Tips to Nail Your Session With a North Shore Family Photographer!

A fall portrait of a brother and sister sitting in a field during their north shore family photographer session

Have you thought about a family portrait session but started feeling overwhelmed and full of dread when considering what goes into it? You’re not alone. Many clients say they put off family photos because it seemed like a lot of work and stress or because they had an experience with a North Shore family photographer that just wasn’t the best. Even if the photos turn out okay, who wants a memory on their walls of a terrible time with your family at a portrait session? 

This is why I work so closely with my clients to make sure their sessions are successful in terms of beautiful photos on the wall so EVERYONE has a great time. 

Ways to Increase Loving Your Family Photos

If this is your first professional family portrait session, or if you’ve had one of those less-than-ideal experiences, then I’m going to let you in on the secret behind having a great portrait session here in Chicago and its north shore: the work you do before the session will make all the difference in the photos.

mom and  dad pose outdoors with their newborn  during their north shore family photographer session

Choosing your North Shore Family Photographer

When you surf through websites to see family photos, pay attention to the photographer’s style. Do you see a lot of very posed photos? A lot of props? What do you like (or dislike) about the photos?

My style is a blend of lifestyle and connection, so the photos I show are very interactive (kids in motion, families hugging and walking) and some loosely posed portraiture. This style attracts people who want to see some personality in their photos rather than a very posed and classical style of portrait photography. 

If a new client wanted me to do a very stylized session with props and specific looks to the photos, that would not be a good fit for my style, and I’d refer them to another photographer.

So, when you scroll through the websites, make sure you love the photos of the photographer you choose. You may not know why you love a particular photo. But if you tell the photographer which photos you love in their portfolio, they will know what you mean!

mom and son holding hands on the beach looking at each other during their north shore  family photographer session

The Best Time of Year to Schedule Outdoor Photos With Your North Shore Family Photographer

In the Midwest and on the north shore of Chicago, the weather tends to be suitable for outdoor photography from about May to October. The time of the year will influence the look of your photos! 

Consider the aesthetic of your home, as well. What colors and seasons would look good on your walls?

Spring Sessions

When those first “real spring” days rear their head in Chicago, energy is high, and it’s a time that kids love to be able to get outside! 

The trees are green and blooming, and the feel resembles a muted pastel palette. If you like a bright and airy look, spring is a great time to consider a session.

Days are starting to get longer, but sunset is still generally pretty early, so you might want to consider that when it comes to naps, dinner time, and bedtime. We want to avoid the bright overhead sun, preferring early morning or late afternoon sessions. 

Spring can be unpredictable weather-wise, so when people schedule, we have to consider those crazy days when the weather changes 30 degrees in one day.

However, if you can be a little flexible about switching your time session if that happens, spring is a really lovely time to have family portraits made.

twin girls sitting in field of white flowers brother and sister sitting together

Summer Sessions

We all know how much Midwesterners love their summers, so this is a great time to get the entire family together. You don’t have to worry as much about inclement weather or layering clothing.

Summer gives us many opportunities in terms of places to do sessions; there are many parks, beaches, and other beautiful outdoor areas to do sessions right around Glendale and the Lake Forest area.

Days are long in the summer, so we need to be mindful of the best time to photograph, which can be later in the evening. This time is called the “golden hour,” when the sun is slanted and makes for gorgeous portraits.

This time can coincide with your little one’s early bedtime, so before you get your heart set on a summer session, let’s check when the golden hour/sunset is.

A mom holds her daughter's hand while looking back at her family on the beach

Fall Sessions

Popular because of the fall foliage, late September and October are simply gorgeous in the Midwest for a family portrait session.

Many people love the sessions’ more rustic and nature-toned look, and the light is beautiful for photography most of the early morning and late afternoon until sunset.

The weather does dictate the color of the trees, and it’s always a guessing game when “peak” is. Still, there are so many beautiful places to choose from in Glendale for a fall family portrait session. I have many locations to suggest, depending on the look you want for your portraits.

family hugging and laughing  north shore north shore family photographer session

Selling the Portrait Session to Your Family

Having an excellent experience for your Chicago family photography session starts from the minute you decide to have a session. I can’t stress this enough: if you hire a professional, listen to them and follow their lead.

