• Robyn Davie

How To Get the Most Out Of Your Family Photo Shoot

Hello! So you've booked your family photo session and are wondering how best to prep for it? Well, all the answers are in this post :)

Please read all the way to the bottom as there's tons of info on what to wear, the best location to shoot in, why the light is so important and what to bring along on your shoot.


So now you've booked a session and are ready to shoot ~

First up, don't stress!

My style of shooting is all about capturing relaxed candid moments.

My hope is that in ten years time you'll be able to look back at these pictures and see a moment in time - things just as they were.

Don't worry too much about the small details, I'll be keeping a keen eye for anything that's not quite fitting into the frame; all you have to do is take a deep breath and have fun!


My number one goal is that you look good in your pictures, and are happy with the resulting product! Let me do my job, and try and enjoy the process :)

I would love to hear your ideas and suggestions though!

I know that this photo shoot means a lot to you, and trust me, it means a lot to me too! I LOVE it when my clients send me snaps of the framed pics on their lounge wall, or the photo books they've created from our sessions.

By the time I present you with the final product I have spent hours chatting to you via email/phone calls, getting to know you and your family at the actual shoot, carefully selecting and editing each and every wonderful moment from the shoot, and crafting a story of the day. Trust me - I'm invested in this process!

Getting positive feedback from my photo shoots makes me giddy with joy, as each little picture is a mini artwork to me!


The most important thing for any photo shoot is the LIGHT.

Taking photographs is all about the light. The most magical pictures happen when the light is soft and delicious - during the hour of sunrise or sunset.

I tend to aim to shoot in the late afternoon/early evening - around 6pm in summer and 4pm in winter.

Direct sunlight creates hard shadows and squinty faces, which doesn't look good on anyone! Full shade is going to be best for all photographs!

Feel free to read this post about the magic of magic hour if you'd like to know a little bit more about the right time of day to shoot.


Be aware that what we're capturing is more than just posed moments - we're looking for tiny fun candid pics too - the tickles, the cuddles, the giggles. Not every photo has to be posed to camera.

My style of shooting is more documentary than about set-up poses - so tell me before hand what some of your favourite things to do as a family are - playing boardgames, eating ice-cream or going to the park for example - and we'll definitely try to get pics of those things! We're creating memories here :)

Here is some inspiration.


I know, this sounds CRAZY! But it makes the biggest difference! I'll tell you as soon as I'm ready for you all to look up at the camera and grab a cheesy posed pic. But for the most part, pretend I'm not even there. Look at each other, tickle, cuddle, play, and we'll end up with far better pics than if you're all staring at me! :)

Sometimes you really have to drive this point home with grandparents and aunts and uncles - granted, it is tricky, as it's been ingrained in us to look at the camera, but maybe send them this blog post, so they know what we're on about :)


Let the kids be kids! Silly faces are the best kind of faces (and will make for one amazing slideshow at their 21st - hehe!)

And don't get too stressed out if they're a bit unruly during the photo shoot - all kids are! There's a brand new person snapping pics of them, and often they like to show off a little bit. This is a great chance for me to get some fun pics of them in their bedrooms, or on the playground, just having fun!

Also though, you know your kids better than anyone - and you know all too well that if they've missed their nap, or are feeling a little under the weather, it's going to be tricky to coax a smile out of them.

Please do let me know as soon as you can if you think it's going to be better to reschedule the shoot (even if it is the day of!). I try to be as flexible as possible with family shoots, as happy babies and happy kids make for the best pictures - and that's all I want - for you guys to be happy with your pictures!


Take a moment for a special photo with each child. During the shoot I'll do my best to make sure that each family member gets a one-on-one, but please do let me know if there's any special combinations that you'd like to not miss out on - grandparents and grandkids for example!


Your kids love you just the way you are - every smile line, every wrinkle, every little part of you. They will always remember you the way you are right now - strong, brave, loving and everything they need in the world. Take a deep breath, let go of your insecurities, and bathe in their love for an afternoon.

It will really show in the final photos.


I get it, I really do. It's the weekend, the rugby's on, there's a cold beer in the fridge, and all you want to do is chill on the couch in your slouchy shorts.

So I'm going to make you a promise - I promise to make this whole thing as quick and painless as possible! I've heard of photographers doing four-hour photo sessions with families - I'm not one of those photographers! My aim is to get you back on the couch within an hour (maybe a leeeeeeeeettle bit longer if you have a big family!).

If you can give us that much, I also promise to give you some photos that you'll treasure for the rest of your life!

Far too often a grumpy, fussy dad can totally ruin the mood of the whole shoot - the kids pick up on the vibes and also don't want to be involved! So pretty please, play along :)


Taking your first family photos with your new munchkin?

