How to Ruin Your Photo Session

There’s nothing easy about family photos, and overlooking some key details, especially several at once, can ruin your photo session! You’ve come this far:

  • the photographer
  • the date
  • the weather
  • the wardrobe

One of these mishaps on their own won’t be a deal breaker, but do them all and you might be SOL!

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.

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. 

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!


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 - 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
HEY! I'm Alison, Your Fun And Hilarious Family & Newborn Photographer!

I'm a South Carolina native, USMC spouse, and recovering homeschool mama of a four boy circus. Bring me your crazy!

After 11 years of photographing families all over the world, I've realized my clients aren't printing their images. We go through all this work to get dressed, coordinated and then let those photos die on the hard drive.

No more!

There's nothing easy about family photos but I'm here to help you with every step from what to wear to printed in your hands whether thats an album or wall art. I want you to Make your people the rock star of your house!

You'll be reminded of what really matters every day when you see the giant prints of your crew laughing on your walls every. single. day.

Currently stationed in Virginia Beach, Virginia photographing families all over the Hampton Roads area from Suffolk, Norfolk, Chesapeake and the Eastern Shore all the way to Portsmouth and Elizabeth City!

Follow along on the Gram at @alisonbellphotog or reach out today!

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!

about Alison

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