A Step-by Step Guide to Planning your Family Photo Shoot [LA Edition]

By Ramina Magid – Newborn Photography Studio in Los Angeles, CA

family photo shoot

A Step-by Step Guide to Planning your Family Photo Shoot [LA Edition]

Welcome to Los Angeles, where the art of capturing family moments through the lens of a professional photographer takes on a life of its own! Whether you’re basking in the golden hues of a beach sunset or embracing the eclectic urban vibe of the city, each family photo shoot in LA is both unique and cinematic.

One of the most common questions I hear is, “What should we wear for our family photo shoot?” Choosing your outfits can sometimes feel overwhelming, but it’s also an opportunity to express your family’s style. No matter if you’re drawn to bold colors or prefer a palette of different shades and complementary colors, the outfits you’ve chosen will play a crucial role in bringing your family’s story to life. Remember, clothes that you feel comfortable and confident in will always photograph best.

As we dive into this comprehensive guide, filled with insider tips and professional advice on everything from navigating LA’s iconic locations to ensuring your little one’s comfort in their nappy during a newborn shoot, I can’t wait to share these insights with you. 

Whether you’ve booked your session or are just starting to explore your options, I’m here to help you every step of the way. So, if you have any questions, or if there’s a specific look you’re choosing for your family, don’t hesitate to send me a message or give me a call. Let’s create some beautiful images together that perfectly capture the essence of your family.

Choosing the Perfect Photographer for Your Family Photo Session

Researching Family Photographers in Los Angeles

The first step is choosing the best family photographer whose style resonates with your vision. Start by browsing online portfolios and reading reviews. A good family photographer will have a gallery showcasing a variety of family photo shoots. Pay attention to the emotions and moments captured – these photographs should speak to you. Whether it’s candid shots of laughter during a fun family outing or the tender moments of newborn photography, each image tells a story.

Remember, it’s not just about the photograph, but also how the photographer interacts with families. Look on Yelp for testimonials that mention how the photographer handles younger children or manages the dynamics of a family session. This is especially important if you’re including a newborn in your shoot. Their comfort and safety are paramount, and an experienced family photographer will know how to make the entire family feel at ease.

For those who want to learn, I offer private mentoring for photographers at my studio in Los Angeles where we cover everything from styling, posing, set design, marketing and safety. Also, you can see my Newborn Photography Masterclass Notes here.  

Scheduling Your Photo Session

Once you’ve shortlisted your photographers, it’s time to get in touch and schedule your photo session. Timing can be everything in photography. For outdoor family photos, the golden hour (just after sunrise or before sunset) offers beautiful, soft light. However, with the unpredictable schedules of little ones, especially newborns, flexibility is key.

For newborn photography, it’s usually best to schedule the session within the first two weeks after birth. This is when they are sleepiest and more pliable for those adorable, curled-up poses. Your photographer should be willing to work around the baby’s needs, ensuring the session is relaxed and comfortable for everyone.

If you’re opting for a studio session, availability might vary. Studios in LA can be booked weeks in advance, so it’s best to plan ahead. This is particularly true during peak seasons like holidays when family shoots are in high demand.

Picking the Ideal Location for Your Family Photography

Iconic Outdoor Family Photo Spots in LA

Los Angeles is a beautiful city that offers stunning locations for family photography, each with a unique backdrop that can add a special touch to your family portraits. When choosing an outdoor location, consider the lighting and the crowds, as these can greatly influence the mood and quality of your photos.

One of my favorite spots is the Santa Monica Pier. With its vibrant carousel, expansive beach, and the iconic Ferris wheel, it provides a playful and colorful setting for a fun family photo session. Located at 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401, it’s best visited during weekdays or early mornings on weekends to avoid the crowds.

Another gem is Griffith Park, offering a more natural and serene setting. Nestled at 4730 Crystal Springs Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027, this vast park features lush greenery and stunning views of the city, perfect for a family photo session that captures the essence of LA’s natural beauty. The soft, natural light near sunset here can create magical family photos, especially when capturing tender moments with your little ones.

Remember, when planning an outdoor family photo shoot, it’s best to avoid bright midday sun, which can cause harsh shadows. Early morning or late afternoon are ideal times, offering softer light that flatters and brings out the best in your family.

