Top 5 Questions About Family Photoshoots Answered

Helpful tips from J Noelle Photography

By Jessica Sweeney, Publisher, Macaroni KID Athens & Casey Vanstone, Owner, J Noelle Photography April 15, 2024

New seasons of the year mean new opportunities for families to capture and preserve memories, and preparing for a successful family photoshoot requires a lot of careful time and consideration. Perhaps this is your first time planning pictures with a professional photographer, or maybe it's your first time that will include children. Whatever the occasion may be, there are common questions clients ask potential photographers when planning for their perfect pictures.

Macaroni KID Athens teamed up with Casey Vanstone, owner of J Noelle Photography, to help put your concerns at ease by answering the top 5 questions about family photoshoots to help you get the most out of your session.

1. What are your favorite spots in town to take family pictures?

I love shooting at Vintage Oaks Farm in Bogart, GA - it’s a wedding venue that I have permission to use for shoots, as long as there’s not an event going on. A big wide open field with nice ground foliage that makes for a clean, simple backdrop.

The Botanical gardens in Athens, GA is also a popular option. I love shooting there because not only is there beautiful plant life and flowers, but also lots of architecture that provides varied backgrounds. It’s also a nice option for big families, offering plenty of room to spread out. Having elevator access from the parking lot and lots of seating throughout the gardens is a plus for older family members, so they can participate in family photos in comfort.

Finally, I love shooting in clients homes! Unstructured, candid lifestyle sessions are about as relaxed as they come. Clients (especially children) feel more comfortable in their own space, and it feels good to make memories in your own home.

2. Any tips when planning on what everyone should wear?

Comfort is key. I tell clients to wear what ever they’d like, as long as it’s comfortable! If you choose special outfits for photos and they aren’t comfy to wear, constantly adjusting your clothing or yourself can make shoots feel like a chore. Some easy tips I usually suggest are:

1. Solids are always a plus. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but generally, lighter colors look great on darker skin, and darker colors look nice on lighter skin. Contrast is good! But you know what colors suit you best - wear what you enjoy!

2. If you wear patterns, bigger the better! Tight patterns like pinstripes or small, tightly packed polka dots tend to get distorted on camera. Bigger patterns like florals, gingham, plaid and the like photograph nicely.

3. Be mindful of shoes depending on where we shoot. Heels look great, but it might be hard to walk in grassy areas. Some clients bring walking shoes if we shoot in a field or at botanical gardens, and then switch to heels when we’re on solid ground. I recommend comfortable shoes like boots or sandals. And shooting in bare feet is just plain fun!

3. Should I bring my own props to the photoshoot?

This isn’t always necessary, it depends on the shoot. Maternity clients  sometimes like to bring sonograms or baby shoes to incorporate into  shots, which is sweet! Graduation clients often bring a cap and gown or different outfits for varied shots, and sometimes their diploma or degree also. When I do family sessions, I always offer to bring my large, cream colored blanket for seated shots. Most clients accept my offer, and we get some nice shots on my large blanket that can fit quite a few people. I also have a bubble machine that I can offer for young children to make the session fun for them. I also have experience working with kids on the spectrum, and the bubble machine is a great option to give them something fun to focus on while I shoot if they struggle with communicating or being around strangers.

4. Do I need to plan specific poses?

Nope! I’ll direct you on easy, timeless poses that photograph well.  Sometimes clients have Pinterest boards with specific pose ideas they’d  like to include - which is great! I love when clients provide input to  make the session unique to their taste. For younger clients, some of my  posing requests seem odd or silly - but it’s worth it when they see the  shot! But no, there’s no need to plan certain poses unless you have  something specific in mind. Just show up, and I’ll direct you on how to  pose.

5. What is the best way to keep my child(ren) engaged and cooperative?

Honestly? Patience. I’ve been doing this long enough, I can gauge when kids are just done and won’t give me any more shots, versus when they just need some time. Being a mom myself to an eight year old and an eight month old, I’ve got lots of tricks up my sleeve to keep them engaged and happy. I tell jokes, let them be silly, and (with parents  permission), tell them there’s a lollipop for them in my trunk if they can give me just a few more big smiles.

For older kids, I encourage them run around and have fun. I have them tell me how they think their parents should pose, or tell me what shots *they* want to get. For younger kids and babies, I often tell parents to let them take breaks. Need to nurse baby or change a diaper? Go ahead! Toddler needs a goldfish break? Let them eat. I also try and get all the shots including kids done at the beginning of the shoot, that way if they get overtired or can’t give us anymore, we’ve already gotten what we need from them and they can be “done”. This is why my family sessions allow for up to an hour of shooting. I work quickly - I can usually wrap up a family session in about 35-40 minutes, that way parents don’t have to worry  about their kids lasting for a whole hour, especially if it’s close to nap or meal time.

Learn more about

J Noelle Photography is operated and owned by Athens-local mom of two, Casey Vanstone, who is passionate about capturing life's favorite moments. With years of professional experience, Casey specializes in creating a comfortable  setting no matter where your photoshoot takes place: outside in nature, having fun at a local venue, or even candid shots at home!

Whether you're celebrating an engagement, a birthday, welcoming a new addition to the family, or simply want to freeze a moment in time, J Noelle Photography is dedicated to detail and storytelling through imagery.

Take a moment to browse the website, full portfolio, and learn more about services offered.