What to bring with you on an outdoor family photoshoot

I am spoiled as a Sheffield-based maternity and family photographer to have such a variety of gorgeous locations on my doorstep. I often recommend outdoor photoshoots to clients for several reasons, and it’s not just because of the beautiful backdrops they create.

Outdoor photoshoots can end up being a memorable family adventure filled with a lot of laughter and fun. They are a lovely way to celebrate some places that are important to you and your family outside of the home. And, sometimes, an outdoor shoot is simply more convenient than preparing for one in your home. (Needless to say, the guaranteed abundance of natural light — even on overcast days — is a photographer’s best friend!). 

Part of my job as a photographer is to make our time together as fun and stress-free as possible. Many people are nervous about having a photoshoot, and when it is you and your loved ones, especially if they are kids, there is more to organise. 

So this guide is here to help! The reality is you don’t actually need to bring anything along to our photoshoot except for your lovely selves. But I have jotted down some suggestions below that might be helpful for you or spark some ideas relevant to your family and our photoshoot.

For more general tips on how to prepare for a family photoshoot, check out my guide. If you have any more questions or want to book a session, please get in touch.

The Essentials

As I said, there is nothing you truly need to bring — so this suggestion isn’t technically essential, just highly recommended. 

Our photoshoot will last up to three hours, though 2 is usually plenty, so lots of time to explore a couple of locations, take breaks as needed, and, of course, capture lots of magical photos! And, although our time will fly (it always does!), unless you are specifically planning for part of our shoot to include stopping by a favourite cafe, snacks and a drink for everybody is highly recommended.

Snacks are especially helpful if you have kids. Being hangry as an adult is difficult enough, but a hangry kid is next level challenging. Even if your kids don’t get hungry during the shoot, it’s better to be prepared — it can end up feeling like a long day for little ones, so a break to chill and have a nibble can help them refuel. 

Although it can be tempting to bribe your kids to behave in a certain way during the photoshoot with the promise of a favourite treat, I don’t tend to recommend this. I’ll spend some time at the start of the shoot breaking the ice with your kids and getting them comfortable with me. It’s usually more enjoyable for everyone to take a break/s out of the eye of the camera to have something to eat and a drink.  

If you are bringing along a dog, remember to pack some water and treats for them!

The Multi-Purpose Prop

Blankets and scarves are some of the most useful things to bring along and include in your photoshoot. They are simple, lightweight, and serve so many purposes!

You can sit on them (and avoid any grass or mud stains that might otherwise mess up your outfit). You can play games where your kids run under them (not only do these make cute pictures, but some fun and play is a great way to get your kids to relax into the photoshoot). Or, you can use them to run into the wind (which can look especially lovely in fields or open areas).   

The blankets or scarves don’t need to be anything fancy, although by all means, feel free to along your favourites! If you don’t have any or are unsure if the ones you have are quite right, you are welcome to borrow some from the client wardrobe. (The scarf and blanket selection aren’t currently pictured, but let me know if you are keen to borrow one, and I’ll let you know what I have available).  

The Outfits

A change of outfits is one of the easiest ways to ensure you get a wide variety of photos. 

Even on outdoor photoshoots a change of clothes is possible and even recommended! If you have arranged to visit a couple of different locations, an outfit change can also help mark this transition. Changing outfits doesn’t need to be complicated or stressful. Choose an outfit with layers to help switch up your wardrobe — swap out a jacket, add a hat, take off a jumper, etc. 

On a practical note, a back up outfit for your kids can be a real photoshoot saver! Kids get messy, especially when there are puddles or squelchy mud to splash around in — something which I’m very much in favour of. However, if your kids get cold as a result or are upset that their outfit is now dirty, then a change of clothes will be much appreciated.   

For some general advice on outfits, this maternity shoot outfit guide can be adapted, but, in a nutshell, make sure all family members are comfortable in their photoshoot outfits! 

The Comfort Toy

If you have toddlers or shy kids, think about packing their favourite toy. A bit of play with a much-loved toy can help warm them up, get their attention, or make them feel more at ease before or during the photoshoot.

A picture of your little one with their favourite childhood toy can also make for a very sweet memento when they have grown up!

The Extras

This photoshoot is all about you and your family — so please, please feel free to bring along any extras or props you want!

Not only are bubbles and kites very aesthetically pleasing in photos, but they are a lot of fun for younger family members too. If there are other outdoor games you enjoy together as a family, then think about bringing along a football, frisbee, cricket set, or whatever else.

Capturing a family picnic also makes for a lovely photo moment as well as taking care of hunger and thirst — you might even want to hunt around for a photogenic second-hand picnic basket. 

Although many people gravitate towards outdoor shoots during the temperate spring and autumn seasons, I love them all year round — from my own snowy Sheffield woodlands photoshoot to mid-summer Sunflower fields — and the Peak District is a wonder at all times of the year.

If you want to arrange a family photoshoot (outdoor or indoor!) or have any questions, then reach out and get in touch!

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