How to Ruin Your Photo Session: 10 Tips for Family Photoshoot

Oahu Family Photographer, Hawaii on the beach by alison bell, photographer

You’ve already done SO MUCH. There’s nothing easy about family photos, and overlooking some key details, especially several at once, can ruin your photo session! These are my best Tips for Family Photoshoot.

You’ve come this far:

  • the photographer
  • the date
  • the weather
  • the wardrobe
  • your people are almost dressed and ready!

These are my best tips on what NOT to do before or during your photo session in a delightful snarky way!

Listen to the Tips for Family Photoshoot!

I chatted with Cayle Allredge on her Balanced Wellness podcast! Listen it to on your favorite podcast platform.

What to Wear Tips for Family Photoshoot

Most of these tips revolve around wardrobe. What you wear matters and I’m here to help!

What you wear matters

What to wear for hawaii famil photo outfits

I tried to avoid it for years. But the fact is it matters. 

It may not make or break the anything, but planning out the details of undergarments, colors and movement will go a long way to a great experience and even better photos!

Get every tip, trick, and clothing idea I have from 12 years experience all in one place.

BEACH GUIDE graphic by Alison Bell, Photographer

Disclaimer: Tips for Family Photoshoot

Doing one of these items is not going to ruin anything. You may get stressed, it may be an added hiccup, but it won’t be a deal breaker.

BUT. If you were to do them ALL at the same session… now we’re talking a massive mishap that might actually ruin your photo session and the photos.

1. Arrive late

  • Don’t look at the directions until it’s time to leave.
  • Don’t plan for traffic.
  • Don’t plan for the unexpected

I mean kids are completely predictable.

Do all of these and the sun will be half gone and you’ll miss half of your shoot time. But hey, fewer photos for the same price! 


  • Check your drive time DAYS ahead. A week if you can manage it! 
  • Expect traffic
  • Expect trouble parking
  • Expect a walk to find your tog

2. Wait until photo day to prepare clothes

Don’t wash

Don’t iron 

Especially, DO NOT find all  the clothes until the day of!

You’ll find everything exactly where you expected it to be and everyone’s clothes will fit perfectly. Kids don’t out grow clothes often enough for it to matter.


Find, wash, iron and hang it ALL in one place up DAYS before the session.

3. Don’t feed the kids before the session

Look, kids eat all the dang time. They can go another 3-5 hours.

Mom, you’ll be so preoccupied you will forget.


Fill them up before you get ready enough to last through the drive AND end of the session. That can be 3-5 hours!

4. Wear Crocs

They’re big, noticeable, and ugly. Best part, kids can put them on solo! 

Ugly shoes will still look ugly in the photographs.


Go barefoot! Y’all, shoes matter

5. Dress young kids too soon

Hello, 5 point harnesses! Put on their pants & undershirt before getting in the car. Top them off with the button up or dress on site. 

  • No wrinkles
  • No drool
  • No crumbs

6. Don’t dress for the weather

Kids will totally fake being warm in a maxi dress in November. NOT!

The beach is always windy. Your hair will stay out of your face and the kids won’t get chilly! Its the beeeeaach!


Schedule your session e-a-r-l-y if you don’t want to be wearing sweaters in the sand or chattering your teeth.

Bring hair ties to secure a quick half-back option in the wind. *But don’t wear them on your wrist!

7. Wear a dress that’s too short

Moms & daughters! You are going to run and sit down. You have to be covered AND comfortable to look good.


Dresses should hit at the knee or lower. Longer the better. Look for flowy material that gives gorgeous movement.

Avoid tight or restrictive cuts.

Get more details on what to wear for photoshoot here

8. Wear a shirt that’s low cut

Again for mom & daughters, if you can’t bend over to hug your crew without question, it’s too low. I’ve had great shots ruined by excess cleavage, and bra straps.  Get better options for what to wear here

9. Wear business casual

Creases in your pants just aren’t allowed at my sessions unless you’re in uniform. Park, beach, or formal garden – it doesn’t matter.

You simply look too stiff to be relaxed with your people. Save it for your branding session.

Same goes for dress shoes. They really do matter!

Bonus Tip for Family Photoshoot

Hire the wrong photographer

I’ve done it.

And you know I vetted their portfolio, blogs, and Instagram feed!

What went wrong? Her personality and ability to handle/direct the kids.

  • Were the images well lit, edited and framed? Yep.
  • Did we all look fabulous? Nope.

Know your crew, know the style you want, and ask the right questions.

My four boys are a lot to handle, and I did not ask about her experience with the number and ages of families like mine. She was not equipped to keep the attention of four boys at any age.

How to ruin your photo session -10 tips for family photoshoot. What not to do for your family photos
This is my own crew. Chest covered, no shoes, and all are comfortable.
How to ruin your family photo sessions. Alison Bell, Photographer

More Tips for Family Photoshoot

I'm a USMC spouse, South Carolina native, recovering homeschool mama of a 4 boy circus. They've taught me the most important facet of family photography: KEEP IT FUN!

Alison's Process

contact Alison


I find joy in chaos. The louder, the better!

I'm a USMC spouse, South Carolina native, recovering homeschool mama of a 4 boy circus.

They've taught me the most important facet of family photography: KEEP IT FUN!

hey, I'm Alison!


Traveling to 

You can Google until your eyes bleed OOOR I can tell you everything I know.