7 Tips on How to Have an Amazing Lifestyle Family Photo Shoot


It’s time to have some new family photos taken, but the thought of planning it kind of overwhelms you.

You want those perfect images of you and your kiddos to hang above the mantle, but let’s be honest…you know one of the kids is likely to have a tantrum during the session, and your hubby’s interest level is probably going to be about zilch. Have you been there? Haha. If so, here’s a few tips on how to make it an easy-breezy, & even enjoyable experience during your lifestyle family portrait session, and also leave you with images that will just tug on your heart for decades to come!

1. Do your research

One of the biggest tips I can offer you is to do your research ahead of time, and chose a photographer that meets your needs. Have a little scroll through their portfolio of images. What kind of locations are they shooting in? Do the images feel more airy & bright, or more saturated and moody like you prefer? Do they shoot a lot of candids, or are they more posed? Do you feel like you could be BFF’s with this photog? Figure out what elements are important to you for your images, and then find a photographer who fits those desires. Being able to relate and connect to their imagery will keep your checkbook & calendar way more happy than having to constantly bop around from budget photographer to budget photographer in order to finally get those beautiful shots you’ve longed for of your family.

Candid B&W of girl on the beach - ©Tamarie Photography Candid Image of Boy playing in the sand on the beach - ©Tamarie Photography Candid Image of Boy playing in the sand on the beach - ©Tamarie Photography

2. Talk to your photographer pre-shoot

Let your photographer know what is important to you. Do you dream of tender connected moments between you and your daughter? Do you want to see joyful laughs as your kids run and play? Or do you prefer more calm & serene images? What shots are must haves – the kids together, the kids with each parent, then both? Tell your photographer these things so that way she can plan ahead. I personally will send over my clients a short questionnaire to get to know them better and to find out what their needs are from this session. This way I can come prepared and ready to jump right in!

Mother with daughter & son on the beach - Anna Maria Island - ©Tamarie Photography Mom chasing daughter in the waves - anna maria island - ©Tamarie Photography Mother and daughter playing in the waves photo - ©Tamarie Photography Boy on beach at sunset - ©Tamarie Photography Boy on beach at sunset - ©Tamarie Photography

3. Plan your outfits

It doesn’t have to be everyone with matching khakis & white shirts…and honestly, you are better off to not all match! I usually recommend wearing colors that are complimentary of each other, and also that work well with the location setting. Formal attire for the beach probably isn’t going to quite cut it, but some shorts or flowy, casual dresses might be just right. Think about choosing an outfit that you feel good in….because if you are uncomfortable in what you are wearing it will show!
Also a quick tip…it never hurts to bring an extra outfit or two with you for the kids. You never know when your son might get sick on the car ride over (yes, that did totally happen for one of my past clients!) If you are stuck on ideas for what to wear, head on over to this Client Outfit Inspiration Board of mine over on Pinterest for some suggestions. 🙂

Mother Daughter - feeling the ocean breeze - Anna Maria Island - ©Tamarie Photography Mother Daughter on the beach - Anna Maria Island - ©Tamarie Photography

4. Prepare – timing & location

What do you envision for your session when you think of the outcome of the images? Do you picture a soft golden sunset, or colorful & slightly edgy downtown scenes? Do you love landscapes and lush greenery, or city skyscrapers? Also think about where you want these images in your house. If you have a nautical theme going on in your living room and you want to hang a canvas above your couch from your session, an urban spot might not be the best location for your shoot. Another important factor to consider is timing. I generally like to plan my sessions for within a few hours of sunrise and sunset because I adore the golden hour light. If you plan for a mid-day session, you may end up with some dark circles under your eyes because of where the sun is in the sky…unless you and your photographer work strategically to find areas within your location to prevent that. Think about what time your kids are usually at their best behavior and happiest too. Are they morning love bugs, or do they do better after their afternoon nap?

Mother and daughter playing in the waves photo - ©Tamarie Photography Mother Daughter laughing in golden hour - Lifestyle Family Photos - Anna Maria Island

5. Bring snacks & water

I will say this upfront….I will not think any less of you if you bribe your kids with snacks & goodies. Haha. I get it. It can be hard to stay focused on the task at hand when you are 3-years-old. But when there are yummy goldfish to be eaten, I think I’d manage a few more minutes of photos too. 😉 Also, if you are here with me doing a session in the Florida sunshine….it can get hot pretty quickly! Bring along a water to keep hydrated and keep crankiness at bay!

Happy girl playing in the waves - Anna Maria Island - ©Tamarie Photography

6. Forget perfection

Speaking from experience of doing LOTS of family sessions over the years…telling your kids to sit up straight and stare at the camera with big smiles, is going to lead to some moaning and groaning after about 5 seconds flat. Kids will tire quickly of being told what to do and get grumpy. This leads to YOU getting stressed and let me tell you…kids 100% pick up on this energy and it leads to everyone being cranky and wanting to be done with the session.
This is why I suggest just have fun with it.
It’s okay to be silly. “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people” and that connection with come across in flying colors in the camera. Be yourselves. Tickle the kiddos. Spin them around in the air. Let them ride on your shoulders or chase after the ball or splash in the water.  This is where you will get true emotions and connections, and you will begin to feel the images & what life was in that moment when you look back at your prints or wall art. When my clients just relax & forget being perfect, these are when I get my best sessions!

Tips to an amazing lifestyle family photo shoot - ©Tamarie Photography Girl at the beach - B&W Beach Photo - ©Tamarie Photography

7. Trust your photographer

If you’ve done your research like I suggested in point #1, then just relax and enjoy the experience with this family portrait session.  Your photographer’s got it under control. No need to stress. You’ve seen their work, you know they have practice with working with families…just have faith that they will capture what you want, and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed! 😉

Mother Daughter Kissing - Beach Photographer - ©Tamarie Photography Tips to an amazing lifestyle family photo shoot - ©Tamarie Photography Tips to an amazing lifestyle family photo shoot - ©Tamarie Photography - Backlit Sunset Photo

I hope these tips were super helpful! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask using the “contact me” link below. Also, big shout out to my beautiful friend Jennifer (a fellow amazing photographer) and her adorable twins – Norah & Dylan – for letting me grab some of these fun photos that I used in this post, while we explored the beaches at Ana Maria Island. Such a fun time with y’all!

If you’d like to  experience a family session with me here in the Tampa Bay and surrounding beach areas, let’s make it happen! PS, I love to travel too. 😉
See my pricing page or contact me today!


tarah : 18:10 July 27, 2016 Reply
#6 is so KEY to a successful session. I know as a parent you want your child to look perfect, but you know what, the best photos are of your child being themselves. Great tips Tami!
    tami : 16:18 August 4, 2016
    So glad you loved them, Tarah! Hopefully many more parents will appreciate them too! :)
Bekah Lindner : 06:45 July 28, 2016 Reply
Gorgeous and sweet family images!! This would be such a helpful post for people who didn't know where to start with what to look for! I love that you talked about forgetting perfection too! :)
    tami : 16:20 August 4, 2016
    The sessions where kids just get to be kids, and aren't perfect, are my favorite! Thanks for the compliments, Bekah!

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