4 Tips for a Successful Family Photo Session

Autumn’s crispness and change of pace is something I’ve always felt gratitude for – there’s just something about the changing leaves and deeper appreciation of family that feels like a sigh of relief. With ample autumn activities and the holiday season ahead, taking a moment to document this chapter in the journey is something that I find always to be a tangible celebration of all that’s brought us to this point; and as a business owner, I adore seeing each family year after year, hearing about their newest milestones, and seeing how quickly the little ones have grown. It’s an annual tradition of mine to host a series of photo sessions (called a mini-session) before the holiday rush. For those who may not be familiar with mini-sessions and how to make the most of them, this is for you, with practical tips, advice, and hopefully some encouragement.

If you missed our post about what to wear, take a look at it here.

Mother and daughter newborn family photos Atlanta photographer Hannah Forsberg

First, what is a mini-session?

A mini session is a petite, slimmed-down, 20-30 minute version of a typical hour-long session. I have found that over the years, this is the perfect length of time for families wanting updated yearly photos with rambunctious little ones. It’s the bare basics of an hour-long session marrying the classic and traditional portraits with just enough room for a burst of spontaneity. 

Following their lead

Now, when approaching these sessions, I always encourage the family to follow the smallest family member’s lead. Let this be the opportunity to sprinkle their world with an abundance of “yes”. If that little one wants to go on a walk and explore, my instinct is to follow suit and take a more documentary approach at that moment. By “letting the littles be littles,” it helps create an atmosphere that feels relaxed and minimizes overstimulation. 

When the opportunity arises, we’ll move into a more classically-inspired group pose of everyone standing (or sitting) together. 

In all of these moments, I find that these activities often result in some of the sweetest photographs:

  1. Talking with one another.
  2. Taking a nature walk/pointing at things to look at.
  3. Sitting and singing to the little one.
  4. If there are animals, watch them together.

I’ve also found that bringing some of the following for little ones ages 3 and under are helpful:

  1. Their favorite toys (one they like to hold, and/or one that makes a noise).
  2. A few different types of food/snacks that you can give multiples of (ie: Cheerios/puffs/chocolate chips).
  3. If you have a loved one/friend/favorite uncle who would like to tag along and make them laugh, that can also be a huge help!
  4. A blanket to sit on.

Of course, writing this is easier said than done at times. 

So, what to do when the littlest one isn’t having the happiest moment? 

I encourage you to embrace it – to not be embarrassed – to be gentle with yourself – to remember how totally normal this is.

I encourage you to do what you always do; hold them close and comfort them the way that only you can. 

It’s their arms wrapped tight around the one in whom they feel most safe (you!), it’s the way that they can’t help but stumble around with their newfound balance (and speed!) because they’re so excited to be there with the people they love the most;  it’s these moments that will be the ones you’ll hold most dear – because that’s motherhood. 

Be proud of the nuances that make you and your family yours.

Be proud of the good days, the wonderful days, the days where smiling doesn’t come easy…it’s all part of the journey.

And from an outsider’s perspective, it’s truly a beauty to behold and a privilege to capture.


Would you like to see some more of our family photography work? Take a peek at family photography portfolio by visiting our sister brand, Phoebe Randall Photography: https://phoeberandallphoto.com/families.


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I'm Hannah and I'm so happy you're here. This blog a journal about our most recent imagery and heartfelt stories. Stay a while and say hello!



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