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Preparing for your Family Lifestyle Photo Shoot - Don't do what I did

If I can give you one piece of advice for preparing for your lifestyle photo shoot it is this:

Don’t do what I did!

Towards the beginning of the year, before 2020 turned into the mess it currently is, we had our family photos taken while away on holiday. You would think, with me being a Melbourne Family Photographer, I would know how to prepare my family for a photo shoot… well let me take you through the disaster that was the lead up to our Lifestyle Family Photography Session.

How I prepared for my Family’s Photo Shoot

First and foremost, the weather threw the biggest curve ball which resulted in our lifestyle photography photo shoot being rescheduled from a sunset session to sunrise session the next morning.

Side note, we had scheduled our photo shoot at a small coastal town we were holidaying at, as part of a bigger vacation within South Africa. Therefore, we only had that specific morning left to get the photos done. Added to this, we had a long road trip back on that day, which meant we had to pack up and have everything in the car and everyone ready to go (looking photo-worthy) all before sunrise.

Now at the best of times I am not a morning person - it’s one thing being on the viewfinder side of the camera early morning, but suddenly we had to be on the other side of the camera, looking great, all before sunrise… eek.

Then came the unexpected (and literally can’t make this stuff up) shenanigans…

While drying my hair with my trusty, but hardly ever used travel hairdryer, it became so hot that it melted itself. In hindsight, I should have realised its wires were crossed somewhere, as the off switch just made the thing blow faster! So my hair was half done.

Add to this, I went to iron hubby’s shirt and of course the B&B’s iron was dodgy as hell (again, with hindsight, when you pour water into the iron and it pours right out the steam holes it’s probably not all that safe to use) and needless to say kept tripping the power. I did manage to get the collar and button part of the shirt relatively smooth using my hair straightener…

Early the next morning we got the car packed and got ourselves ready in relatively good time, but still running behind schedule. When I woke my 3 y/o daughter she jolted out of bed asking “oh have a I missed the photo shoot?” I had talked the session up the whole day before and kept reminding her that we were going to be getting up really early. Judging from her waking comment, she seriously took it on board and I fear I was responsible for her first restless night caused by an ‘impending something early the next morning' - like that uneasy sleep you have when you know you have to get up early but keep dreaming that you’ve missed your alarm… anyway I digress.

My daughter was an absolute super star (which was unexpected for her age and the time of day). She raced out of bed and got dressed at lightning speed (a first!) and I must say I was grateful for this small, but important win!

But of course, we were still running late and I had my own advice going round in my head “the sun doesn’t wait for tantrums and wrong turns” just as we took an obligatory wrong turn. I kid you not! Well my innocent daughter learnt a new word that escaped my mouth and my husband decided there and then we’d be implementing a swear jar when we got back home…

All in all we arrived five minutes late (my intention was to be 15 minutes early) and fairly stressed which was not at all what the photographer in me was wanting. But these things happen. Even with my daughter having surprisingly good behaviour, I didn’t factor in all the other things that could go wrong – I mean a melting hairdryer was the furthest thing from my mind!

But you know what, we rolled with the punches and made the most of the photography session when we got there. Of course, I must also say that our photographer was simply amazing - not only in the images she took but just in the way she calmed us down and made things fun and relaxed.

As the photography session wrapped up my daughter suddenly asked where the toilet was. At that point I realised that in our rush I had forgotten to take her to the toilet when she woke up. So she did the entire photo shoot on a full night’s bladder (cue facepalm emoji and ‘mother of the year award’ here). Needless to say there were no toilets nearby and she had to do a bush wee (another first).

How to plan for your family photography session

Looking back at what happened I can’t help but laugh. Everything turned out okay in the end but it definitely made me think of what I will be doing differently next time and so I thought I would share it here:

  • Plan your outfits well ahead of time and make sure they are ready (ironed) a couple days before. If you are on holiday somewhere, check that the iron (and any other equipment you may need) works as soon as you get there.

  • Have the route to your session mapped out and aim to be there 15 minutes early (lighting is important and no matter how good your photographer is, they can’t control the rising/setting sun). Therefore, if you arrive very late for a sunrise or sunset session this can seriously impact your images!

  • Have snacks and water ready and prepared the day before (please don’t start making snacks in your outfit, the last thing you need is for a wayward vegemite sandwich to stain your dress).

  • Talk the photo shoot up with your kids and have something fun planned for after the session to keep the enthusiasm up.

  • Don't try and do everything yourself. Talk to your partner and tell them what you need from them – such as getting the kids into the car and ensuring the snack bags are packed by no later than a certain time. Remember, communication is key!

  • Be flexible on the weekend/timing of your outdoor photography session – we are all at the mercy of the weather at the end of the day.

My most important piece of advice for getting ready for your Family Photo Shoot

Just do your best and trust your photographer to take care of the rest!

I’ve been on both sides – and as a photographer I keep things relaxed and fun because I know you’re coming from a situation of getting your family 'picture-worthy' ready which, no matter how much you plan for, either has it’s curve balls, wrong turns, tantrums or all of these and more!

So once you arrive at your outdoor family photography session, take a deep breath and have fun! Life is imperfect and there is beauty in chaos, believe me – I capture it for a living!

If you want to know more about what a Lifestyle Family Photography Session involves you can find out here.


p.s. our photographer was the lovely Taryn Van Rensburg. She’s based in Ballito South Africa and I can’t recommend her highly enough! I absolutely love the images and memories she captured for us! If you're local to/ever in the area, definitely look her up.



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