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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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. 


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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. 


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

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