London Family Photo shoot tips and Advice for parents

How to get the most out of your Family Photo shoot with Susan


OK so the reason you have booked me to do a family photo shoot is to take great photos of a happy and united family and to show to the world just how much you love your children…?  Right?


Of course as a parent of 2 boys, and having taken family portraits for 10 years now, I know that the reality of family life is far from all smiles and great behaviour!.  The important thing during a family photo shoot is to create the right atmosphere to allow the children and you to be relaxed and happy, which will in turn allow me to take great family photos…


So here are a few family photo shoot tips to help you on the day


  • Don’t stress about the behaviour of your child…


10 to 1 your child is no more naughty or highly strung than any other child…so let me start by saying relax…  Children always enjoy the shoot as I love playing with them and they can see that in me, so they warm to the camera pretty quickly and I have loads of fun with them.  If however they are doing what you think is something naughty, here’s the key,




You need to let me deal with their behaviour during the shoot.  I am very experienced at distracting children and moving them on from their behavioural rut if need be, but if you step in and tell them off they will invariably become grumpy or even burst into tears… not a good look for a family portrait.


Of course if they look like they are about to hurt themselves or others (or me!) then do what you have to do, that’s fine.


The remarkable thing is that as they don’t know me, I am a relative newcomer to them, like a new teacher, you’ll find that they do what I tell them to do without too much fuss.  I have a small window of about an hour before they feel they  know me and can then start to push my boundaries..which is why I try and get the photos done within this time if possible.

outdoor photo shoot

  • Try and look relaxed!


Second rule of family photo shoots, is if you can’t relax when little Johnny is pulling a face, then at least pretend that you’re relaxed!!  I can stop him making a face (trust me I’m a photographer), but invariably I have to concentrate on little’s Johnny’s face and will capture the 2 seconds when he does relaxes..but if his parents are looking really tense then the moment is wasted!!  So don’t fret and trust me to deal with the kids, whilst keeping a wonderful serene smile on your face!.  If I need help in distracting them I will of course ask.

photo shoot in hyde park

  • Distraction


Distraction is key to keeping children engaged in a photo shoot, but it has to be the right kind of distraction.  Sometimes I get parents who are so keen that their child smile that they busy themselves off to the side shouting at them “say cheese Johnny, Look at the lady, say cheese”…


Firstly, I don’t want them to be told to smile, I want them to smile because they are happy. Secondly, I want them to look at me because they are interested in what I am saying or doing not because they are told to look at me.  These 2 points actually make a big difference in the final image as we can get a much more natural expression.  I never ask a child to smile, as there are countless ways to make them smile without asking (entertaining them usually, or tickling!).  If the child/children is shy and prefers their parent to me, that’s fine, that’s when I get parents involved in the distracting….  I often ask a parent to stand behind me and play peekaboo or do a dance or make faces so don’t worry and let me co-ordinate things.

outdoor photo shoot

  • Bribing/rewards


OK so I know that sometimes kids just don’t want to play ball and dig their heels in, and I have a few things I can bribe them with in this case.  I only mention them to the kids if I think they need persuading to sit in a certain place or look a certain way.  But just so you know, I use mini smarties (these are great, tiny and quick to eat and yet kids will do almost anything for them! I will always ask if you’re ok with this first though) during the shoot and then have a couple of ‘prizes’ for the end of the shoot if things go well…which of course they always get!

Holland Park Photographer


So there we have it, basically, trust me to lead the way and manage the kids…it’s easy and it’s great fun.  I hope you have a fab shoot and enjoy it as much as I do..


Susan Porter-Thomas LSWPP London Family Photo shoot Tips and Advice for Parents

advice for parents