Scheduling a family session sounds like one of those five minute tasks… but uhh. I’m a mom. And I know EXACTLY how imaginary “five minute tasks” are. Because it’s NOT five minutes. It means coordinating the soccer schedule and the ballet schedule, and making sure no one has a piano lesson on the night you’re planning on booking.
It means picking a Saturday where there isn’t a recital, or an afternoon without therapy appointments. And… forget about working around dinner, right?
As a mom of two boys, I get it. I know just how messy juggling all of those different things are – and so I’ve put together a quick little guide that goes over all of the things you should keep in mind when you’re finding a time that works for your family photo session!
When Picking a Time: Think About Kiddos
When you’re scheduling a family session, there’s a high likelihood that there are gonna be kiddos involved. Whether they’re your kids and you’re scheduling for your little clan, or whether you’re scheduling an extended family session and there are going to be other parents’ kiddos in attendance.
If they’re your kids, you’re going to know a lot about their schedule. When they get grumpy. The best time of day for them to be in a great mood. Possibly even how to work things around mealtime so that you don’t have to bring too many snacks. But if they’re NOT your kids, you might not have all of that information. So before you book a session that involves little ones, and you’re not their parents, it might be a good idea to have a conversation. Ask about whether there’s a time of day that’s going to be best for the little gremlins, or a time of day that’s going to cause PROBLEMS.
It’s also important to make sure that if the session is on a weekday, you’ve taken into account any school-aged kids’ schedules. I can tell you from experience that their parents will ENDLESSLY appreciate you caring enough to ask when would work best! Asking those kinds of questions isn’t just about making sure everyone can be at an extended family session, either. It’s also about the level of stress everyone is under when they’re in front of the camera. If your sister is worried about her daughter being on the verge of a meltdown because it’s almost nap time… she’s not going to be able to be fully present for the experience. And if you’ve gotten a session for your extended family… being fully present and enjoying the experience together is half the point!
Think about your schedule
The kiddos’ schedules aren’t the only ones to take into account when you’re booking a family session. It might feel obvious, but you’ve also got to think about your own! Interrupting the flow of YOUR day can be just as disruptive as interrupting the flow of a kid’s day. We ARE just tall toddlers, after all.
Booking your family session the same day as spin class, for example, might add a ton of stress to your world. So be conservative. When it comes to selecting a time, don’t think about “fitting it in”. Think about where it can fit naturally, if at all possible.
You also want to make sure that you don’t have something to rush to right after your session, if you can avoid it at all! Full family sessions with Jessica Strobel Photography usually run for an hour, more or less, but that’s not a strict timeline! We might end up taking a little longer, if we want to capture a few more poses, or groupings of people, if it’s an extended family session.
So the last thing we want is for you to be distracted throughout the session because you’re worried you’ll be late getting to the next thing! The same goes for your kiddo’s schedules too, by the way. If there’s something after the session time you’re going to have to rush off to… maybe try to pick a different day. We want to avoid anything that comes with distraction, and thinking about where you need to be next is DEFINITELY distracting!
Think About Lighting
If you’re having your session outdoors instead of in the studio, then you might want to think a little bit about lighting. This is something your photographer will absolutely help with, and talk you through. But if your session will be outdoors, then there’s the question of golden hour! Golden hour, for the uninitiated, is the stretch of time just after sunrise, and just before sunset. It’s when the light gets all “golden” because of the angle of the sun against the horizon.
There’s also “blue hour” which is slightly shorter and occurs just before the sun comes up and just after it sets, but that one is a bit less popular for session times.
The reasons to think about lighting are pretty specific though, because really it’s all about expectations. Photographers know how to work with the light at any point in the day, whether it’s cloudy or not, golden hour or not, midday or not. But the outcomes of sessions in those different kinds of lighting are going to be SUPER different, and it’s important to make sure you know what to expect!
If you’re looking for dreamy, vibrant, golden hour lighting… then the best bet is going to be scheduling your session for a slightly cloudy (but not TOO cloudy) day, in the hour before the sun sets.
However, the reason this option is lower on the list of things to think about… that time of day? It STILL might not be the best time for your family photo session. When you’re taking into account your own schedule, the schedules of other adults involved, plus the schedules of any kiddos who are in the session, evenings just might not be the vibe. And in that case, it’s important to make sure that you LOVE the photos in your chosen photographer’s portfolio whether they’re golden hour images or not!
I know that the dreamy, shimmery light from golden hour is super desirable, but it can’t always be achieved while keeping in mind everyone’s schedule. And that’s okay!!
Check Your Photographer’s Availability
Finally, you’ll want to make sure you take your photographer’s availability into account when you’re choosing what time of day to book your family photography session for. Some photographers only have weekends available, some only have weeknight-evenings available, and some have a combination of all of the above! But if you’ve chosen a favorite photographer that you DEFINITELY want to work with for your session, then you’ll need to make sure that the timing is right.
Most Photographers will work with you to find a time that meets your family’s needs!
Like me, most photographers will work with you to help ensure you can pick a time that works for you, AND for them. And most will bring up things like the moods of the kiddos involved and how we can make sure that they’re going to be at their BEST during your session!
If you’ve got any questions about what time of day to book family photography for, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d love to help you pick, and talk through how to get the best results for everyone at your session!