How To Prepare For Your Outdoor Family Photoshoot

Outdoor shoots create more natural looking photos, and they can be a refreshing change from a studio shoot. There’s always a bit of excitement and adventure when families travel to their favorite weekend or vacation spot, and it creates something much more special than a studio shoot.

Before the day of the shoot, the photographer will usually ask questions about time of day, shoot location, style and other preferences you and your family may have. Be sure to discuss any ideas or visions you have for your shoot with your photographer well in advance.

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your outdoor family photoshoot:


What is the purpose of the photoshoot? Yearly family photos? A birthday, graduation or anniversary? Or are you just looking for a special portrait to hang on your wall? Whatever the occasion, make sure you inform the photographer of the purpose of the shoot, so he or she can prepare appropriately. Think about any props you may want to use, like balloons, flowers, chairs, signs, etc. You can also get ideas by searching online for “outdoor family photo shoot ideas”, and then make sure you share these ideas with your photographer in advance.


Photographers may give you time slots to choose from, or they may ask you what time of day you’d prefer. The hour after sunrise and before sunset is called the “Golden Hour”, and it’s considered ideal for shooting because the sunlight is softer. This can make your photos more attractive, so think about whether or not you’d like to shoot around these times. Make sure the time slot works for all of your family members. This can be a bit trickier if you’ve got a large group, including grandparents, aunts and uncles. It’s important to plan on arriving early to the location, especially if you’ve never been there before. Make sure you allow enough time for hair and makeup, either before or after your arrival. Lastly, give your photographer enough time to set-up and do test shots to adjust his or her camera settings to the outdoor lighting.


Depending on the purpose of the shoot, you may need to hire a hair and makeup artist or get some of your friends to do it. For family photoshoots in broad daylight, natural makeup is ideal, while photoshoots done in low light may need heavier makeup coverage. Think about what everyone will wear, and give yourself enough time to purchase any items you may not have. Make sure you take everyone’s style tastes into account so everyone feels comfortable and happy during the shoot. And sometimes allowing little ones to wear their favorite piece of clothing, like a tutu or cowboy boots they’ve worn everyday for the last six months, can make for a sweet photo and a great memory years from now.


This is sometimes the trickiest part in every family photoshoot---smiling for the camera, giving big hugs, and making sure everyone looks happy and natural during the photoshoot. Your photographer will have lots of pose suggestions for you, but if you want a particular pose or look, be sure to let your photographer know in advance. It’s a good idea to let the children go first in the photoshoot because of their short attention span. After the children, let the grandparents and pregnant women go next. It’s also a good idea to bring a bag with children’s toys, snacks, medications and any other items needed by each member of the family.


Some shots need time to compose and even more time to edit, so a lot of patience is needed for your family to get the perfect outdoor family portraits. Although the photoshoot may only take an hour or so, editing the raw photos can be a long and grueling process. Give your photographer a couple of weeks to get the finished product to you.


Katie Conlon is a young freelance writer who recently graduated from a university filmmaking program. She manages the blog and social media program for video equipment maker ProAm USA. When not on her laptop, Katie can be found snapping images of friends and family, or hiking outdoors with her beloved dog Turner.