Alright Mama’s. I feel you. Sometimes one of the most stressful things about scheduling a photo session is wondering what to wear, where to shoot, and if little Johnny doesn’t get a nap, will he smile, like, at all?
I’m here to tell you that family photo sessions don’t have to be something you dread! So say goodbye to trying to fit everyone on the studio backdrop at the department store (and if you do that, totally no judgement, you do you, boo). Say sayonara to making everyone sit perfectly on a blanket in the tall wheat grass at sunset (though, if you love those types of sessions, I’m totally game… my heart still loves them too). Say see ya later to worrying about a perfect session. And when you’re done with all of that, say hello to a new fun session that screams “THIS IS SO MY FAMILY!” and get excited about your next family photo session.
PS. Sorry for writing in all caps… I just wanted you to feel my excitement.
You see, I believe that every family is different and we’re all in different life seasons. Some of us just brought home our first born, others are in the throws of daily life with littles, and some are preparing their hearts for their once little babes to leave the nest as they head off to college. Life is happening all around us, ready or not.
So if you’re looking for a stress-free, totally you, incredibly unique session (pave the road, my friend, all your friends will be wanting one too) then talk to your photographer about some of these creative photo session ideas for families.
We’ve all seen greenhouse sessions, but let’s take it a step further. Do you have your own garden at home? Get everyone together to tend the garden. Bonus points if you make a meal together featuring the fruits of your labor.
Day at the Field
If you’ve got school-age kiddos, it’s highly likely that some of your Saturday mornings are going to be spent at the (soccer, baseball, insert the sport of your choice here) field. This type of session is so fun for many reasons. How great will it be for little Sally to look back at these photos one day and see herself in her beginning days of soccer. To relive all the details of a day at the field, complete with snack shack nachos and snow-cones. Even better than all of that… how amazing would it be to be able to show her the support system that she had? You know I’m talking to you, mom and dad. Every cheer of her name, every tear when she made the winning goal, how proud of her you were and still are. Now those are memories worth documenting.
Love to spend a night in the great outdoors? Grab the tent and the fishing gear and let’s do something a little different. Document the way you showed the kiddos how to hook their worm to the pole, the size of the fish they reeled in on their very first try, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, all the things you do on a trip to nature. End the night by roasting marshmallows by the campfire and looking up at the stars.
A Day at the Beach
I love a good beach day, probably because I spent days at the beach in San Diego every summer. It was there that I learned how to boogie board and tried my hand at surfing. The smell of sunscreen, the light wind flowing through my hair, the waves crashing at the break, it all brings me back to those fond memories. If you’re like me and your family loves to spend time on the coast, consider having your photographer document a day at the beach, complete with seashell hunting, sandcastle building, and naps in the sand.
Go to an Amusement Park
If you’ve got older kids and rides are your thing, consider bringing your photographer along to document the day. From funnel cake to the merry-go-round, your photographer can capture the togetherness and also all the fun of spending the day at the amusement park. Don’t have an amusement park nearby? What about the fair?! Petting zoos, ferris wheels, cotton candy, allll the good stuff.
*I will note that it’s important for your photographer to double check that the park would allow photographs. Some parks might charge a permit, your photographer will be able to tell you if that’s the case.
Play Mini Golf
This could be a really fun session. And even one for couples. Hi, date night. I’m only bringing this one up because there’s a mini golf place not far from our house and literally every time I pass it, I think to myself, how cute would it be to do a fun session there?? So I’m just throwing the idea your way!
Visit a Museum
Some museums DO actually allow photography inside. And if you’re expecting yucky weather, this might be a good option. The kids can explore and we can all learn something new together. Stop for a bite to eat in the museum cafe and you’ve got yourself a sweet little session full of adventure and togetherness.
Check out an Aquarium
Last year, we took a week long vacation to Chicago. We did all the site-seeing, touristy things and it was literally one of the best vacations we’ve been on. If you’re thinking about a trip to Chicago, I’ve got a post full of tips and tricks here. Anyway, while we were there, we visited the aquarium and while quite small, it was a fun experience and super family-friendly. Here’s the photo I imagine capturing there: it’s you and your little one standing up against a wall-to-wall exhibit. Sharks or dolphins or fish – you name your sea animal here – are gliding through the water. You’re at your little’s level, your hand on their back, and your soaking in every second of their awe. They reach up their little hand and point as the fish swim by. And instead of pulling out your phone to document this quiet moment, your photographer is at the back of the room, framing this photo with you and your little in the center of a really big, really beautiful background. Most importantly, you’re present in the moment.
Get Ice Cream
Picture this: It’s the heat of the summer and this adorable ice cream shop/snow-cone shack/dessert food truck just opening in your little town. And you’ve been meaning to take the family there for a little outing. Grab your photographer and let them document this outing for you. They’ll be sure to grab all the details from big picture of all the kids sitting on the curb right outside the shop to the the ice cream drips rolling down little hands and settling on little sandled toes. It may seem odd to capture something super ordinary. But I promise you, friend. There is JOY in the ordinary and these are the things you’ll want to remember.
It’s Saturday morning. You wake to the heavenly smell of pancakes and coffee. You walk softly down the hall and stop just short of the kitchen. You peak around the corner and watch as your littles and your significant other mix pancake batter, adding all too many chocolate chips. There’s flour on the counter, the dog’s licking something off the floor, but the sweet sound of giggles and laughter bring a smile across your face. These moments, these sweet weekend traditions, these are the one’s that you want to remember always. Their laughter, how truly little they once were, the togetherness of your family. This is a session that’s always at the top of my list.
Movie Night/Game Night
Whether you love to pick a movie and get cozy on the couch with popcorn or pick a game and invite friends over for some friendly competition, movie nights and game nights would be great to document, especially if you do them on the reg. Here’s what I love about having your photographer tag along on these types of nights: YOU get to be in the picture, YOU get to play too, YOU get to be all present, while someone else is sure to preserve these memories for you to relive later on.
When I was little, every single night I would get into bed and then call down the hall for my dad to come tuck me in. He would come in, rub my back, say goodnight, and turn the lights out. That was my bedtime routine. It’s true my friends, that the days are long but the years are short. Document these routines while they’re still just that. Because someday, you’ll wake up and your little one will be able to head to bed on their own.
Does your little one like to prep dinner? Or maybe you and your significant other like to cook a hearty meal for your family together, while the kiddos play in the living room. Whatever your dinner routine looks like, is there any better way to capture true family togetherness than around the dining table. I love food. A little while ago, I decided to start trying out food photography. And in the process of learning and practicing, I began to think about the family aspect centered around food. We get together share space and a meal around holidays, birthdays, special events. Food and togetherness go, well… together. Consider having your family dinner documented next time!
Alright so there’s 13 creative photo session ideas for your next family photo session. Need some help getting inspired? I can help! I’ve created a free worksheet to help get your creative juices flowing and thinking about what you do as a family. So grab a glass of wine (or coffee of that’s more your thang), download the free worksheet below, and let’s start planning your next family photo session!