Unlock The Secrets To Great Family Photos

family photos

Unlock these secrets to great family photos and snag amazing family portraits every time. What's not a secret is that family photos can be a real headache. The great news is that they don't have to be.

For more than 20 years I've created beautiful family photos in Pittsburgh and beyond. In that time I've developed a system that will ensure your family photos are as stress-free as possible.

Follow my formula and find yourself enjoying family picture day and loving the photos you take home as a result.

Amazing Family Photo Secrets

Here is my list of amazing family photo secrets that will ensure your family photo session is fun and that the photos that come from that session are incredible. These secrets are broken down by when to do them in regards to your family photo session.

Find A Family Photographer

This all starts with finding a family photographer who works with and for you. There are so many talented and wonderful photographers out there. That doesn't mean they'll all deliver the family photo experience you deserve.

Finding the right photographer to photograph your family will make everything else far easier. The right photographer will be someone whose work (both their photos and how they interact with you) makes you feel comfortable and good about the experience.

Should You Ask Your Friends Who They Use?

Personal references are great but asking your friends who they used to take their family photos might not be the best idea. First, every family is different. If you've got similar tastes, similar budgets, and a lot of other stuff in common it might be a great idea. That said, it's not a guarantee that you'll get the best photos possible.

How Do You Find Your Family Photographer?

This is the first and somewhat hardest step because you've got to know a lot about your family and what your needs are when it comes to a family portrait photographer. The good news is that you can use this checklist to help you sort through all of the family photographers in your area.

Book A Family Photographer

Once you've narrowed your search it's time to book your family photographer. This seems like a straigh-forward thing but here are a few tips that will help this step go even smoother.

Budget Friendly vs. Client Focused

Photographers can either be budget friendly or client focused. There's nothing wrong with either one. Being budget friendly doesn't mean bad pictures not does client focused guarantee great photos. That said, budget friendly photographers pack their schedule which gives you benefits in terms of price but the photographer will likely not have a lot of time to spend with you. A brief mini-session might work perfectly for you but if you want someone who offers a bit more attention look for photographers who are client focused.

In Demand Times

Even client focused photographers can be hard to book during their most in demand times. The summer is often an ideal time for family photos. However, it's also the busiest time for photographers. If you can, book your photos closer to Spring or Fall. You might even be able to negotiate a small price break if winter works for you.

Peak Days

Summer is not only busy but weekends tend to be peak days even in slower seasons. For this reason it's often easier to find a photographer on a day when your kids have a half-day of school. This may even help you to book a budget friendly photographer and to get them while they're a bit more focused.

Schedule Your Family Photo Session

The photographer's schedule isn't the only one that matters when it comes to your family photo session. The biggest bit of advice I can offer to families is to know the rhythm of your kids. Understanding when they'll be more focused, less tired, and more interested in being photographed goes a long way to a successful session.

Additionally, if you're trying to get your kids to cooperate and they just won't for any reason ask about a reschedule. You may need to pay a small fee to cancel on the day. That said, you need to weigh what's more important. Your and your kids sanity is important.


No photographer likes to reschedule shoots but the best family photographers will understand. Like I said, you might have a cancellation or rescheduling fee. However, the photos you'd have gotten from a day when your kiddo(s) were unwilling were likely not going to be very good. Great photographers understand that rescheduling is part of being a family photographer.

Yours and your kids mental health matters far more than what would otherwise be a bad photo session.

Prepare For Your Family Photos

When it comes to preparing for your family photos there are two things that make a huge difference. First, you've got to get enough sleep. You should be well rested before your photo shoot. Second, you need to be well hydrated.

I didn't say these were all going to be easy. It's understandable if rest and drinking water seem like monumental tasks. You're a parent after all. This makes it fully understandable if you don't get enough rest.

Other Considerations

Some other things to consider are your outfits. Additionally, make sure to make any hair appointments and so forth well in advance. I hope it goes without saying but don't try something new haircuts, facial peels, etc. before your session. I can't tell you how many times I've seen these things go wrong. Even if your hair looks great you might not feel confident about the cut yet and that can show.

Your Pre-Session Checklist

To make your family photo session go smoothly use a pre-session checklist. Know what you're all wearing, where the session will take place, and any other details that you've discussed with your photographer. Here is an article I wrote that can help you craft your own checklist.

You should be hiring a photographer who you can trust. As a result you should be able to rely on them to help you be as prepared as possible before your session. Be sure to check with them. If they don't have a lot of ideas that's not always a bad thing. However, if you ever don't feel comfortable, you can always cancel and find a different photographer.

Secrets To Your Family Photo Session Success

It all leads up to this, the day of your family photo session. The secrets to success at your session begins before the session. As already mentioned being well rested is important. Too, feeling your best the day of is critical.

Family Photos Are A Team Effort

You need your whole team to be on board. If you're a two-parent household make sure you're both carrying equal weight. Often times I see mom's doing all the lifting. If that's how your situation works and it works for you great. However, I find family photos to look better when mom has a little bit of time to devote to herself too.

Family Portrait Partner Support

Many families have one takes-charge parent but if you'd like the other parent to provide more support I can help. Check out this article I wrote for Mother's Day that touches on the need to spread the load when it comes to family photo sessions.

Your Family Photographer

The biggest secret to your success is going to be your family photographer. Your family photographer is your biggest secret weapon. When you've got the right family photographer you'll have very little to worry about.

Pittsburgh Family Photographer

If you're in Pittsburgh and are looking for a family photographer I'd love to speak with you. Take a look at my family portrait page and get in touch if you like what you see. If you enjoy reading my articles subscribe to my monthly newsletter for loads of great information.

February 12, 2023 | Don Orkoskey
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Family Portraits
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