5 Must-Have Photos For Your Family Session | San Diego Family Photographer

As a San Diego family photographer, I simplify my sessions by having 5 must-have photos that I take at every single session. This keeps me on track during my family sessions and ensures I get what is most important to my clients to have captured. When I was first starting out I tried mixing up each session and the order in which I captured images. This caused me to forget to capture things at times, such as mom and dad alone or siblings together. While sometimes I do need to adjust my “order of shots,” I’ve found that it’s better to stick to a similar workflow as much as possible.

Below are 5 must-have photos I capture at each session, in similar order.

Image of siblings at photo session at Coronado Beach

Must-Have Photo #1: The “Money” Shot

This shot I always try to grab right at the beginning of the session. This is the image that most families frame for Grandma or have on their Christmas card. It’s the shot where everyone is smiling and looking at the camera. It’s also a great starting point because it easily leads into asking families to interact with one another. Capturing families snuggling or smiling at one another is signature to my lifestyle photography style.

Image of family of 4 depicting must-have family photos
Image of mom and daughter taking photos at Coronado Beach

Must-Have Photo #2: The Family Sandwich

This must-have photo might be my favorite! This is a shot I can capture no matter how young or old children are. First, I place kiddos in the middle of parents. I can do this with parents holding their children, kneeling down next to them, or standing altogether. After I capture the “money shot”, I then ask siblings to hug each other, hug mom and dad, or ask parents to kiss or tickle their kiddos. WIth young children I like to be silly and tell them they are peanut butter and jelly or ham and cheese. This is always guaranteed to get smiles and laughter!

Image depicting must-have family photos

Sibling Shot

Having photos of siblings together is so important to parents, and there are many ways to capture this shot. Older siblings can be captured standing up while younger siblings can sit on a blanket. For babies and toddlers who may not want to be put down, I capture them together in mom and dad’s arms or standing in front of mom and dad holding their hands. My main goal is to keep my sessions light, fun, and interactive, so for this must-have photo, I make sure siblings feel comfortable and at ease. I follow their lead and pose them as they feel comfortable.

Must-Have Photo #4: Red Light, Green Light

This next must-have photo is one I capture when I sense little ones are getting wiggly and need to M-O-V-E! I turn this photo into a game that I play with toddlers, elementary-aged kids, and even teenagers! Having families walk together is a great way to get them to loosen up, interact with one another, and capture genuine smiles and laughter. No matter the ages, I line family members up and have them hold hands. I then tell them to “walk like a turtle” when I say green light, so they don’t go too fast.

As they are walking I give them prompts such as “look at the family member who wakes up the earliest”, or “smile at your favorite sibling” (this one usually gets some laughter!). When I say red light, I ask them to smile and look directly at me. This is another way to grab that “money shot.” I also like to play this game and have kids run towards me. This works really great if you have shy kiddos who don’t want to take solo headshots. I can quickly snap a smiling, laughing photo of each child as they run.

Image depicting must have family photo of family walking on the beach

Photo #5: Parents Alone

Moms and dads, when is the last time you have had your photos taken together outside of your wedding day?? For many of my new clients, this must-have photo is one they haven’t taken since the day they said “I do.” At least not professionally anyway. I love pulling mom and dad aside, asking them to take a moment to look at one another, snuggle into each other, and share a kiss.

Image of parents together during a photo session in Coronado

Family sessions are so. much. fun! I love getting to know families throughout our hour together. I love interacting with kiddos and pulling out their personality through play and silly prompts. Most importantly, I love when families leave our time together and say “taking photos was fun!” Mission accomplished in my opinion. 🙂

XO, Desiree

Desiree Jacobs Photography is based in San Diego, CA