Tips & Tricks for a Fun and Successful Family Photography Session!

It is October in New England and that means peak foliage, peak weather, and peak photography season!  As a Boston family photographer, the next few weeks are extremely intense but it is also such a joy to see so many long-time clients, meet new ones, and make memories in the beautiful light and trees.  Every time I get a little overwhelmed, which admittedly can happen this time of year, I remind myself how objectively fun it is to do this job.  A lot of my time this month will be spent on mini-sessions which means we have a smaller window of time together - this list of tip and tricks will hopefully make our session go more smoothly, result in more keeper photos you’ll love, and encourage everyone in the family to have fun.  My goal for our session is to hold space for a less stressful and more fun experience for everyone which always results in more natural and authentic images.  I hope this helps, thanks for being here!

A family hugs and smiles in Newton during their fall mini-session.
A little girl jumps in front of foliage while her family looks on in Newton during their fall mini-session

++1. A successful session starts before you arrive.++  

- Make sure your outfits are comfortable and easy to move in.  Want more info on styling and what to wear?  Check this out!

- Give the kids (and adults!) a light snack beforehand.  

- Have water and another snack with you but avoid anything that is messy or will stain.  No colored fruit juices, cheetos, etc.  Water and fruit snacks or granola bars without chocolate are great choices.

- Start talking to your kids about the session before the day arrives.  This is especially helpful with younger kids.  “This weekend we’re going to see our friend Korri and take lots of photos! It’s going to be fun and we’re going to play, thanks so much for coming and doing this with us, we take the photos because we love you and love our family”

- Plan for something fun to have after/in the context of the session.  Go to dinner, stop at your favorite playground, have a movie night, etc.  Anything that will help boost the positive vibes and memories in the minds of your family :) Make it special!

- If anyone in your family has sensory issues or general preferences around being touched/taking direction/showing public affection please let me know ahead of time so I can be mindful and respectful of boundaries.

A father throws his son in the air during their Arnold Arboretum fall mini-session
Three photos of a family posing during their Arnold Arboretum fall mini-session

++2. Things to keep in mind during the session.++

- Especially during mini-sessions we will quickly get to work on getting the safe and smiling shot first, but once you’ve all looked at the camera and smiled, it’s the moments after where the magic truly happens.  

- In other words, let it all fall apart. Tickle each other, kiss your partner, let the kids run away, and just have fun with it.  I will repeat this over and over: the difference between a stressful shoot and a fun shoot is our mindset, not what the kids do. 

- I give lots of direction, so I will prompt you to do various things but in the moments that I’m not giving explicit direction you can help by continuing to interact with your family.  Almost constant movement, both small and big, is key.  Some examples of what I mean:

  • Reach for your partners hand or rest your head on their shoulder.
  • Gently move a stray lock of hair out of someone’s eyes.
  • Kiss everyone! Kiss heads, cheeks, and hands.
  • Hug everyone! When in doubt, pull in the person next to you for a hug. Look at them, look at me, hug softly, hug with a big ol’ squeeze.  The number one thing I want in our photos is connection and hugs are the perfect visual representation.

- Trust that I will give you prompts that are flattering and I will offer suggestions on how to look great during the photos, otherwise, don’t worry about how you look or what you’re doing - giggle, laugh and move freely and focus on how the session feels.

- Look around and enjoy yourself!  When you are present in the moment the photos will show this.  The photo session isn’t about creating a perfect holiday card (though that is a part of it!), I want it to be a time when you can hug and kiss your family and feel grateful for the life you’ve created.  Enjoy the experience.

- If you are in the background of photo continue to interact with your family members, look around, and move.  

- If a child isn’t feeling an accessory like a bow or sweater I encourage you to let it go.  A happy bow-less child looks far better in a photo than a sad child with a bow ;)

- Similarly, if a lovey/toy/blanket is calming for a child to hold, let them.  In some case I may be able to edit it out, but more importantly I bet than in 5 years when you look back and see that toy that they’ve now outgrown you’ll be so thankful it’s in the photo.

- If a prompt or direction I give doesn’t resonate with you, no problem! Let me know and we’ll move on to something else. This is a collaboration, and luckily my 14 years of experience means I have lots of different ideas and poses we can try.

- Finally, just breathe.  and smile.  It’s all going to be ok - heck it’s going to be GREAT.

A family hugs and smiles during their fall mini-session in Boston by West Roxbury family photographer Korri Leigh Photography
A family hugs and smiles with their dog during their fall mini-session in Boston by West Roxbury family photographer Korri Leigh Photography

Did you miss my mini-sessions and are hoping to have photos done with your family this season?  I have 7 weekday outdoor family session slots left and you can book yours directly here:  live booking calendar.   This calendar reflects my only availability for outdoor sessions until the end of the year so don’t sleep on grabbing one of the very limited slots.

Otherwise, I can’t wait to see all my wonderful mini families starting this weekend.  Keep your fingers crossed for no rain!

A reminder to follow me on Instagram for business updates (and many dog photos and other silliness) and shoot me an email with any questions!

Much love,


/Korri Leigh is a West Roxbury based Boston family photographer who specializes
in artistic documentary photography, connection portraiture, and contemporary studio photography in Boston, Norwood, Dedham, Brookline, and throughout New England./ 

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