with Courtney Slazinik
5 Topics to Discuss Prior to a Family Photography Session
5 Topics to Discuss Prior to a Family Photography Session

When you first start discussing with a client about booking a family photography session, the client usually knows a lot about you and your photography style because of your wonderful photography website. Now it’s your turn to learn more about your client so you can successfully plan for their session. From what special occasion is prompting their session to what photography location would best suit the client’s personality, there are five main things you should discuss about with your client before the day of your session. The more you know, the smoother your session will flow and the better your collection of photographs will be!

  • No.
    Discuss the special occasion!


    I know this sounds obvious, but you should know what special occasion is prompting your client’s photo session. It could be as simple as updating the family portrait for their annual holiday card or to document a milestone moment like an engagement, a birthday, or a gorgeous baby bump! Most of the time, clients will tell you the occasion when they are inquiring about your availability, but if they don’t, just ask!

    Whatever the occasion may be, it is helpful to know up front so you can plan what photos you’ll want to capture during your family photography session. Once you know what type of session you are scheduling, you can talk more with the client about how you envision their portraits. For example, when clients inquire about a session for their child who is turning another year older, I tell them how I like to get a few individual portraits of the child and then I love capturing moments of the entire family together.

    Sometimes the client will want to incorporate something meaningful into their family photography session, like a new wagon or a special toy that their child adores. It’s best to make sure the photographer and the client are envisioning the same thing before their session to both ensure that the session runs smoothly and that you are the right photographer for them!  So, just chat!

  • No.
    Discuss the location!


    Is it really important that you talk about locations before you officially book your client. I like to send my clients links to specific sessions in my portfolio that are photographed at each location that I offer so they can get a feel for the style and setting and tell me which location they would be more comfortable in. Some clients love the idea of having an urban family photography session in the city, while other clients adore the idea of walking on gravel roads and posing in front of rustic barns.

    There is a location for everyone and it’s important that your location compliments the client’s style and personality so they photograph naturally in that environment! Showing session examples also helps the client get ideas for wardrobe, as they can see what color tones are in the cobblestone or what rustic textures are on a barn, and they can coordinate accordingly.

  • No.
    Discuss their wardrobe!


    Once you have agreed on a location, let your client know that you are more than happy to help answer any questions they may have about their wardrobe. It’s best to be honest with your client and tell them what colors photograph well in certain locations, and they truly appreciate it! For example, my urban location has a lot of brick so I always recommend that my clients stay away from oranges and reds since that color is already very dominant in that setting and they would blend into the setting, instead of be the center of attention.

    One of the easiest ways to help a client with wardrobe is to create a Pinterest board specifically for your photography clients. I like to create separate boards for my family session clients and my newborn session clients to help inspire their wardrobe. For my family session clients, I like to pin wardrobe examples that focus more on how to coordinate patterns and textiles, while avoiding being “matchy-matchy.” For my newborn session clients, I like to pin wardrobe examples that focus on soft neutrals because I personally feel that newborn sessions are that much more soft and precious when everyone is in soft and neutral tones. More specifically, because the new parents are going to be holding their newborn throughout the session, neutral tones will prevent any potential color casts on the baby’s skin.


    Clients appreciate it when their photographer takes the time to help them with wardrobe selection. It shows that the photographer cares enough about their collection of photographs to help with all the little details. It also will help the client feel confident on the day of their session to know that their wardrobe will be perfect for their location and will photograph well!

  • No.
    Discuss your contract!


    It is best to always give your clients your contract before the day of the session so there are no surprises. Give them your contract right away so they can get all of their necessary questions answered and resolved before their family photography session so that all you have to chat about on the day of their session is how fabulous and photogenic they are! Presenting your contract early also ensures that your clients will know what is expected of you and what your are expecting of them.

  • No.
    Discuss "must have" photographs!


    I make a habit of always, always, always, asking the client if they have any “must-have” photos. Right after booking, I invite my clients to share any photo ideas that they would like me to try and capture for them during their session. Some clients don’t have anything specific, and some clients have a couple things in mind that they really want to try. I have them tell me before their session day so that I can be sure to incorporate their ideas with my own ideas and photography style.

    Some clients are specific enough to say whether they would like a landscape or portrait sized photo for a specific photo project they would like to do after the session. Maybe they have a holiday card already designed or an idea for a photo wall already in mind. It is easier to know their wishes beforehand so you can simply turn your camera real quick, instead of having to create a crop after the session.

    If you have a Pinterest loving client, encourage them to look at your Pinterest board that you created with only your images on it. That way they can “pin” and talk about your images instead of showing you images from another photographer.


Some other photo ideas to discuss for family photography sessions would be what family member combinations would they like to have, if at all. For example: dad + mom only, mom + kids, dad + kids, kids only, etc. Some families really like a variety of combinations so they can frame photos for their spouse’s workplace or send certain photos to the grandparents. Other times, families just want to have an entire session of all the family together in all the photos. Knowing the clients wishes ahead of time will help to plan for a variety of poses and set aside enough time to capture anything specific.

For engagement session clients, it’s nice to chat about if they feel comfortable giving one another a kiss or two during their session for a photo. Also chatting about their save the dates is helpful, so you can help ensure that you capture that perfect photograph for their special announcement to family and friends.


By taking the time to get to know your client and asking the right questions, you are setting yourself and your client up for a successful and smooth session. You are ensuring that there are no surprises on the day of your session, and your clients can simply relax and be themselves in front of the camera. Doing a little chatting and prep work before your session will help create a relaxing session. Sometimes getting portraits taken can be stressful for clients, so providing them with a relaxing experience will be very memorable to them and their comfort will show in their portraits.

  • Ganesh
    July 22, 2015 at 2:48 PM

    You are so awesome!
    Thanks for a very helpful article :-)

    • Beth
      July 24, 2015 at 10:53 AM

      thanks so much! you are very welcome!

  • Nikki
    July 22, 2015 at 10:10 PM

    Your articles are always helpful and inspiring. Thanks Beth.

    • Beth
      July 24, 2015 at 10:54 AM

      yay! i am so happy to help and inspire! thank you so much, nikki!

  • Rachel
    July 23, 2015 at 9:25 PM

    Great advice! And super cute photos. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with us!

    • Beth
      July 24, 2015 at 10:55 AM

      you are very welcome! and thank you so much for your kind comment! glad you enjoyed it!

  • Melissa
    August 17, 2015 at 3:58 PM

    This is a great list! And a great idea to go ahead and take care of getting some of that information beforehand rather than at the session. Thanks :) I’m adding this to my list.

    • Beth
      August 18, 2015 at 7:37 AM

      thank you, melissa! i am so happy that you found this helpful!

  • Rachelle
    May 2, 2018 at 4:25 PM

    This article was so helpful. I have my first shoot coming up in a few days and hadn’t even thought that there might be combinations of dad, mom, and kids that they might want or that their wardrobe might not be appropriate for the location. Excellent article. Thank you so much!

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