family poses and smiles at camera during philadelphia family photo session

Planning a family photo session can be both exciting and overwhelming. These sessions capture precious moments and turn them into lasting memories, but getting everything just right can feel like a daunting task. Whether you’re planning your first family photo session or looking to perfect your preparations, having a comprehensive checklist can make all the difference.

At Taylor Verner Photography, I’ve worked with countless families in the Philadelphia region to create vibrant, authentic portraits that stand the test of time. Through this experience, I’ve learned that preparation is key to a successful photo session. That’s why I’ve compiled this complete checklist to guide you through every step of the process. From choosing the perfect outfits to selecting meaningful locations, and ensuring everyone is comfortable and relaxed, this guide covers it all.

So, grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and get ready to make your next family photo session the best one yet!

What is Family Photography?

Family photography is about capturing and preserving the stories of joy, love, and connection that make your family unique. It’s about documenting those perfectly imperfect moments that showcase the bond you share. During a session, you’ll spend time with your photographer doing the things your family loves most—playing games, sharing laughter, and letting your kids be themselves. The result is a collection of beautiful images that bottle up all the magic and love of your family, turning them into treasured heirlooms for generations to come.

Why is Family Photography Important?

Family photography is a powerful way to capture the history and growth of your family. These photos create the stories you’ll share with future generations, bringing loved ones closer and reminding your children just how much they are cherished. Happy memories are one of the most important legacies we can leave our children, and photographs help keep those memories alive. In the end, sometimes photographs are all we have left, making them invaluable.

How Often Should I Have Family Photos Taken?

Family photos are a fantastic way to document the growth and special moments of your family. How often you choose to take professional family photos depends on how much you value capturing these memories. I generally recommend scheduling one professional photo session per year. It’s incredibly rewarding to see how your family evolves over the years through these annual photos, creating a beautiful visual timeline in your family albums.

What is the Best Age to Start Family Photos with my Kids?

There’s no specific “best age” for a family photoshoot because every stage of life is worth capturing. While some might suggest certain ages are ideal, I believe any time is the perfect time for family photos. Whether you have a baby, a toddler, a tween, a teen, or adult children, it’s never too late to start. Don’t worry if you missed the early years—each stage has its own unique charm. A photo of young adults laughing together is just as priceless as a toddler snuggled in their parents’ arms. The important thing is to capture the love and connection at every age, creating timeless family heirlooms.

What to expect from a Lifestyle Family Photo Session?

A lifestyle family photo session captures your family in a natural and relaxed environment, showcasing the genuine connections and joy you share. Unlike traditional studio sessions that involve pristine outfits and posed smiles, lifestyle photography takes you to parks, fields, or hills where you can be yourselves. You’ll enjoy playing, running barefoot, and sharing bear hugs with wind-swept hair while your photographer captures these spontaneous and heartfelt moments. This approach allows the true essence of your family to shine through, resulting in images that are authentic, vibrant, and full of life.

Now, that is not to say that all of your Lifestyle Family Photo session is just running amuck (amuck amuck).  It is more like photography improv, where I will give you a prompt (whisper a secret in mom’s ear!) and then stand back and allow your family to make the situation authentically you.

What time of the year is best for Family Photos?

That depends entirely on your family!  Many families plan their photos in the fall, when the leaves in Chester County are turning and everyone is planning for their holiday cards.  However, spring greenery and summer beaches are also beautiful and popular backdrops for family sessions.  Look at the artwork in your home- it may give you a clue to what type of background will best suit your photos.

What time of the day is best for Family Photo Sessions?

Natural light photographers will answer in unison- Golden Hour.  Golden hour is the approx. hour before sunset and after sunrise, when the sun is low in the sky and provides a soft, beautiful light for your photos.  It is, without a doubt, the most popular time of day, and my default scheduling preference for family portraits. 

How long do Family Photoshoots last?

Typically Family Photoshoots last about an hour. This usually includes the meet and greet with the photographer and discussing any last minute questions or suggestions. An hour is a good enough time to get comfortable in front of the camera, to open up enough to play some games or have some meaningful conversations. Both parents and kids start to relax and open up 15 minutes into the photo session, this gives the photographer enough time to create opportunities for a fun, emotive and love filled photo session.

Because I like to shoot at golden hour, and in order to never rush a family, I only schedule one family photoshoot per evening.  This allows us all to relax and go with the flow.  I can’t tell you how many amazing photographs I would have missed out on if I stopped shooting exactly at one hour! On the other hand, if the kids are starting to get tired, hungry, or just generally annoyed, then we call it a day and let the little ones relax.

What should I look for in a Family Photographer?

Above anything else, choose a photographer you LIKE- both their work AND their personality.  You are going to spend some serious up close and personal time with them, and if you end up with a photographer that you just don’t vibe with, the results will be disappointing. So look for someone who matches your energy, the energy of your family, and someone who won’t rush you or your kids around trying to follow a workflow, or go too slow and have you bored in the first 10 minutes.

Of course your photographer should be able to produce amazing pictures (you should check their portfolio to see if you like their work) but most importantly they should be able to provide you with an experience that is stress-free and catered around the comfort and safety of your family. If you’d like, You can learn more about working with me here!

And how will you make sure your photographer will be able to do all the above things? Communicate! Talk to them, share your worries and concerns and excitement and see if this is the person you can trust with your time and investment.

You can tell a lot about a person within just a few minutes of talking to them.

