Sunset Family Photography Session Tips

Updated March 3, 2021

We started our photography journey documenting landscapes and our travels. We transitioned to documenting our own little family when I was pregnant and then more and more as we became transfixed with all the little details of our precious new babe. As a general rule, we continue to document milestones and everyday moments with our kids and immediate family (we try to leave a camera out and accessible so we can pick it up anytime throughout the day!), but as our professional photography business has grown we’ve found ourselves with less time to get out and do mini-sessions as a family. After shooting this sunset family session at The Edward PEC we were feeling very much in need of doing our own glowy sunset session. Finally, we had a “home day” and the weather was glorious so we reached out to Kori at The Meadows Weddings, in Stirling Ontario to see if we could pop out for a session. First of all, that girl is a dream to work with on a wedding day, but also so supportive on social media and she happily agreed to let us wander around that evening and make some magic. Click here to see a wedding day at The Meadows. Keep reading to learn about our top tips for making your family photography session a dream.

father walking with children at sunset at the Meadows Stirling

Documentary-Style Family Photography Sessions

So our kids have their photos taken pretty often. They’re used to having a camera close by and are pretty good at just ignoring it. This works for our documentary-style approach to family sessions. Unfortunately, since they’re our kids, they don’t do posed photographs when asked, AT ALL. It’s nearly impossible to get them into a pose by asking, which honestly makes the whole thing pretty hilarious. We have to get very crafty if we have a vision for a shot. For better or for worse working with our own kids is 100% more difficult than any other families we photograph, let’s call it “skill-building”! All this to say, if you’re worried about how your kids might react to the photo session, trust us, we’ve seen it all. We have some really basic recommendations for preparing for your shoot.

How to prepare your kids for your family photography session

1. Plan outfits ahead of time.

Prepare your kids by telling them about your family’s special outfits for the shoot. Have the outfits washed, ironed/steamed and hanging somewhere safe for the week before your shoot. Get them involved by picking the outfit (if you have a variety you can choose from), or picking an accessory (e.g. hair clip, suspenders, etc). For this shoot I had outfits picked out ahead of time but let’s be honest, Isla wasn’t having a bar of it. She chose her dress, and shoes and then took my hair clip as her own. Sometimes it’s easier to just go with what they want. Did our patterns clash? Yes, they absolutely did. Did she feel amazing in her outfit? Also yes. Confidence and comfort are so important (even to your kids) in the context of a documentary-style photography session.

child running down the hill at The Meadows Stirling family shoot

2. Bring snacks.

Please bring snacks. Hungry kids (or adults for that matter) do not want to happily participate in a 90-minute session. They don’t have to be treats, a piece of fruit, a smoothie, some veggies, anything to stave off hunger. We’ve had parents bring special snacks to the session and pull them out right before the more “formal” or “posed” shots, the ones for grandma’s mantlepiece with the whole gang looking at the camera. This works great and then our favourite shots of the evening end up being the ones after the treat when the kids are riding the sugar high and running about chaotically!

kids taking photos at The Meadows Stirling wedding venue

3. Let go of your vision for your photographs.

Don’t try to recreate a shot you’ve seen on Pinterest. Interact with your family, connect with them, feed off your partner’s or children’s energy. Let your personality (and theirs) shine through. We want your images to reflect your real selves, if you want to see yourself in your images you have to show up as yourself at the shoot.

family walking along hill at The Meadows Stirling wedding venue

4. When in doubt, move.

Movement is the key to our images. If you’d like to have images like ours (and I am pretty sure you do if you’re reading this) then you’re going to need to move. Small movements, swaying, touching arms, adjusting hair have a beautiful impact on your images. With kids (as with couples) we look for a mixture of small movements, and big movements like running, jumping, and tickling. Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through all of this throughout your session, you will never feel like you don’t know what to do during your session.

So now you have everything you need to prepare for your family shoot. Click the link below and let's set up a time to capture the magic of your favourite people.


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“I would not be able to get married if they could not be my photographers”
- Michelle, Bride