7 Tips for Preparing for Your Professional Photo Shoot | Chicago North Shore Moms

Photographer Nicola Levine shows the kids some of the pictures that she just snapped.


By: Nicola Levine, Nicola Levine Photography


It’s almost impossible to capture those precious photos of all the members in your family in a single pic. Someone’s eyes are closed, the baby is wriggling, the toddler has just broken away and is now gaining speed…. Sound familiar? Sounds like it’s time invest in a professional photo shoot of your family. Why? Professional photographers have a few tips and tricks up their sleeves to focus all of the members of your family, even the ones who can’t put down the phone. Once you’ve decided that the time is right, you’ll likely have a ton of questions about how to make the most out of the BIG DAY. Here are 7 tips to preparing for your professional photo shoot to help prepare your family:






Photos shoots are special occasions for sure, and photographers understand you’d love to get as many members of the outer circle as possible. A few things to consider with regards to numbers:

  • Numbers: More the merrier isn’t necessarily true for photo shoots. The more members of the family the longer the photo shoots become.
  • Strike the pose(s): Decide who will pose with who and stick to the plan. Decide beforehand how many different combinations of people together there will be and be sure to communicate that with everyone beforehand.
  • The wee ones: The little ones will likely (but not always) meltdown the first! If you’d like your small children to pose individually with different members of the family it might be best to get those done first.





This photo was captured in the fall.


Photographers host outdoor sessions all year-round with late spring, summer and early fall being most popular. They all bode incredible photos! The season will set the tone for your photos with regards to clothing colors (see tip #5 below) and clothing weight. I’ve even held sessions in the snow!






Chicago is host to so many amazing backdrops. Photographes will travel to just about anywhere you’d like to go within a certain radius of travel. One thing to consider is how crowded a public space might be (especially these days with so few indoor options). A few amazing locations:

  • Chicago’s Millennium Park
  • Chicago Botanic Garden (extra fees applied by CBG), Glencoe
  • Florsheim Nature Preserve, Lincolnshire
  • Gilson Park and Gilson Beach, Wilmette
  • Your backyard/garden
  • Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve, Lake Forest






Days of the week: Quarantine or not, families are busy! What day of the week works best for your schedule? Do you have to move mountains to make it happen?


Time of day: Now that you have a location your photographer can help you choose the best time of day for your shoot. Quality of light is the biggest factor here. I like to schedule sessions within 1-2 hrs of sunrise or sunset. The light at this time of day is the most flattering for portrait photography. It helps to have less people around too!






Once you have your outfits chosen, everything else will seem like a piece of cake! A few tips:

  • Color palette: You can Google or Pinterest color palettes surrounding the main color that you’d like to wear.
  • To match or not to match: Up to you! But my advice is to be consistent.
  • Not matching? Establish a statement piece: In the photo above the main statement pieces is mom’s dress.
  • Outfit choices: Take your statement piece and layout a few outfit options for the other members of the family. Take colors from the statement piece and weave it into the other articles of clothing. In the example above the dad’s shirt has taken the orange hue from the dress, the girl’s dress has taken blue out of mom’s dress and the boy remains super neutral with a white and blue top.
  • Comfort: If members of the family are super uncomfortable, that may make for some crankiness.






Makeup is a big question, and typically the most common question I get. Not everyone wears it day-to-day, right? I always recommend makeup for women and teen girls. Not only will makeup help to even out your skin tone and reduce blemishes, it will help make you feel more comfortable and confident in front of the camera. Here are my tips from a professional photographer’s point of view:

  • Use a foundation and concealer that matches your skin tone. If you have never had makeup done, visit a makeup counter at a department store or cosmetic store (Sephora) to help identify the correct tone.
  • Use matte, not gloss or glitter (those do not translate well on camera)
  • Apply your makeup in natural light, the same light that will be used for outdoor photos.
  • Go heavier than usual.
  • No spray tan.
  • No waxing 2 days prior to sesion.
  • Ease up on the eyeliner with the bottom lid to avoid the eyes looking smaller.
  • Do not try new products within 3 days of session, just in case you have a reaction to said product.






A good photographer understands that not everyone will be so thrilled with the experience of a photo shoot. I’m a mom, so I know a thing or two about that! Having said that, there are a few things you can try to help reduce the crabbiness.

  • Timing: You know the witching hours of your crew. It seems obvious but try not to schedule sessions during nap times, meal times and even just before bed even if the sun is still out.
  • Clear the schedule: We moms are famous for overscheduling. If you can, try to clear the schedule the hours leading up to the photo shoot and enjoy your chill time.
  • “Sleep begets sleep:” Always easier said than done but try to get the wee ones to bed at the regular hour the night prior.
  • Food: Full bellies bring belly laughs!
  • Snacks: save non-messy treats for in between photo poses or just after the shoot altogether.



I hope this helps you prepare for your professional photo session. Photographers understand that this is a special day that can often feel stressful. I can help your family relax and have fun with it, a treasure that will read in your professional photos with all of the members of your family present!


Nicola Levine Photography is now booking sessions for late summer and fall 2020! Visit my site, www.nicolalevine.com for more information and click on Book a Session to get started! I host sessions for families, children, high school seniors and professional headshots. I look forward to working with you and you!


And to learn more about me, visit my Meet a Mom feature, on Chicago North Shore Moms!

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