How much does a Family Photoshoot cost?

Family Photography is an interesting cross section of service and art- which means the pricing can vary widely! Additionally, pricing structures vary from one photographer to another- so It’s important to be certain that you understand how much your photographer is charging and what you will receive in exchange.

On average, here in Chester County, family photoshoots cost about $400 to $600, but can go as high as $2500.  Take your time and do your research. Most likely the photographer you choose now will be your Family Photographer for years to come, so choose wisely.

Can I include my pet in my Photo session?

Pets are family! Aren’t they? For a lot of parents, their pets are like their babies and I totally respect and love that notion.

Pets in Family Photoshoots look absolutely adorable! Of course I need to make sure to pick a park or trail which is pet friendly, but other than that, pets are always welcome!

What should we wear for our Family Photoshoot?

That’s what you’re really here for, isn’t it? You will choose your outfits depending upon the location of your photoshoot, time of the day and season. I share with you my complete Style Guide after booking. But here’s what you need to know in a nutshell:

  • Choose your Color Palette
  • Pick YOUR outfit first
  • Don’t match, Coordinate
  • Skip the logos
  • Use your style, not a pinterest board

How do I prepare for the Photoshoot?

The best way to prepare for your Family Photoshoot is to talk to your photographer. Do you have certain expectations? Is there a particular picture/pose you are looking for? Are you worried about kids (ahem…. and husband) getting cranky?

During the planning sessions, we go over every little detail to create a Family Photo session of your dreams. We discuss locations, outfits, props and poses. We discuss your expectations and make plans to turn them into reality. I’ll give you tips and tricks on how to get your folks excited for a photoshoot!.

What not to do at a Family Photoshoot

Seriously, this is probably the most important section, so listen up. Your family Photoshoot can be as fun or as stressful as we make it.

I know this is an important day for you and I will make sure it turns out exactly as you expected. But here’s a list of things to avoid to minimize your stress and make it FUN for everyone.

  • Do not come late for the photoshoot. Give yourself and your family plenty of time to get ready and be at the location at least 15 minutes early. This is especially important if you have little kids. Every mom knows how quickly a rushed child can be a melting down child.
  • Do not discipline your kids at the photoshoot. It’s the time to create lasting memories and you do not want them to remember getting scolded every time they look at the family photos.  I have three kids of my own and have spent my entire adult life teaching, caring for, and leading kids, so I promise you that I can wrangle them for you and get the photos you are hoping for out of them.
  • Do not try to fix their clothes, hair, or faces at the photoshoot. Wind will blow the hair and dresses will get dirty. Happy dirty kids are far cuter than sad anxious kids in pristine clothes.  We want them to relax and enjoy themselves so we get authentic emotions.
  • Do not force little Robert to smile into the camera. He will absolutely look like Chandler Bing if you do. In 10 years from now you will be so excited to see their authentic frown rather than their fake smile. All emotions are good and should be appreciated!
  • Lastly, don’t stress about getting everything perfect! Life is not perfect and neither are we. So just try to relax and be in this moment. You are surrounded by little humans who love you more than anything in this world. What else can be more beautiful than that? Just close your eyes and take it all in!

What props can I use for Family photography?

Less is more and simple is beautiful for Family Photography. I’m not big into elaborate props for my family sessions because I want everyone to feel free and able to move around. However, I always encourage you to bring your child’s favorite lovey or their baseball glove and a ball if they are learning to catch. This session is about you and if tossing a baseball around is how your husband and son are going to relax and connect- then let’s do it!

What to do after the Family Photoshoot?

It’s like Tom Petty says- the waaaaaaiiiiiting is the haaardesssst paaaart…. It’s now my turn to dive headfirst into editing and create magic out of your gorgeous pictures. So just sit back and relax. And while you are awaiting the arrival of your beautiful pictures, it would mean the world to me if you could write me a review. Your review is what gives wind to my sail!

When do I get pictures back from my Family Photo session?

Editing is where I add the razzle dazzle. This is where I infuse my artistry with your emotions and create magic. I hand edited every single image and put my heart into the process. It takes me about 2 weeks to get back all your pictures. I do share a sneak peek the day after your session to hold you over!

When your pictures are ready, You will receive an email from me that leads to your gallery.  You’ll see a slideshow of your images, and be able to view each image one by one.  Remember- my Family Collection is inclusive of ALL photos in your gallery, so you don’t have to spend hours narrowing down which photos you want to select- instead, you can spend that energy choosing how you want to display all of these beautiful photographs (which actually might be harder, now that I think about it!?)

Where can I print my Family Pictures?

If you take away anything from our time together, let it be this.  Please, please, please, don’t let these beautiful photographs live on your hard drive or the cloud.  I cannot begin to tell you how many hard ways I have learned this lesson.  My wedding photos- GONE – because a new puppy ate the CD they were stored on. Years of vacation photos- GONE- because a hard drive crashed.  Even as I move to a more minimalist lifestyle I cannot and will not ever walk away from printed photos. 

You invested the time, the energy, and the money into a family photography session- so what good are those memories going to do lost on the cloud?  Print the photos!  My print partners can handle the entire thing for you.

How do I book my Family Photography session?

Hooray! I’m so glad you asked! You can book your Family Photoshoot on my Booking Page with a $200 retainer. I would be so thrilled and honored to play a role in your family’s memories- let’s have the best time.

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