When summer rolls around we tend to have more family gatherings and it signals the ideal time to stage a family photo shoot. We talked to Dallas / Ft. Worth based photographer Elle Boone of Elle Boone Photography for tips on how to make the most of your photo session to perfectly capture the moment for posterity.

Choose your photographer with intention. On your quest to find a photographer, determine whether you want a lot of structure or something more lifestyle focused and candid. Then peruse your candidates website and social media feeds to find the one that matches your sensibility. If you really like their style and their portfolio reflects what you want your images to look like, then you’ve found your match. If not, Boone advises you move on. “You will never be happy with the result if  you’re just hiring someone to do what you want them to do,” Boone says. “Keep in mind that you are contracting them to practice their craft and what they’re good at.”

As with any relationship, communication is paramount. Once you choose your photographer, be sure to be very clear with them about exactly what images you desire — and how many people will be at the photo shoot. And if your shoot involves grandparents, share with your photographer if there are to be solo shots with just your family. “It’s also important to let your family know how the shoot will play out,” Boone says. This avoids awkward moments and hurt feelings if some members of the group are asked to sit out a portion of the session. You don’t want that drama to play our while the camera is clicking.

Manage your expectations about a photo with your pet. “Bringing an animal is like adding a two year old to your group,” Boone shares. “Getting a shot with everyone looking is going to be that much harder.” If it’s not worth it to you to have less pictures to choose from, then leave Fido at home. But if he’s truly a member of your family, then by all means include him in your shoot. But Boone suggests you have an option for securing your dog if he isn’t cooperating and you want to carry on with you session.  

Don’t underestimate the power of ice cream. Photographing kids can be tricky, especially young ones, but there are some tricks to success. “I found it’s best to make sure they’ve eaten before the shoot,  toys and props stay at home and to rely on old-fashioned bribery at the completion of the session,” Boone advises. If you’re dolling out treats during the shoot it can be distracting and take time away from your session. If you must have a toy, make sure it’s one you don’t mind ending up in the photo. And promises of a run to your favorite ice cream parlor to celebrate a successful session should keep smiles on everyone’s face.   

Opt  for neutrals with a pop of color. When choosing your wardrobe, you want your pictures to be timeless. In that vein, choose neutral, light colors. “I always prefer white, tan and lighter grays because light colors are complementary to skin tones,” Boone says. “You can mix up long and short dresses, shorts and jeans to help keep it from being matchy-matchy.” Do add in a little color, but Boone suggest you stick with three. Choose one neutraland two complementary colors. Light blue and coral are Boone’s favorites, paired with white or khaki. “Usually the husband ends up wearing blue, the mom white and kids wear a coral.” She finds that light reflects the best off of this comb.

Trust your photographer. In all things, listen to your photographer. They know the best locations (hint: botanical gardens are a no-go because they lend a green tint to the images), most flattering wardrobe choices and best timing for the lighting (morning or late evening are best). Communicate your desires and hopes, but ultimately let the professionals make the decisions.

Have fun! The most important advice Boone dispenses is for parents to be relaxed and find a photographer that’s laid-back. That’s going to set the tone for the day. “If adults are stressed, the kids are going to react negatively,” Boone says. When parents treat the photo session like a big adventure and have a fun date with their kids, then the realness of the moment will shine through in the final images. Above all, play, laugh and set your intention on making great memories with your family. Then you’ll look back on your photos and reflect on what a special time you had together.

TSG Tip 265  from Elle Boone of Elle Boone Photography in Ft. Worth, TX. Elle Boone Photography is featured in the The Scout Guide Ft. Worth. You can follow Elle on Instagram at  Elleboonephotogaphry.