Family sessions are some of my favorite to shoot, unfortunately they tend to be some of the more stressful shoots I do. Parents often come to the session with an agenda or have no idea what to expect at all. My three tips are as follows: Arrive with an open mind, interact with each other, and control what you are able to control. As a photographer, my goal is to capture memories of your family in how you interact with each other, the more at home and relaxed everyone is, the better the photos!
Come with an open mind:
When you arrive at your session, you will often have a specific shot in mind or an expectation of how the session will go. Absolutely let your photographer know that you would like this shot, but also let the photographer work their magic. You are there, so have fun! We only have so much time in our lives, enjoy everything you do.
Interact with each other:
Some of the best photos I have taken of families, are ones where no one is paying attention to the camera. Relax and enjoy the moment. The photographer will call attention where needed. Let things happen naturally, laugh a little, tickle each other, and have fun!
Control what you can:
This, in my opinion, is one of the most important ones. You can control your own body, not your child, not your significant other - only your own. It is difficult to expect children to listen to you when they are bored or over stimulated. I have seen children come to a shoot super excited and in an amazing mood. Because the child was not behaving exactly how their mother wanted, their mother started getting firm, annoyed, and stressed. As a result, this child's mindset quickly changed and he became difficult to work with as everything he was doing was suddenly wrong and he got frustrated. When children get a little, they give a little. They don't understand why they need to sit down and put their hands in their pockets, but they will do it if they have something to look forward to right after! This goes the same with your significant other. I see many coming to a session who are not interested what so ever. See if there's anything we can incorporate in the shoot that would get him/her interested! Your family belong to the Jedi academy? Let's get a shot of everyone with lightsabers (after we get the great family one first!). When you give some, you're able to get some.
If you come to the session ready to have some fun, you will walk away with a great snap shot, representing your family as it is today.