10 things I might ask at a family session (& why!)

As I finish up an extremely busy fall photo season, I hear myself saying the same things over and over again. While everyone generally trust me to just “go with it”, I thought I would share some of my most common asks during a family session and explain what I’m thinking behind the camera!

1. Pick everyone up!

I’m honestly not trying to give everyone a workout - there is a method behind the madness! The goal is to get everyone’s eyes on the same level. This allows everyone to be in focus and look “together”. If you have a little one that is very small and everyone is standing, their head will be very far away, making it feel less cohesive. This can also be achieved by sitting together on a bench or step.

2. Kneel down

Sometimes it’s not always possible to pick everyone up- I’ve had my share of back issues and kids can be heavy! (and at a certain age, it’s a bit much!) So instead of picking them up, kneel down so you’re at their level.

3. Go Cheek to Cheek!

What can feel like a small space in reality can look like a huge gap on camera. Nothing says disconnected then a huge gap between people! The “cheek to cheek” gets your faces right next to each other so you feel that love and closeness!

4. Look at each other and laugh!

The goal here is those fun, “candid” looking shots without everyone staring right at the camera. This may feel awkward and staged, but it looks great! The very idea of pretending to laugh, can make people laugh! I like it for some of the wider shots that make it feel like a moment was captured!

5. Walk together and look at each other, not the camera!

This is to give the sense of a natural moment caught on camera! Walking and laughing at each each shows interaction between you as a family. It is a bonus if the kid(s) look at the camera, as it makes them the central focus!

6. Give a kiss!

This is a good distraction from “look and smile” and usually provides a reaction from one or both of the people involved!

7. Have the kids run to the camera!

Let all that youthful energy work for you, not against you! It’s a nice break to have the kids just run around and catch some action shots. This makes them feel like they get to do something they want to do, and you get some cute candid shots! And sometimes they just need that release!

8. Jump really high!

Another great one to get out that energy- have them jump off something (not too high!) and get those fun jumping shots- it’s a fun break and kids usually get into it!

9. Throw them in the air or lift them up!

When the little ones get fussy in the same position, this is a good distraction- they usually love being held up high or being thrown, and they forget they are having their photo taken and you get some good natural smiles!

10. Everyone sitting on a blanket

This takes some maneuvering to get right, but I generally position the parents in the back, super close together to avoid gaps, and the kids in front. Gaps give a feeling of distance- we want the whole family to feel together! So when I keep asking you to get closer, that is why!

Those are a few that are most common! Any favorite interactions or poses that you like? I’m always open to new ideas or nixing any you are not a fan of!