When I’ve had clients who were overly stressed about their kids (or their husbands) behaving during the session, it shows. Children can sniff out fear; if you spend weeks cajoling or coaching them, it’s a surefire way to get them to act out during the session.

The Secret Sauce for Perfect Family Photos With Your North Shore Family Photographer

The “perfect” family photo session is one where you get photos that look like YOUR family. If you approach this session like any other fun outing, like going to the beach or out to dinner, then that’s how your kids will see it.

The good news is it takes only one good experience to make annual family photos fun for everyone. My sessions are highly interactive, so kids enjoy them! But kids are kids, so leave the directions and the guidance to me during the session. I’ve got lots of tricks up my sleeve!

One other tip: don’t bribe for smiles. You want to normalize having a session, and expecting them to work for treats often backfires. There’s an age where almost every kid adopts this horrible “cheesy smile,” and if they are bribed, they will insist that they are smiling, and that’s very hard to argue with!

Of course, rewarding good behavior after the session is encouraged, but resist the urge to offer them a bribe before the session.

a family portrait on the beach with all hugging closely and smiling

What to Wear to Your Session With Your North Shore Family Photographer

Right after worrying about how to wrangle the kids is usually this worry: what to wear? This is easily one of the top-of-the-mind questions before the session. Still, I want to assure you that choosing clothes does not have to be complicated, nor do you need to go out and purchase all new clothing for your family.

I provide all my clients with a style guide that helps them choose the right outfits for their sessions. Here are just a few of the things I highlight!

Matchy-Matchy is Out

The khaki and white shirt or jeans and chambray shirt look is one you want to avoid; your photos should have a personality like the people in them! Avoid dressing twins alike, in all one color palette, or having everyone in black and white.

Neutrals ALWAYS Work

When in doubt, go back to the basics and think of neutral creams, beiges, and tans. These colors look great on every skin tone and can have added pops of color with accessories like scarves and hats. The brighter the color, the less there should be across the whole family!

A portrait of a mom and dad with their young children playing on the beach

Avoid These Things in Photographs With Your North Shore Family Photographer

Bold stripes and solids dominate the eye, so go easy on them and use them sparingly. Blacks should be saved for your accessories, and navy should be kept to a minimum. Also, avoid neons anywhere, including on kids’ shoes. Ditch winter jackets, layer up, and use puffer vests or scarves for a pop of texture.

Check the Shoes

Comfortable, well-polished shoes are a must. Since my sessions are a bit adventurous, I recommend my clients wear flats or shoes that can move on uneven ground. Don’t try out shoes for the first time at sessions because we don’t want painful blisters ruining the moments!

Dresses ALWAYS Photograph Beautifully

For mom, a dress will flatter you in all the right places. Choose one that is easy to move in and that you feel great in. The natural movement of the dress photographs beautifully, and you’ll look put together without feeling overly dressed up.

Check out my Pinterest Guide for some outfit inspiration!

close up of mom and young son hugging  at their north shorefamily photographer session

Pets are Always Welcome!

I’m always happy to include your furry family member in your portraits! I suggest you bring a familiar “wrangler” to entertain the dog when they are not being photographed, and bring plenty of treats and water.

Personalizing the Photos for Kids

If there are special items in your child’s life you want in the photos, bring them along! These items can provide comfort to children, and they make for great memories later on. Favorite stuffed animals, blankets, special books, or toys are a great example.

three brothers posing on front porch with dog

On The Day of Your Family Portrait Session

Now that your session is here, the hardest part is over! Truly, RELAX!! After getting everyone out of the house, you only need to let your professional photographer take over.

Arrive a little early so you don’t feel rushed and so the kids can explore a little. Then get ready to take some fantastic photos with your North Shore family photographer. 

Your session is bound to be a success now that you have a plan in place. Those photos you hang on the wall will remind you of the good times you had with your kids.

Schedule Your Session With Your North Shore Family Photographer

If you are thinking about a family photo session on the north shore of Chicago or the greater Chicagoland and you’re looking for authentic lifestyle photos, contact me. I’d love to help you create some lasting memories and some great photos! While you’re here, check out some more of my blog posts below!

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