Bay Area Family Photography-3 Tips for a Great Session

Family Photography

3 Tips for Preparing for a Successful Bay Area Family Photography Session

I know it is that time of year again! Even with a lot fewer events due to COVID, between distance learning and time with the family during the holidays, scheduling a successful family session can be a bit daunting! First, you might not have a bay area family photographer, and since JC Penny’s (which I would never recommend) is most definitely out of the question this year, where do you start? The best place to start is by asking friends and family for a referral and then checking the photographer out to see if you like their style and to see if they are in your budget. Of course, if you don’t have any recommendations Yelp is the next best place to start!

After all the work to find a photographer is done, next is figuring out when, where and of course the outfits. Luckily my clients get location recommendations based on their own desires and taste, plus a portrait style guide! Most photographers worth the salt will have something similar, and if they don’t they may be new so don’t expect the highest quality images.

The day of the much-anticipated session has arrived….how do you give yourself the best chance for amazing images and a great session, especially when dealing with children 8 and under?

Tip 1:) Make sure your children are in clothes that are comfortable.

Bay Area Family Photography is a bit different, in that we often have heat waves late into October. You want those sweet holiday photos that showcase your fall wardrobe, but when it is 90 degrees outside this may be a bit uncomfortable. The simple truth is, that when your kids are comfortable they are much happier and in a far better mood! Any parent of a toddler knows that making them do anything is nearly impossible, lol!

The trick to getting around this is to wear light layers and do an early morning shoot when it is still cool outside and the sun is lower. I offer digital backdrop enhancements to had a more traditional fall foliage look as well. Bay Area family photography can be a tricky thing when we really only have 2-3 sessions, but after over 200 sessions, I have found inventive and magical workarounds:)

Tip 2:) Have your child’s favorite song ready on your phone and/or favorite toy with you.

Up to about age 5 or 6 having a favorite song playing can really help elevate your child’s mood and help bring out those natural photos that we all love so much! I recommend having at least 2 favorite songs on your phone and one toy that makes noise if your child is younger. Of course, you can resort to bribes, but I only suggest this as a last resort. It is best to just try and make the experience as fun as possible.

I personally like to start of the session with candids that include mom and date playing with the little ones:)

Tip 3:) Don’t tell your child to say cheese!

This is a big one! As soon as parents start telling the children to “smile big” “say cheese” “show your teeth”, that’s when all those fake smiles come out. Why you might ask? Well, it is the same smile we show them from the time they are born, so they learn it very quickly. The best way to get those genuine smiles is to let the photographer connect with your child, and follow the photographer’s directions. I will often have mom, dad or a sibling stand right behind me and make weird funny faces. I myself play peek-a-boo, so weird things like “boogers are grouse”, or “is there a squirrel on my head?” Basically whatever it takes to get that smile, no matter how embarrassing lol.

Honestly I could go on and on, but these 3 tips will give you, your absolute best chance of getting your money’s worth out of your family session. There are a ton of Bay Area Family Photographers out there, so it is important that you find one whose style you love and who you connect with!

If you feel like we might make a good fit, I would love to connect!

Check out our Family Sessions Page and fill out the Contact or heck just text or call me:) Have a safe and healthy fall!



I am so happy that you're here! My name is Crystal Summer Bear, I am an avid traveler, solopreneur and boutique portrait and wedding photographer. 
I love to share tips, tricks and beautiful stories that connect us all. 
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