Preparing for your family’s photoshoot can be a hectic time, particularly for moms who are responsible for wrangling kids, dressing spouses, and somehow getting everyone to the shoot on time. Thankfully, over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of families and I’ve learned a few tips and tricks along the way. Here is a simple guide for how to prepare for a family photoshoot walk you through the time leading up to the big day!

Potomac child and family photographer

Family Photoshoot Preparation Timeline

Two Months Before

  • Book your session
    My schedule fills up fast so if you’re interested in reserving a time, be sure to contact me well in advance!

Washington DC child and kid photography by Julie Kubal

One Month Before

  • Pick a location
    Where would you like the session to take place? In your family home? At a local park? Do you prefer natural or urban locations? Give me a call and we can discuss the possibilities for your shoot.
  • Be sun smart
    Avoid sun burns and uneven tan lines that can distract from your portraits.


One Week Before

  • Primp
    You’ll want the family looking it’s finest, so it’s not too early to start taking care of grooming (nails, eyebrows, teeth whitening, shaving etc. ). Facials and haircuts are best taken care of one week before.
  • Polish
    If we’ll be shooting at your family home, give the space a nice clean and polish. Remove any excessive clutter and begin scouting out where you’d like to shoot.
  • Map it out
    If we’ll be rendezvousing at my back yard, a local park, or an urban location, be sure you know how to arrive.
  • Finalize the family’s wardrobe
    It’s not necessary to bring multiple outfits, but you will certainly want to give some thought to a cohesive family look and color scheme.
  • Choose Props
    Props can be a great way to express personality and a shared interest. You may decide to bring along a book to read to the kids, a special blanket to sit on, a family pet, or a family heirloom.
  • Finalize any props that you’d like to use in your shoot.
  • *If shooting at home – Prepare the location.


24 Hours Before

  • Be wrinkle-free
    Wash and iron the family’s wardrobe the night before. Better yet, avoid clothing that wrinkles easily or requires constant straightening.
  • Pack a snack
    Chances are you won’t need it, but nothing can be more challenging than a child who is on a hunger strike during a photoshoot. Pack a granola bar, or some crackers that can tide them over if the need strikes.
  • Take Care
    Eat healthy, drink plenty of water and avoid salty foods and alcohol if possible.
  • Get Zzzzz’s
    Ensuring a good night’s rest will keep you all looking and feeling your best.
  • The emergency pack
    If you’re particularly nervous about the elements, it’s never a bad idea to have a few survival items on hand. Pack a small bag of the following: bobby pins, hair clips, chapstick, makeup.


The Day of

  • Make dad shave
    Dads should have a fresh shave or trim, use a new razor, and be sure to apply a moisturizing after-shave lotion. This will limit bumps and redness while still showing off his best features.
  • Eat!
    You may be tempted to skip a meal before your shoot, but that’s not a great idea! You and the kids will be more focused and have more energy if you have a little something in your stomach.
  • Get in naptime
    If your children are still of napping age, don’t be tempted to skip the nap! Qe will either schedule your session well before nap time or just after nap time.
  • Give a heads-up if something comes up
    In the event that something unexpected happens and you are going to arrive late, please give me a call so that we can make arrangements.
  • Relax and have fun!
    Now that all the planning and preparation is behind you, it’s time to breath a sigh of relief and let me lead you from here. It’s my job to make you and your family look their best so trust that you’re in good hands and that together we’ll create some beautiful portraits.

What are your favorite tips for how to prepare for a family photoshoot? Tell me in the comments below and share your knowledge with other moms in the same boat!


Julie Kubal family portraits Washington D.C.

About the Author:

Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!