Don't wake the sweet little baba up before I get there! If your little guy or girl is sleeping when I get there it's completely fine! We can get adorable photos in the crib, in your arms and on your bed all while he/she sleeps, and let them wake up naturally.

A good rule of thumb when you have a new little one in the family is to start with the pictures of the older siblings first. It's a great opportunity to keep the focus on them. I like spending some time with the big kids in their rooms - seeing their favourite toys, and just hanging out. This way they don't get too jealous of all the focus being on the new little addition, and as they get bored of the shoot we can switch over to the little one.


These big photo shoots can sometimes be a whole another kettle of fish!

I would recommend having treats on standby for the kids, and wine for the adults, hehe! Depending on where we're shooting, we may even take a quick five-minute break to refuel during the session.

We'll work through getting a whole bunch of different combinations on the posed pictures front, and then aim to head to a park or play area where some great candid photos can take place. Even all bundled on a picnic blanket, or around a table can be a great way to finish out the shoot. Please do let me know if there's anything you guys love doing together - playing cards, or eating ice-cream for example. These great activites can really break the ice, and help everyone get into the candid pics.


Wondering what to wear to your family photo shoot session? I've written an entire blog post with tips and tricks for organising a great coordinated wardrobe for the whole family. Read it here.

I always find that it is lovely to choose a couple of colour hues and work out outfits around that - blues or greens always work well, though it's also fun to get a pop of colour, stripes or dots in the kids outfits.

IN AUTUMN/WINTER - the most important thing in the colder months is to avoid dull browns and black jackets. Read over this blog post to know exactly how to prepare for an autumn/winter photo shoot.

A few wardrobe tips and tricks:

It is a good idea to have two or three outfits worked out ahead of time, as this speeds up the shooting on the day, and saves us from wasting precious time and light (also just check which package you've booked, as some only include one outfit change! This is also entirely optional, and is up to you if you'd prefer to just stick with one outfit for the shoot).

Please make sure that everyone is groomed and dressed in their first shoot outfit when I arrive.

Try and avoid the following:

- the ol' white tees & blue jeans combo!

- visible wording or branding

- patterns that are very bold or harsh

- clothing that is too tight, or too loose

- too many people wearing white as it will over-expose

- black or very dark colours as it under-exposes

- too much red (as it brings out the red in your skin tone)

- lumo colours

Primarily my photos are focused on head-and-shoulders, so don't worry too much about changing pants and shoes if you are doing a wardrobe change. Especially if we're shooting at Delta Park, a quick easy change can involve a sweater/jersey, or scarf/accessories.


A lot of families ask me what they should bring along on their family photo shoot - props and the like. Ideally the less you bring along the better - especially if we're heading to a park - lugging things around isn't ideal. A small picnic (snacks and drinks keep everyone happy!), maybe a treasured toy, or some bubbles.

Using props is completely not me - I love pics to be as natural and real as possible. Please read over this post to learn a bit more about my photographic style.


We can either shoot at your family home, or at Delta Park.

If you'd like to shoot at your family home there are a few things to consider - the best pictures are going to be taken in big clutter-free rooms, filled with natural light. If you don't have too many of those, let's head out into the garden - a great patio makes for awesome pics, and a shaded garden.

Some of my absolute favourite photo shoots have happened at Delta Park - my best spot for shooting outdoor family sessions! The light is beautiful, there's a great variety of spots to shoot (picnic, forest and playground vibes for example), and it's generally speaking pretty central in Johannesburg.

Please read over this post on why I love Delta Park sessions so much!


I love sharing my images online, but would never do so without your express permission.

Once I have edited your photos, and sent you a sneak peek, I will send an email asking if I may share them online - but don't feel pressured! It's completely up to you.

If you would however like to share the pics from your session (and I love it when you do!), please do credit me, as each one is a little piece of artwork to me. Here's the easy way:

Robyn Davie Photography

WEB: www.robyndavie.com

FB: www.facebook.com/robyndaviephotography

IG: @robyndaviephoto

TW: @robyndaviephoto

Please do let me know if you have any questions or concerns ahead of time - these things are always easier to handle in advance.

Please do find me on facebook and follow me there, as I often have great give-aways and promos!

Please note: I am a fun, laid-back photographer, who will make your booking, photo shoot and post-production process as simple and easy as possible! I am not a studio photographer, and do not have a studio. My style is all about capturing life just as it is, so we'll shoot in your family home or a great outdoor location such as Delta Park. I do not provide wardrobe, and think the best props are tickles, cuddles and smiles! I do not under any circumstances release raw or unedited photographs.

Please note that by paying your 50% deposit you agree to the information outlined in this blog post and accept it as one would accept terms and conditions.


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