I am so pleased with the way our pictures turned out, and I am so grateful to our wonderful photographer -- Hilary Hendsbee. (You can check out her facebook page here.)
I am not a photography expert, but here are a few things I found helpful during the handful of family photo shoots we have done over the past few years.
1) Timing is everything - Make sure you pick a time of day that works with your kids' schedules. Well rested children will be way more cooperative. Also, make sure you give yourself lots of time for the shoot. Arrive early so there is no need to rush around and stress out.
2) Dress for success - Make sure everyone (especially the kids) are comfortable, and choose clothes that are not trendy or distracting. Clothes don't have to match, but they should coordinate for a cohesive feel. A change of clothes and a sweater (in case it gets cold) are also useful.
3) Choose the right photographer - Get recommendations from friends, and find someone with experience working with kids. You are going to want to find someone that specializes in the style of photos you are looking for.
4) Be clear about what you want - Decide whether or not you want candid shots or formal portraits, and figure out who you want in the pictures. e.g. I really wanted a picture of just my three boys, so I made sure to let the photographer know ahead of time.
5) Let the photographer take the lead - Although it may be tempting to take control, let the photographer call the shots -- he/she is a professional. Give your opinion, but take advantage of his/her expertise when it comes to locations and poses.
6) Pick the right location - Pick a location with lots of interest for the children and one that will give you the "look" you are going for. We picked the beach, and the boys had a lot of fun.
7) Bring a bag of goodies - Any activity with children requires some solid "prep" work. Bring snacks, blankets, stuffies, bubbles -- anything that will make the kids happy and put them at ease.
8) Relax and have fun - It will make the experience (and your pictures) better! :-)
Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)