4 Things to Focus On for Family Photos

September in Minnesota heralds the arrival of a new school year, football season and beautiful colors.  It’s also the time of year when many moms decide to corral everyone for an updated family photo.  

And why not?  Minnesota is well known and loved for its distinctly separate and beautiful seasons. Minnesota in the fall is pure heaven for leaf peepers with the vibrant golds, reds and oranges along our treelined trails, roads and hillsides.  

4 Things to Focus On for Family Photos | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Pinterest is overflowing with ideas for color palettes, poses and perfect locations to capture your family.  Admittedly, it can be  overwhelming to begin planning for your family’s photo session between budgeting, wardrobes, location and choosing a photographer.  So overwhelming that many mamas never do it or make decisions they later regret. 

I wanted to share a few quick tips to take some of the stress out of planning your family’s photos so that it’s a more enjoyable and fun process for everyone.  The less stress you feel means that your family is more likely to have fun and you will love your photos!  By making some minor adjustments to your mindset on the front end as you develop your expectations of your photography session,  you can truly relax the day of your session and enjoy your time together with your family.  

As with any aspect of mothering and serving as the CEO of your family, it’s up to you to decide to what works best for your family.  There’s no right or wrong when planning for photos – just different approaches.  These are the best nuggets I have to share based on the sum of my experiences as a mama of young children, a client and a professional photographer.  

Decide what you want to do with your photos.
This may seem like an odd place to start, but bear with me for a moment.  By envisioning your goals for the photos, you can create a roadmap to make the rest of your decisions.  Starting with the end in mind will allow you to be really intentional throughout the rest of the process. 

4 Things to Focus On for Family Photos | Twin Cities Moms BlogDo you want to mark a milestone? Perhaps your baby is going to be one-year old soon.  Are you planning for a large canvas of the whole family to hang over the fireplace?  Maybe that means you want a traditional, posed session.  Let that goal also guide your color palette and styling.  Do you have a huge gallery wall or hallway in your house that is full of colorful and candid moments that you want to add to?  Maybe you’ve already purchased or upcycled a bunch of frames that you just need to fill and hang.  Do you faithfully watch for the autumn color forecast and plan each year’s Christmas card with that theme?  Or are you a creative or lifestyle entrepreneur who needs fresh photos of your family and your work to showcase on your website and social media?  Or maybe your goal and reasons are completely different.  Whatever it is, focus on that end vision to guide your decision making.  As you move through the other parts of the process, it will become easier to select and reject options that best fit your goals.

Set your budget. 
After you do your soul searching to think about why want to have your family’s photos created and what you want to do with them, you can determine how much you value you are attaching to your photos in both a literal and figurative sense.  Deciding ahead of time how much you are willing and able to spend will help you make decisions consistent with what’s best for your family and set you up for a successful family photo experience.  

Photography in the Twin Cities area runs from $50 a session to a couple thousand dollars and everywhere between.  There are a lot of factors that go into a photographer’s pricing model – experience, equipment, professional status, skill level and such – to name a small handful of them.  By deciding up front what resources you are willing to commit, you will be able to hone in who the right photographer is for your family.  You will save yourself a lot of time and analysis paralysis by having your budget in mind as you decide on a photographer.  If you know going in that you are ready to spend $500 total, you can focus on the options that are in your price point.  By ruling out the very low and the very high ends of the pricing spectrum, you’ve already saved yourself time and stress by focusing on the options that are most realistic for your family.  Our first year as a family of three, our budget was zero.  We set up a tripod and captured our own.  In the last couple of years, we’ve invested in local professionals.  All the photos are different and I love them all for different reasons.  What matters most to me is that we are in the frame. Together. 

Pick your photographer and book your session.
Perhaps you already have a longstanding relationship with a photographer and you already have your session booked.  Great!  Skip to the next step.  If you haven’t had family photos before, or it’s been a long time or need some recommendations, my suggestion is to talk to your friends and family members who have beautiful photos that you love.  Word of mouth recommendations are so powerful for everyone involved – the person seeking the service is likely to get honest feedback from trusted sources and the professional offering the service builds a happy and loyal client base.  Win win for everyone! 

4 Things to Focus On for Family Photos | Twin Cities Moms BlogSo the next time you are at a friend’s house and see a lovely canvas on the wall or receive a beautiful birth announcement or see a gorgeous new Facebook cover photo (and they haven’t credited their photographer), be sure to ask them.  Then you can do a little more research or reach out to the photographer for more information.

For the majority of photographers in our area, this is the busiest time for us. Book early and you’ll have a better chance of a date and time that works best for your family.  Many photographers market their fall offerings in July and August, but it’s not too late even in September since many photographers build in a contingency plan for last minute mamas.  Talk to your friends about their plans and check out social media feeds for session openings if you haven’t booked yet.  

Prep your family members.  
This is one of the most important pieces of  family photo session planning.  Kids and husbands who have been prepped ahead of time with conversations about what you’re going to do with the photos and how much fun you are going to have are key to a session’s success.  

4 Things to Focus On for Family Photos | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Tell them about your photographer.  Tell them her or his name, show them their website and build some excitement.  If you have a special needs child as I do, this step is very important to help them feel comfortable.  

4 Things to Focus On for Family Photos | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Take them to the store to pick out a frame for a photo for their room.  Pull out old photo albums and go through them together.  Talk about the place you will have your photos taken.  Let them know that you are so excited to see their big smiles.  Maybe even let them make some of the choices.  You’ll gain their buy in and happy cooperation if they are given some say in a piece of the session. Maybe you let your son pick your accent color from two or three choices. Maybe you let your husband decide the location.  Wherever you can relinquish even a tiny bit of control, do it!  You’ll be so glad to see how they react to being empowered and having a voice in a family decision process.  

Also, be sure you connect with your photographer for guidance on pre-session prepping.  Many of us have more specific tips that are individual to our styles and approach.  One of the current trends is for photographers to provide pre-session consultations and planning guides to take the guesswork out of your session.  This is one way  that professional photography provides added value to your family and helps you feel good about making your investment.  

Regardless of who you pick, where you do your session, what clothes your family wears or how much you spend, it ultimately doesn’t matter.  Whether you pick the biggest package by the most expensive photographer, set up DIY tripod photos or grab a selfie stick and say cheese, you will make some great memories.  At the end of the day, you will have priceless photos that capture your family as you are this very moment.  

Life is short and how long we are on this earth is not guaranteed.  Once we are gone, our legacy lives on in the hearts, memories and photos we leave behind for our loved ones.  That you care enough to preserve your legacy in photos is just one more small way you are being a great mom to your kids.  

{All photos in this post are by the author.} 

Jamie Cramble
Jamie met her husband, John, at a courthouse weapons screening station. Completely smitten by the way he made her laugh and treated the others waiting in that long line with equal doses of humor and kindness, she agreed to go out with him a few months after their serendipitous encounter. They had their last first date ever together twelve years ago and just celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary. They live in the Twin Cities north metro with their 3 boys (ages 8, 5 and 4). As a police wife, special needs mama, photographer and writer, she is devoting the afternoon of her life to encouraging mamas to give themselves grace, share their stories and promote inclusivity. She also has a passion for helping other police wives survive and thrive in this unique lifestyle. When it’s time to celebrate one of life’s little victories, she lights a bonfire, savors snuggles from any of her four boys or sneaks a spoonful of raw cookie dough. You can connect with her on Facebook and www.jamiecramble.com.


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