Cami’s Guide to a Successful Family Portrait Photoshoot

So, you’ve finally booked your family in for that professional photography session you’ve been dreaming of… But, how do you make sure your time (and money!) for the photo shoot is well spent? How do you ensure that you’ll end up with a collection of amazing photos you can cherish forever?

Capturing beautiful, natural family photos can often feel like nothing short of a miracle, but just like anything in life, the key to success is preparation! Here are some tips that you can follow to guarantee a great family photo shoot…

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REST UP AND REFUEL

You want the whole family to go into the photo session all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after a good night’s sleep, with their bellies full, and LOTS of energy! If you have little ones, plan your shoot around their usual naptime, and never try to switch up their usual eating/sleeping routine just for the shoot – otherwise, you’ll almost certainly end up with some very cranky kids! Make sure everyone eats a good meal before your photo session, so nobody gets “hangry” mid-shoot (mums and dads included!). Family photo shoots can take a few hours, so remember to bring some water and a few easy-to-eat, non-sticky, non-staining snacks, such as cheese cubes, grapes, rice crackers, or dried fruit. 

DRESS FOR SUCCESS

Of course, you should dress nicely for your photos, but this definitely does not mean dress in the most glamorous clothes you’ve got. Don’t feel pressured to go too formal with your outfits if that’s not who you are as a family – simply be you! The most important thing is that you wear clothes you and your family feel comfortable in – if anyone is feeling too restricted or self-conscious in their outfit, it will show in the photos. If everyone feels relaxed and happy, they will look relaxed and happy. Definitely take time to select and coordinate your outfits, but avoid going too ‘matchy-matchy’ – the whole matching family outfits fad should be left in the 80s! If you need help choosing complementary outfits, ask your photographer for advice and suggestions. To avoid unnecessary stress on the day of your shoot, plan your outfits well ahead of time so you can ensure they are clean, ironed, and ready to go, and bring back up clothing for bubs and toddlers.

GIVE YOURSELF PLENTY OF TIME

Getting the family prepped and ready for your photo shoot will most likely take a lot longer than you think. Allow yourself plenty of time, and prepare for last-minute mishaps – just in case! For mums, having your hair and makeup professionally done before the shoot can be a godsend (with the added bonus of some peaceful “Me Time”). If you arrive at your photo shoot feeling flustered or rushed, it will be a lot harder to capture a happy and fun energy in your photos.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Long gone are the days of the stuffy studio family portraits! Choose a location that means something to your family – whether it’s relaxing in the comfort of your own home, an afternoon down at your favourite beach, the place where you and your partner had your first date, or even a trip to your family’s favourite ice cream shop. The best family portraits are the ones that express the family’s uniqueness and personality.

Need some ideas? Check our Top 10 Locations in Toronto for your Family Photography Session!

ACT NATURAL

The best family photographs come from the most candid and relaxed moments; where everyone has forgotten the camera is even there, and they are just interacting with each other as they normally do. These photos are where your genuine love, laughter, and connection as a family will undeniably shine through. While it’s great to have a selection of shots where everyone is looking at the camera and smiling, you’re guaranteed to fall more in love with the intimate shots of your family looking natural and enjoying each other’s company.

HAVE FUN TOGETHER

No matter what age your children are, playing a game or doing an activity you enjoy together during your photo shoot is bound to set everyone at ease, and create some really fun, natural photos. Whether it’s stomping through crunchy fall leaves, playing hide and seek, or making pancakes, try to take the focus off the photo shoot for a moment and genuinely engage with each other. This will help your photographer capture the true essence and beauty of your family dynamic.

DON’T FORCE IT

Allow things to happen naturally during your photo shoot, and be flexible. It’s perfectly fine to have an idea in your head of how you’d like things to turn out, but always be open to spontaneity. Try not to worry about whether your children will cooperate, and never demand them to look at the camera and smile because your photos will end up looking strained and unnatural. If you have a great photographer, they will know exactly how to handle whatever personality or mood swing your children throw their way. Your photographer will work at the pace of the children, naturally coaxing them – and their genuine smiles – out of their shell. 

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Owner of Bellatrix Photography, Cami Mendes is a professional family & wedding photographer based in Toronto, Canada. With a unique talent for creating beautifully natural and candid shots, Cami’s photo shoots and portrait sessions help families, couples, and individuals capture moments they will cherish forever. Cami shoots in many cities across Ontario, including Oakville, Burlington, Mississauga, Milton, Vaughn, Richmond Hill, Collingwood, Muskoka, and the Niagara Falls region.

To book your family’s photography session with Cami, click here


10 Top Toronto Locations For Your Family Portrait Session

Summer holidays have finally arrived, so it’s time for the whole family to get out there and enjoy all the best this city has to offer! Toronto absolutely thrives in summer; sunny beaches, lush green parks, and cool urban hangs, all teamed up with longer days and warmer temps. Toronto is the perfect place for your family to make some fun holiday memories you’ll cherish forever – And what better way to capture these moments than with a family portrait session?

