8 Tips on Preparing for Amazing Family Photos in Toronto

July 14, 2022

It’s the day of your family photos and you’re in a state of panic trying to prepare and get everyone ready. Clothes are thrown all over the beds, you are shoving food in your toddler‘s mouth while trying to put on mascara, and simultaneously yelling at your husband to hurry up or you’ll be late. Sound familiar? I hope not! But if it does, let’s talk about some tips to make this never happen again. Like, ever. Family photos are supposed to be fun and I am here to help take the stress out of it.

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Don’t overwhelm your kids with info

You don’t want to over-prepare your kids for their family photos. There are a few different ways that you can accidentally do that, so let’s talk about it.

One way this can go wrong is for you to give them too much information about the photo session. Don’t go into detail about how they need to act or what’s going to happen during the session or anything like that. Don’t try and bribe them to “be good” because that is already setting the expectation that they aren’t going to like it. Instead, just tell them you’re going to go have a fun family day, play together, and explore while someone takes your photos. That’s all you need to say. 

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The other way that you can accidentally over-prepare them is by coaching them to smile at the camera. Please do not do this. The goal here is to get authentic smiles and also connections between family members. I don’t need them to look at the camera all the time. I will direct them to look at me if needed but most of the time kids will just laugh at the camera anyway (because I’m so hilarious, of course). And please do not ever utter the words, “say cheese!” unless it’s the end of the session and we have not gotten a smiling photo and it’s a last resort. But I’d much rather you have an authentic smile than a fake cheese one. 

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Don’t be too active on the day of your family photos

Don’t have a super active day on the day of your session. You don’t want your little ones to be all worn out by the time we start taking your photographs. With your session likely later in the day, this could make for some tired kids. And since my sessions involve exploring and lots of play, your kids will need their energy!

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Make sure all family members have eaten

Make sure to feed everyone before the session. And then brush their teeth and wipe their faces! A full belly will make a huge difference in your child’s mood (and partner’s) during their family photo session. I also recommend bringing some water and a couple of non-messy snacks if you think your kids will need them. Something they can eat quickly and not get stuck in their teeth or leave a stain if they fall on their clothing.

Don’t let the kids know that you have the snacks. Be sneaky about it and only bring them out if needed. When you do bring them out, don’t let them see you have an entire container. Just grab a couple from your bag at a time, otherwise they will be walking around with the bag and we don’t want that. We can definitely take a snack break if it seems like they are getting cranky but it’s best to save that for as late as possible so they aren’t begging for a snack every five seconds. Snacks are a last resort.

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Book with a photographer who has a client closet

Take advantage of your photographer’s wardrobe! When someone decides to use items from my own client closet, I will steam them and bring them to the session ready to go so you don’t have to worry about that part at all. 

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Make sure the kids are happy with their outfits

Try on all of the clothes ahead of time if possible. I’m going to tell you a story about preparing for my own family photos this year. I had bought my daughter probably five different outfits because she kept changing her mind about what she wanted to wear (she is a preteen…. it’s what they do). We had finally settled on a dress but I stupidly did not try it on her ahead of time. So here it is, 30 minutes before we need to leave the house, and she tries the dress on. She doesn’t like the way it fits and doesn’t feel comfortable with it. Luckily I had so many outfits to choose from so we found something that would work but it would have been a lot easier and smarter if I had tried it on her ahead of time and made sure she felt comfortable wearing it. So yes, I do recommend trying on the clothing ahead of time. 

If you’re borrowing from my client closet, you have the option of scheduling a try-on appointment with me. Until my studio is built, I’m currently meeting clients partway between our houses with a handful of their favourite dresses and my changing tent so you can change wherever we meet. But soon you’ll be able to come to the studio and try on anything you’d like!

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Be ready early

Give yourselves more time than you think you need when preparing for your family photos. Like 30-60 minutes more. If you’re ready ahead of time, you’ll be relaxed and not feel all stressed out and rushing to do everything last minute. Because I know from experience that if I’m rushing, I get snippy with my husband. And you want to be a happy family for your photo session, not a tense and upset one. 

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No sleeping in the car

Do not let your young children fall asleep on the car ride (unless it’s a pretty long drive and they have time for a full nap). This is a recipe for a cranky and upset child. Do whatever you have to do to keep them awake even if that means one of the adults sitting in the backseat with them. The only way that sleeping in the car is a good idea is if you have a long drive and you plan to arrive at least 20 minutes early to give your child time to wake up and get used to their new surroundings… which brings me to my next tip!

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Plan a special surprise for after your family photos

Your family photos should be a fun event that the kids look forward to! Especially if you choose the right photographer, they should be able to play and be super silly most of the session, anyway. But one thing you can do to make it even more fun is to plan something they enjoy afterward. You don’t need to use it as a bribe or a way to get them to behave, use it to extend the fun! Let them know that you’re going to go have fun family playtime while your friend Miss Silvia (that’s me) takes some photos, and then you’re all going to go to ice cream to celebrate! Or whatever else you want to do after (play a family game of Mario Party, get dessert, make a craft together, etc). This is setting the kids up for a positive view of their photo day and something they will look forward to every time.

I hope you have enjoyed these tips on preparing for your family photos and that it helps make your day go smoothly! If you still need to book your fun family session, you can contact me here and we will start planning an awesome adventure!

Here are more blog posts in different locations in Toronto both outdoors and in-studio showing why you should hire a photographer to capture your beautiful family.

Family photo shoot at Scarborough Bluffs

Family and maternity photos at Scottsdale Farm

Family and cake smash photo shoot at Mint Room Studios

Family and cake smash photo shoot in The Solarium Studio

Family photos at The Evergreen Brickworks


There are a few ways you can book. You can book right online using this tab which leads you to my online booking calendar. However, not all available dates are on that calendar so if you need a different date, send me an email! You can reach me at hello@anchorstudio.ca

Anchor Studio Photography specializes providing a full service experience that starts with booking your session and ends with getting beautiful tangible heirloom products being displayed in your home. My style of soft, candid and timeless photos can be seen in all my maternitynewbornchild and family portraits in Greater Toronto Area, including Oakville, Mississauga, North York and Richmond Hill. If you are interested in booking a portrait session for your family, you can click here to book your session. I am now booking sessions for summer 2022, so don’t hesitate to get in touch soon!

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