

Fine art photography with children

Fine art style shoots are much more artistic and elaborate and are designed for children from the age of one. In these children’s sessions the photographer has to create a much more elaborate set and have clothes for the children and props ready in the studio for them to use during the session.

The aim of these family photographs is to create a magical atmosphere around the children to capture it in a more artistic and creative way. In this type of photography, editing is a very important process in which the photographs are given that special touch.

3# Prepare the session in good time

When planning a family photo shoot, take the time to prepare for it, especially if you have several things to consider, for example:

  • Where is the shoot going to take place – in the studio, on location or even in the family home? Depending on whether you have to travel or not, you will have to plan the type of props, lighting, sets, etc. that you will need to use.

  • How old are the children? If you are going to work with young children, ideally you should have some kind of game or treat ready to gain their trust and make them more natural and calm during the family photo.

  • Advise the families on the most appropriate type of clothing to bring on the day of the session and the most recommended colour ranges to avoid unpleasant surprises on the day of the photo shoot.

  • If it’s going to be an outdoor shoot. Look for locations you like ahead of time, try to go another day at the same time to see what kind of light you will have and plan an alternative if it rains that day.

  • Prepare your equipment according to where you will be shooting.

  • Use your creativity to create unique scenes and take care of the composition of the images.

  • Always be alert and never stop shooting. Especially with children, you never know when an emotional family photo will come along.

4# Find the perfect locations for family photograph

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If your clients want to leave the studio for an outdoor photo shoot and the session is with children, the possibilities for an unforgettable photo shoot multiply. But for everything to go smoothly, you must first have a series of well-located places where you know that the photographs will be perfect for this type of client. To do this:

  • Look for places close to your location where children can play, jump and run around. A beach, a nearby wooded area, a park with large green spaces or a country area are perfect places.

  • If you live in the city, you’re bound to find a skate park, a park with a large playground or a fountain for the kids to play in if it’s already hot.

  • The accessories in this type of sessions can also be very useful, especially if they are small or somewhat shy children. For these cases, take toys, musical instruments, a teepee or Indian tent for the reports with younger children or a colourful umbrella.

  • If the family has pets, encourage them to bring them to the session that day. They are also part of the family.

  • And if the little protagonist has a great hobby, such as playing football or another specific sport, you can prepare the session around this hobby.

5# Do you like working with children? Learn how to gain their trust!

We all know that children are pure spontaneity and it is important to gain their trust from the first moment so that they feel calm and free to act as they are. To achieve this, you can play a quick game with them, have a tidbit ready or even a small toy that they can take with them when the session is over. With these small gestures, their smiles are guaranteed.

In addition, you can follow some of the following recommendations to ensure that your photo shoots with children where several people are portrayed turn out perfectly:

  • Meet in person before the session to get to know the protagonists and talk to their parents about the kind of memory they want to have.

  • Create a script for the reportage. Although spontaneity is usually sought after in this type of session, there must be a prior preparation process behind it. Plan a series of photographs that meet your clients’ expectations and then give free rein to your creativity.

  • If the shoot is to take place outside your studio, make sure you bring the necessary equipment for the whole shoot.

  • Stand at the same height as the children to get closer shots.

  • And enjoy the session, it’s the only way to capture the best family photos.

6# Try a more spontaneous family photograph

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In this type of photo sessions, families want to keep a memory of their children as they are, with their toothless laughter or their mischievous little face, so, unless they are looking for a more formal family portrait, they always try to bring out the most natural side of the little ones.

To achieve this they need to see you as a friend and the studio needs to be like a playground where they can see, touch and browse as they please. If the session is outdoors you will have it very easy, but if it is in the studio, make sure that part of the decoration is childproof and allow them to touch and play with it.

Be patient, sometimes children need time to adapt to the studio and recognise all the equipment around them. And if you see that during the photo session the little one doesn’t feel comfortable, change your strategy and don’t force the situation, otherwise the child will bring out their less smiling side. Always remember that children are going to have a fun time and if they feel bored they will show their most boring face too.

7# Build customer loyalty with multiple children’s sessions

One of the best things about being a children’s photographer, especially if you do various types of shoots, is that when you get a client it is easier for them to hire you for other sessions in the future. This level of trust that your clients gain when they have already seen how you work is fundamental to build their loyalty and get them to repeat their experience with you.

You can use various tricks to encourage them to come back later for another report, for example:

  • Create special packs that include several sessions.
  • It offers discounts for future reporting.
  • After a while send them an email announcing a new report.
  • Etc.

There are many ideas, the important thing is that your clients don’t forget you and have the need to repeat the experience in your photo studio after a while.

7+1# Never stop learning new techniques

In Arcadina we always say it, training is the key to success and a well trained photographer has much more chances of being hired than one who is gradually falling behind in terms of trends, types of sessions, decorations or even in the system of delivery of photographs to clients.

If you schedule several events and workshops specialised in family photograph in your annual agenda, you will be sure to learn about the latest trends, update your knowledge and create synergies with other colleagues.

Learn how to take a family photograph that conveys your own style

Family photograph is the best service that can be offered to families so that they can have a unique memory of their most loved ones, their children. And as you can see, family photograph encompasses many different sessions, styles and specialities, but in the end what clients are always looking for is to preserve a precious instant of this moment in their family’s life.

This time we are going to share with you the interview of a fantastic children’s photographer, Rebeca Canalda.

>> What is the day-to-day life of a children’s photographer like? Rebeca Canalda tells us about it

And to finish this article on family photograph, tell us: What type of family photo do you most like to promote? We’ll read you in the comments.

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