Best Times of Year for Outdoor Shoots in LA

Los Angeles is known for its nearly year-round sunshine so this offers a variety of optimal seasons for outdoor family photo shoots. The key is finding the right balance of natural lighting, comfortable temperatures, and scenic beauty. From my experience, late spring (April to June) and early fall (September to November) are ideal times for a family photoshoot. During these months, the weather is pleasantly warm but not too hot, which is especially important when photographing families with young children or newborns.

The natural lighting during these seasons is soft and golden, perfect for creating beautiful images. Additionally, the blooming flowers in spring and the warm autumn leaves provide stunning, natural backdrops that can really make your family pictures stand out. When planning your shoot, always recommend checking the weather forecast and be prepared for outfit changes if necessary – a light cardigan or jacket can be handy.

See more tips in my Family Photos 101 article to help you prepare for your session.

Newborn Safety During Outdoor Shoots

There are so many reasons why you should consider a newborn photo shoot but please keep in mind that when photographing newborns outdoors, safety is paramount. 

Always ensure the baby is comfortable and protected from the elements. Choose a warm, sunny day but avoid direct sunlight, which can be harsh on a newborn’s sensitive skin. Opt for shaded areas or use a diffuser to soften the sunlight.

Keep the outdoor session brief to prevent the baby from getting too cold or overheated. Bring along extra blankets for warmth and a sun hat for protection. When posing the newborn, safety should always come first. Use a spotter or parent to stay close to the baby during the shoot, especially for poses that involve props or elevated surfaces. 

Never compromise on the baby’s safety for the sake of a photo.

Top LA Studio for Family Photography

While outdoor locations have their charm, there’s something special about a studio shoot, especially when it comes to newborn, cake smash and baby photography. I’m proud to offer a cozy, comfortable studio located in the heart of Beverly Hills, designed specifically with families in mind.

My studio is fully equipped with a variety of props and backdrops, allowing us to create a personalized setting that reflects your family’s style. From whimsical setups for a fun family session to serene, neutral-toned backdrops for newborn photography, we have it all for the perfect creative newborn photoshoot! I am also fully licensed, insured, and extensively trained in newborn safety, ensuring that your littlest family members are in safe hands.

My studio address is: 1010 S Robertson Blvd Suite E, Los Angeles, CA 90035, United States

One of the significant benefits of studio photography, particularly for newborns and younger children, is the controlled environment. We can manage the temperature, lighting, and setting to ensure your baby’s comfort throughout the session. This control also allows for a variety of creative options that might be difficult to achieve outdoors.

Whether you’re envisioning a classic family portrait session or something more thematic, like a fancy dress shoot, the studio provides a blank canvas to bring those ideas to life. And for families with newborns, the studio’s calm and controlled setting makes it easier to capture those peaceful, sleepy poses that are so cherished in newborn photography.

Preparing Your Family for the Photo Shoot

Choosing Clothes That Work Best for Family Photos

Selecting the right outfits for your family photo shoot is crucial in creating beautiful, timeless photographs. The key is to choose a color scheme and textures that complement each member of the family while aligning with the overall aesthetic of the shoot.

A popular approach is to opt for neutral colors. They’re classic, work well in almost any setting, and help keep the focus on your family’s faces and expressions. Think soft whites, beiges, and light grays. These colors not only photograph beautifully but also add a touch of elegance to your family portraits. For texture, mixing knits with cotton or linen can add depth and interest without being too distracting.

If you’re in Los Angeles, stores like Zara and H&M offer a great selection of clothes in neutral tones and a variety of textures. They have options for both adults and children, making it a bit easier to coordinate outfits for the whole family. For something more unique, local boutiques in areas like Beverly Hills or Santa Monica might have just the perfect piece for your family photo session.

See my article on picking clothes for newborn sessions here.

family photo shoot
family photo shoot

Coordinating Outfits for a Harmonious Look

Once you’ve chosen a color palette, the next step is to coordinate outfits that fit well and complement each other. Start by selecting an outfit for one family member and then build the rest of the family’s outfits around it. This could be a patterned dress for your daughter or a textured shirt for your son, and then choosing what to wear for the adults based on these.

