Why It’s Not Just Snapping A Family Photo: Create authentic candid family photos by hiring a professional family photographer

Have you ever heard someone say “it’s just snapping a photo” or “we just need one or two good photos” and they want to DIY it, or just hire a photographer just to take the photo but don’t want the editing? This is much more common than you think!

However, there’s so much more that goes on behind the scenes of creating the perfect family photos for your Christmas/holiday cards, announcements, family newsletters, or just to hang on your gallery wall and post on your social media accounts for friends and family to enjoy.

There are three major points in your photography session that are crucial.

1. The prep work

2. The actual session

3. The behind the scenes editing and touching up

You can’t have one without the other, and still embody those beautiful candid family photos you’ve been planning months for.

Now, I’m dishing secrets about what goes into a session, the editing process, and what happens AFTER your session and why this is the game changer.

Father holding twin babies in NYC bedroom apartment with his toddler daughter sitting next to him.

Preparing for a Family Photo Session

A big chunk of the work is done before the session even starts. To achieve candidness and closeness in your photos, developing a relationship with your photographer is vital. It doesn’t require a lot of effort and it would be an unfortunate step to skip. Before we meet, it is important for me to get to know your family and learn what each person likes or dislikes, their interests and hobbies and if you have scheduled an at home session, I ask what is special about your home. Most of my introductions begin with either a phone call or an email and end with a questionnaire.

At the Photo Session

During the session, a lot is going on in my head such as lighting, composition, positioning and it flows naturally. But working with children and babies brings out lots of variables at a family photo session! Flexibility during the session is key to sort out any issue that may arise. Tired toddler? Cold weather? Hungry everybody? Photo sessions can be exhausting at any age (young or not young) so it is important to take it slow and leave some room for downtime so that most of the session can be fun and memorable. I love planning in time for snack breaks or sitting down and having a moment to rest so that at the end of the day, we will have F-U-N!

Post Session Editing and Work

After a photo session, another creative aspect comes into play. A key piece of the post session process lies in the editing and retouching. Every photographer is different in what they use to edit, but most use Photoshop or Lightroom. (I personally edit in both Lightroom and Photoshop.)

Some photographers will also use a separate program (like Photo Mechanic and AfterShoot) to cull the photos from sessions. Culling is going back through hundreds of photos from the entire session, to find the absolute best captures of you and your family.

However, just having an editing and culling program doesn’t mean all the work is done for a photographer automatically. To the contrary, photographers will spend YEARS learning their chosen program, the editing features, new techniques, and how to perfect their lighting (behind the camera, and behind the screen), as well as creating their signature brand look and feel.

It’s very important to pay attention to the overall mood/look of your photographer’s galleries and work. This is usually a great indicator of how your photos could look.

If you don’t like your photographer’s style, then they aren’t a good fit for you. Many photographers will fall under light/airy/warm or dark/moody. Some photographers have mastered a balance of both. But you should be able to see a general theme of how their sessions look before you book.

Some photographers prefer a more lifestyle, candid and natural look to their photos, while others prefer a more smooth, dreamy, and perfected editing style.  

Here are some before and after Images that show these transformations.

(Editing includes removing people in the background, adjusting exposure and white balance, color of grass, overall “feel” of the session.)

Some common things I usually edit are white balance, exposure and color. The changes can even be minor tweaks but they make such a big impact on how you view and perceive the photos.

I have 5 years of experience photographing families, newborns and children (and couples too!) and I am constantly updating my workflow and processes to achieve the style I have. My clients can expect intimate and joyful images that are true to color.

Thanks for reading! Also…Hello! Amy here! I’m a Westchester County and New York City Family Photographer. I specialize in all lifestyle photos for families (Newborn Photos, Family Sessions, and Maternity Keepsakes). Follow me on Instagram @amynghe for more tips on how to find the perfect photographer for your children and family.