How to survive a family photoshoot

Published: 08th February 2018

Let’s talk family photoshoots. I never thought I’d be that parent who organises ANNUAL FAMILY PHOTOS, but I am. I am that parent and have now done five family photoshoots, so I feel like I can shed some light and hopefully encourage more people to have a ‘pro’ take your family photos this year.


If you look at any Mum’s camera roll, I guarantee she’ll have 3,748+ photos of her kids but very few of those photos (if any in my case!) actually include the whole family. Having a professional take photos of your family each year, captures that moment in time and is something you’ll always cherish.

A few years ago, I started giving all the grandparents and great-grandparents photo books of these family photos, so they receive one each Christmas and it’s the one gift I know I can give them that they genuinely love and look forward to receiving (I’m getting grief as I’m running late with these this year)!


The end result will be stunning family photos, but let’s get real for a second, the shoot itself isn’t always easy, especially when there’s kids involved. In my experience, there’s usually one unwilling participant and our case, it’s my 3yo, Sophie.

We started this shoot at 5.30pm for a better light situation (the alternative was early morning, which nobody wants to see photos of!) to avoid squinting the whole time. The girls normally have dinner at 5pm so I had to make sure they’d eaten before we arrived at the location and we were running late, so they ate some sushi in the car on the way to Palm Beach. By the time we arrived, Sophie was covered in soy sauce and rice – don’t even get me started on the state of my car, but that’s another story! After cleaning both girls up with the packet of wipes I’d brought with me, we popped on their clean dresses, brushed their hair and we were finally good to go.

We ventured down to the beach with our amazing photographer Zee, who has taken our family pics since Sophie was a baby, so she knows us pretty well. I love doing the photos outside, it feels so much more natural and less forced and posed. The girls were happy running on the sand, Zee stopped the girls under the jetty for a few shots. Mila went first and immediately struck a pose like she’d been waiting for this moment all year! We all tried to encourage her to ‘be natural’ and ‘relax’ but it took a while to shake those hands off her hips, but I love that these moments are all captured.

family photography

Soph on the other hand, wasn’t keen on the whole thing and initially refused to look at the camera, even with all of Zee’s jumping up and down and funny noises, there was no eye contact or smiles, she was going to make us work for it. Mila happily demonstrated again and Sophie eventually copied her sister, win!

From here, it all started to go downhill… Mila got a splinter walking along the jetty, which resulted in plenty of tears and Soph got the grumps again on the jetty, refusing to look at the camera. I did what all self-respecting mums do in times of need, I bribed her. I bribed her with the promise of chocolate and ice cream, if she could just crack a smile. Thankfully it worked!

Just as the girl’s patience started to wane, we found a starfish alive washed up on the sand. Not only was it a great distraction, but it made for some great photos as Sophie squealed with delight as she felt its little feet moving. 

After an hour, we were all pretty exhausted. Zee assured us she had some great photos, so we called it a day. Waiting for the photos to come through is torture! Luckily we never have to wait long and the full collection of high res photos was available with a week for download and we couldn’t be happier with the photos. Below are my top tips to make the day run as smoothly as possible.


Don’t be awkward. Does the whole family normally all wear matching outfits? No? Then don’t wear it for a photo.

DO wear similar tones, blues and greens, or pastels etc so it’s not completely matchy matchy, but it looks like you’re from the same tribe.

DON’T wear something you’re uncomfortable in, it'll show.


There’s a few key things you can do to make the experience better for everyone, here’s my top 7 tips; 

  1. Get yourself ready first! Inevitably you’ll run out of time, make sure you’re dressed, hair brushed and feeling good
  2. Feed the kids beforehand, do NOT dress them until after they’ve eaten
  3. Take wipes, always take wipes (life lesson LOL)
  4. Bring a hairbrush, clips, hair ties, for any last minute fixes
  5. A change of clothes if there’s a chance they could get messy
  6. Distraction is key! Take a favourite toy for little ones and bring it out when
  7. Bribery is optional, but highly recommended for stubborn toddlers!

I’m always so pleased that we’ve made the effort to get the photos and I’d encourage everyone to get a professional to take your family photos. I love looking back over the photos from each year and I know you will too!

Sara x

Family Photography

2019 All rights reserved - My Best Gift