When coordinating outfits, it’s best to avoid overly busy patterns as they can be distracting in photos. Instead, opt for plain colors or subtle patterns. If someone is wearing a pattern, balance it out with solid colors for the other family members. This helps create a cohesive look without making anyone blend into the background.

For families with newborns, choosing soft, comfortable clothes is key. A cute romper or dungaree for the baby, paired with neutral-colored dresses or trousers and shirts for the parents, can create a sweet and cohesive look. Remember, the newborn is often the star of the show, so choose clothes that flatter but don’t overpower the little one’s outfit.

In terms of where to shop, apart from the already mentioned Zara and H&M, you might also want to check out local children’s boutiques for unique and adorable options. For adults, stores like Nordstrom or Macy’s offer a wide range of choices that can suit various styles and preferences.

Managing Meltdowns and Unpredictable Moments

Young children’s mood swings or uncooperative moments are a part of family photography. The key is to stay calm and flexible. If a child is having a meltdown, take a break. Sometimes a few minutes of rest, a snack, or a little playtime is all they need to reset. Be prepared with a few child-friendly distractions like toys or bubbles that can be used to redirect their attention and bring out natural smiles. Remember, the best shots often come from unscripted moments, so rather than forcing a pose, let the children lead and capture their genuine expressions and actions. Flexibility and a sense of humor go a long way in turning these unpredictable moments into memorable photographs.

Hair and Makeup: Looking Your Best for the Camera

Top Salon in Los Angeles for Photo-Ready Hairstyles

When it comes to family photo shoots, having hair that looks great on camera can make a big difference in the final photographs. Los Angeles is home to some fantastic salons that specialize in photo-ready hairstyles, even for the little ones.

For kids, you want a hair salon that understands how to work with younger clients, ensuring they look cute but also feel comfortable. One such place is Cookie Cutters Haircuts for Kids located at 266 S Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. They specialize in fun, manageable hairstyles for children that translate beautifully on camera.

Professional Makeup Tips for a Natural Family Photo Look

Makeup for a family photo shoot should enhance your natural beauty without being too overpowering. The goal is to look like yourself, just polished. For the best results, stick to a more natural makeup style that highlights your features subtly.

A few tips for makeup that photographs well:
– Use a matte foundation to avoid any unwanted shine.
– Neutral eye shadows, a bit of eyeliner, and mascara can accentuate your eyes beautifully.
– A touch of blush can bring a healthy, natural-looking flush to your cheeks.
– For lips, choose a shade that is a bit brighter than your natural lip color. This will give definition to your lips but still look natural.

If you’re not confident in doing your own makeup, consider booking a session at a local makeup studio but remember, the idea is to enhance your natural beauty, not mask it. Whether you’re opting for a professional to do your makeup or doing it yourself, the key is to look and feel comfortable and confident in front of the camera.

Capturing the Essence of Your Family

Fun Family Ideas to Bring Personality into Your Photos

Your family photo shoot is a unique opportunity to capture the essence of your family’s personality and bond. To make your photos truly special, consider incorporating activities or themes that reflect your family’s character. This not only adds a personal touch but also encourages natural interactions for candid shots that are full of life and emotion.

For instance, if your family loves the outdoors, consider a photo session at a local park where you can capture moments of your family playing together, maybe throwing a frisbee or having a picnic. These activities naturally bring out smiles and laughter, providing authentic and joyful family photos.

Another idea is to incorporate a hobby that your family enjoys. If you all love to cook or bake, how about a fun family photo shoot in the kitchen, complete with chef hats and aprons? You can capture the messy, joyful process of making a family recipe together.

For families with young children or newborns, simple activities like reading a favorite book together, playing with bubbles, or gentle play on a blanket can lead to beautiful, natural shots. These interactions not only keep the little ones engaged but also create tender, memorable moments.

Including Newborns in Your Family Session

Including a newborn in your family photo session adds a layer of tenderness and wonder to your family portraits. As someone who loves capturing these early moments, I have a few tips to ensure your newborn is comfortable and engaged during the session.

Firstly, it’s essential to keep the environment warm and cozy. If you’re in a studio, this is usually taken care of. For outdoor sessions, consider bringing a soft, warm blanket or scheduling the shoot for a warmer part of the day.