With so many great photo shoot locations, Toronto certainly makes for a picture perfect backdrop for your family’s portraits. Here are a few of our favorites…

Family Portraits shot in Toronto

Family Portraits shot in Toronto

Family Portraits shot in Toronto

Family Portraits shot in Toronto

Family Portraits shot in Toronto

Family Portraits shot in Toronto

Family Portraits shot in Toronto

Family Portraits shot in Toronto

Family Portraits shot in Toronto

Family Portraits shot in Toronto

Family Portraits shot in Toronto

Family Portraits shot in Toronto

Family Portraits shot in Toronto

Family Portraits shot in Toronto

Family Portraits shot in Toronto

Scarborough Bluffs

A trip to Scarborough Bluffs is an absolute MUST when in Toronto, especially during summer. With its white chalk cliffs, golden sand, crystal blue waters, and vibrant greenery, the Bluffs will almost have you feeling like you’ve been whisked away to a beautiful tropical island – and they will definitely give your family portraits the perfect summer vibe. Stretching over 15kms, the Bluffs boast a number of stunning spots to capture your family enjoying this natural wonder.

Graffiti Alley

Graffiti Alley offers a colorful and quirky backdrop for your photo shoot, and it’s definitely packed with a little more personality than your average family portrait location! This cool little alleyway by Queen and Spadina is one of Toronto’s most famous areas for street art. The artwork here is constantly changing, so your portraits at Graffiti Alley will always be totally unique to the time when you visited.

Distillery District

With its red brick walls and alleyways, cobblestone streets, 19th Century buildings, and interesting art installations, the historic Distillery District is undoubtedly one of Toronto’s most picturesque locations. Totally on-trend, the Distillery District will give your family portraits a modern, industrial-chic flair. The Distillery District is also a cultural hub of some of Toronto’s best shopping, restaurants, cafes, and galleries, making for a fun summer outing.

High Park

A more classic family photo shoot location, but nonetheless stunning, High Park offers some of Toronto’s best nature backdrops. Enjoy an afternoon of summer fun with the family, surrounded by High Park’s lush landscaping, beautiful flowers, and shady trees. Your family’s warm, natural glow will be captured perfectly as the golden afternoon sun glitters off the lake. High Park’s coveted Cherry Blossoms have unfortunately finished blooming by summer, but if you’d love to get some unforgettable family shots under their rosy pink petals, it’s best to organize your photo shoot for late April to early May.

Polson Pier

Polson Pier is the number one spot to capture Toronto’s cityscape across the sparkling waters of the Toronto Harbour. While Polson Pier is stunning during the day, it really shines upon sunset! The glowing orange-hued sky, matched with the distant glimmer of city lights, will give your family portraits a truly breathtaking backdrop. If you’re a Toronto local, you’ll love the opportunity this location gives you to capture your beautiful family, and your beautiful city, in one hit.

Evergreen Brickworks

Rich in history and attractions, Brickworks is a trendy urban location for your family portrait session. From exposed beams and graffiti-filled brick walls, to green gardens and grassy fields, to abandoned train tracks and antiques from the past, Brickworks has so many cool spaces to choose from, each offering its own distinct vibe for your photo shoot.

Sugar Beach

This oh-so-sweet location simply oozes with summer vibes and provides a perfectly pretty backdrop for your family portrait session. Sugar Beach is one of Toronto’s most unique urban parks right on the waterfront, famous for its golden sand dotted with maple trees, cute candy pink umbrellas, and laid back Muskoka chairs. Not only is Sugar Beach an amazing photo shoot location, but it will also make for a fun summer outing with the family.

Osgoode Hall

If you’re looking for a more traditional and sophisticated setting for your family portrait session, look no further than the grand Osgoode Hall and its grounds. This heritage building is a historic Toronto landmark and has been a highly sought-after photo shoot location for years. Gorgeous Victorian buildings, beautifully landscaped gardens, and classic stone columns and staircases will give your portraits an unmistakable air of elegance.

Ripley’s Aquarium

Your family portraits will certainly make a splash with the beautiful blue glow of Ripley’s Aquarium as the backdrop! Not only is visiting Ripley’s Aquarium a fun day out with the family, it also makes for a totally unique and out-of-the-ordinary photo shoot location. Providing a much more relaxed and candid setting for your portraits, this space will help you capture your family’s authentic expressions of wonder and joy as they explore the exhibitions.

Sweet Jesus

For a fun, offbeat, and colorful photo shoot location you (and your kids!) will love, head to Toronto’s famous Sweet Jesus ice cream shop. This creative Toronto-born business is home to some very delicious, very Instagram-worthy ice cream creations, and the shop’s color-popping backdrop of bubblegum blue will create a totally unique and unforgettable setting for your family portraits. And, after all, what’s better than a family trip to the ice cream shop in the summer holidays?! 

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Owner of Bellatrix Photography, Cami Mendes is a Toronto-based professional family, lifestyle, and wedding photographer.  With many years experience in shooting family and children’s photography and portraits, Cami has a unique talent for making every child feel comfortable in front of the camera, resulting in beautiful, natural shots. Whether it’s genuine laughter, a cheeky smile, or a look of curiosity and wonder, Cami will capture your child’s pure essence in every photo shoot.

To book your family photography session with Cami, click here.  

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