As a photographer who works with a lot of families all throughout the year both in studio and outdoors one of the most common questions people have for me is “What’s the best session for my family?”.

No two families are alike so I try to offer the most variety in the types of sessions possible for my clients so that there is something for everyone. Because booking a session isn’t something a family does everyday its understandably a bit challenging to know just which session would be best for your family. To help you choose the session that would best fit your family I’ve put together a bit of a guide to help you sort through all of your options and make planning easier than ever.

Before you pick your session or sessions this year read on for my 10 things to consider when picking the best session for your family!

-1- Your children’s personalities and temperaments.

Are your little ones happy in new environments with new people or are they slower to warm up? Think about how your children do when placed in a new situation before choosing your session length and location as a photo session is often an unfamiliar experience for many children. Some children are happy and smiley quickly after a session starts and others are much more comfortable with a longer session length so that they can start off cautiously and warm up to the camera over time. Some children find it interesting to head into my studio and others do better with the familiarity of the outdoors. Longer outdoor sessions are available in the Spring and Summer when there are more daylight hours and the weather’s warmer.  

-2-How often you like to have photo sessions.

Before you choose your session type and length it’s best to reflect on how often you book a photo session. If you’re planning to come back for updated photos throughout the year you may prefer a series of shorter sessions and focus on just a couple of poses or family member combinations at each one. With multiple sessions during the year it’s also a great opportunity to include a variety backdrops so you can have both more classic, neutral backdrops as well as fun themed ones (such as holiday photos). If having a photo session is something you’ll likely do only every year or so a longer session is best so that we have time to capture a variety of poses, different combinations of family members, and also include a good mix of candid moments and posed portraits.

-3-How you’re going to display and share your photos.

Thinking about what you’d like to do with the photos from your session is a great help when choosing between all of the options.

Would you like a session for photos to use in a beautiful holiday card? Then a holiday session would be ideal for your photos!

Do you want adorable photos of your baby or toddler for their baby book? Then a baby milestone session in studio where we can capture all of your little one’s details is a great idea!

Would you like updated family photos to use for decorating your walls with? Then you may want to consider a natural outdoor backdrop or a studio session with a plain backdrop. The photos will look great all year long wherever you hang them!

-4- Your family’s tolerance for the outdoors.

Are you an outdoorsy family that loves being outside no matter the temperature or conditions? Perhaps your family would like a Fall or early Spring Session- or maybe even an outdoor Winter session if you’re particularly hardy!

Or do you or your children only enjoy being outside when the weather is warm? If your family doesn’t enjoy being chilly it’s unlikely you’ll be feeling very cheerful or smiley if the temperatures aren’t warm so sessions from June to September may be better for you.

Babies, and toddlers even more so, tend to not like being uncomfortable and are not afraid to show their discomfort. For families with little ones I find it is best to either head inside to the studio during the colder months or to book a session outdoors in the late Spring or Summer.

-5-Your family’s schedule.

All families’ commitments are different and often they change as children grow older so it’s often a family’s schedule that will help determine what kind of session will work best for them.

Do you need a weekend session for your family because of late work nights? I offer weekend sessions in studio throughout the Winter, outdoors in the Spring and early Fall, and for holiday sessions in November.

Is your schedule flexible enough to change your session date if it happens to rain during your outdoor session? If not, you may feel more at ease in the studio where you don’t need to worry about schedule changes.

Does the thought of another thing to schedule during the school year make you feel less than excited for your session? A Summer Session may be the best fit for you as they’re at a quieter and more relaxed time of year for many people.

-6- Your style.

Are you a casual family that is happiest in jeans or shorts? An outdoor session that includes lots of candid moments would be ideal for your family!

Do you like your photos to be a bit more formal? A studio session or a more posed outdoor session would be a great fit for you!

Some locations are better suited to more casual shots (e.g. the beach) and other locations suit a range of styles (e.g. sessions amongst flowers, outdoor Fall sessions) so if you’re not sure what backdrop would work best for the look you’d like just let us know, we’re always happy to make suggestions!

-7-What kinds of photos you like.

This seems like an obvious thing to consider at first but it’s not often something we ask ourselves so it’s helpful to think about it before choosing your session.

Think about the look of the backdrop and location of sessions you’ve seen, do you like the look of photos in studio or outdoors more?

Do you prefer more posed images where everyone is looking at the camera? I can take posed photos anywhere but think about where you like them more (e.g. in studio, certain locations).

Do you enjoy looking at photos where your family is moving and interacting? Then an outdoor session location with lots of room to run and play would a be great choice for you!

Do you like bright or interesting backdrops for your photos (e.g. themed sessions, outdoor sessions) or do you prefer more neutral, studio backdrops? They’re both wonderful options, it just depends on what look you’d prefer for your photos.

-8-Your children’s attention spans.

If you ask me what child’s age is a great age to book a session I would say….. all ages! But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ideal sessions for different ages and stages. Most of the sessions I offer look to be on the shorter side but that’s because I find for most children their attention spans mean that we only have a short amount of time where they’re going to be engaged and happy. While one 30 minute session might be what you want it may be best to book two 15 minute sessions over the year to best take advantage of your child’s attention span. Your children’s smiles will be worth the bit of extra effort!

-9-Your child’s developmental stage.

Childhood is a series of stages, some short and some that feel oh so very, very, long at times. From separation anxiety, to tippy sitting, to toddler running, and even teenage self-consciousness- these are all normal phases that I am more than happy to work with. All ages are a great age to photograph but choosing the right session for your child is the best way to ensure everyone has a positive experience.

Is your child experiencing separation anxiety? It may be a good idea to book a family session rather than a session just for your little one so that if needed they can cuddle up with mom or dad for photos.

Is your toddler a runner? Depending on your child (and you know them best!) it may be best to choose either a studio session to contain them or a safe outdoor location where it’s okay if they run.

Is your teen self-conscious and would prefer to stay far away from the camera? An outdoor session may help them feel more comfortable as I can shoot from far away until they’ve warmed up to me. Or is their main concern mom and dad? I also offer sessions just for teens so that they can be in the studio away from the urge to eye roll for their parents’ sakes 😉

-10-The dreaded cold and flu season…

As a parent it is inevitable that your family will get struck down with illness from time to time. And during the early years, especially if your children go to daycare, it can be shocking at first just how often they’re sick from the Fall through to the Spring.

There’s only so much hand washing you can do and illness is inevitable but if you want to reduce the chance of little ones being under the weather for their session the Spring or Summer is your best bet. Toddlers and babies tend to be pretty sad when they’re not feeling themselves and they’re also the ones that seem to be sick more often than not making the warm weather months the best choice for their photos.

Illness is also why we recommend coming in for first birthday sessions before daycare begins because little ones typically become sick soon after starting and it’s much more fun for babies and families without a cold getting in the way of their session.

Phew! That was a lot of information to consider! Choosing a photography session is not an exact science for sure but there are lots of things to think about when you’re selecting your session. If you’ve taken a look at all of the sessions I have coming up and you’re still not sure which session you’d like to pick just send us a note and we’d be happy to help you choose. After working with hundreds of families and countless children I am more than happy to share my experience and make a suggestion based on your own unique family.