Simple poses work best for newborns. A classic shot is the baby cradled in the parents’ arms or lying peacefully on a soft blanket. For a family session with a newborn, try capturing moments of each family member interacting with the baby – a gentle kiss on the forehead, tiny hands holding a finger, or a soft gaze. These interactions make for incredibly heartwarming and genuine photographs.

In terms of outfits, soft, neutral-colored onesies or swaddles work well. They’re comfortable for the baby and photograph beautifully, complementing rather than competing with the baby’s delicate features.

Remember, patience is key when photographing newborns. They might need feeding or changing breaks, and that’s perfectly fine. It’s all about creating a relaxed environment where the whole family, especially the newborn, feels at ease.

For extra tips, see my beginner’s guide to newborn photoshoot (for photographers)

The Day of the Photo Shoot: Ensuring a Smooth Experience

Last-Minute Checklist Before Leaving Home

The day of your family photo shoot is finally here! It’s a day filled with excitement and, perhaps, a little bit of nervousness. To ensure everything goes smoothly, here’s a last-minute checklist to consider before you head out the door.

Essential Items to Bring:

Outfits: Double-check that you have all the clothes you’ve chosen for the shoot. It’s also a good idea to bring a backup outfit for each person, just in case of spills or unexpected mishaps, especially with younger children.

Props: If you’ve decided to include any props in your photos – like a favorite toy for the little ones, a family heirloom, or a special book – don’t forget to pack them.

Snacks and Drinks: Choose snacks that aren’t too messy and are easy to eat quickly. Also water is essential to keep everyone hydrated and happy.

Basic Grooming Supplies: A small hairbrush, a few hair clips or bands, and some basic makeup for touch-ups can be handy during the photo session.

Preparing for the Shoot:

Feed the Kids: Make sure your kids have eaten a good meal before the shoot. 

Nap Time: If you have very young children or newborns, try to schedule the shoot around their nap times. Well-rested children are more cooperative and cheerful.

Explain the Process: If you have older children, explain what will happen during the photo shoot. Knowing what to expect can help ease any anxiety they might have.

Managing Expectations:

Relax: Remember, the goal of the photo session is to capture your family as you are. It’s okay if not every pose is perfect or if the kids aren’t smiling in every shot. Sometimes, the most cherished photos are the candid ones that show your family’s true personality.

Be Patient: If you have younger children, be prepared for a few breaks. The key is to keep the atmosphere light and fun.

Ramina Magid Newborn Photography

At Ramina Magid Photography studio in Los Angeles we are currently open for booking family, baby, cake smash and newborn photo shoot sessions. You can see photoshoot pricing under each portfolio page and our photography reviews here. Our studio is located at 1010 S Robertson Blvd Suite E, Los Angeles, CA 90035, United States.

Are you ready to turn the short moments of your newborn’s early days into everlasting memories? Feel free to contact me, I’m here to help you do just that! 

Conclusion

As we wrap up this journey through the essentials of planning a family photography shoot in Los Angeles, I hope you feel inspired and well-prepared for your upcoming photo session. From the golden beaches to the urban heart of the city, LA provides a stunning canvas for your family memories. Remember, the key to a successful photo shoot is not just in the details like choosing outfits or the perfect location, but also in the joy and love that you share as a family.

As a professional photographer, I’ve had the privilege of capturing these timeless moments and have seen firsthand how the right preparation can lead to genuinely breathtaking family portraits. Whether it’s making sure you look your best in complementary colors, avoiding tops with repeating patterns, or picking the right outfit for a fun beach shoot, every choice contributes to the final, beautiful result.

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ramina magid newborn photography los angeles

Studio Address

1010 S Robertson Blvd Suite E, Los Angeles, CA 90035, United States

HOURS

Monday – Friday
9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday – Closed

Ramina Magid Photography is a family, maternity, and newborn photography studio located in Los Angeles, CA, minutes away from Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and West LA. Ramina is a Los Angeles newborn photographer, baby photographer, and family photographer. Serving Los Angeles and surrounding cities including Burbank, Brentwood, Pasadena, La Canada, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Pacific Palisades, Santa Clarita, Van Nuys, West Hollywood, San Marino, Calabasas, San Bernardino, Malibu, Altadena, Covina, Alhambra, Granada Hills, Marina Del Rey, Manhattan Beach, Rancho Palos Verdes, and all other communities in Southern California.