Answers for All of Your Family Photography Questions

If you follow my Instagram feed, you know that my family and I just had a beautiful photo session with Renee Gooch of Gooch Too Photography at the jaw droopingly gorgeous Evanston Lighthouse Beach. And while the weather was sheer perfection, my boys’ behavior…wasn’t. Obviously I was stressed out about this fact and worried that our photos wouldn’t come out right since my seven year old was asserting his newfound sassy attitude. Thankfully, though, we chose the perfect photographer because Renee was able to coax my boys into taking some fun, high energy, simply beautiful photos that I will treasure for years to come. Even better? Renee offered to partner up with me to answer your pressing photographer questions that you might be too overwhelmed or intimidated to ask. So without any further adieu, here are answers for all of your “Family Photography” questions, courtesy of Renee Gooch of Gooch Too Photography.
How to decide on the photographer that’s right for you?
While I’ve never received this question per se, I often wonder how one does make this decision. Getting referrals is a great starting off point and with that info, do a little research into that photographer’s portfolio and approach to shooting. When I started photographing families 11 years ago, there were only a few photographers shooting Lifestyle Photography and now there are hundreds, many of whom are great photographers! That being said, we’re all very unique. So ultimately, if you can find someone who has the portfolio that fits what you’re looking for, approaches the photo session in a way that works with your family dynamic, and is within your budget, then you likely found a good match!
You’re a Lifestyle Photographer, what does that mean?
I capture people/families in a real-life candid and intimate way. Basically, I’m sort of the fly on the wall that gently guides the session and encourages naturalness…by adding thoughtful playful engagement to put everyone at ease.
We want to shoot outside by the flowers in our backyard! Is that doable?
This is a very common question I hear and ultimately this answer is about the technical aspects of taking the best photo. While I love flowers too (I mean, who doesn’t?!?) my mind goes to a few technical things – the time of day we’ll be shooting and the direction in which those flowers are facing. Those two factors are key, as far as whether the flowers make it in the shot or not. Ultimately this is decided when I arrive to your session. If the flowers get nixed, all is still okay, because nature with or without flowers provides a ton of natural colors our eye overlooks. When I find the right angle of light or the best catchlight, your photos will be gorgeous!
What’s the BEST outdoor location?
In my opinion, there are lots of “best” locations. Meaning there are different kinds of locations that fit different needs, which I zero in on with clients. In Chicago, we have a ton of variety to choose from – city urban, park setting, beach, skyline, studio, etc. When clients are open to anything and their child is old enough for anything (for example – urban sometimes isn’t ideal for a 2 year old), we talk it through and view featured sessions from different types of locations to determine the best location at your booked time.
What’s the best time of day for an outdoor photo session?
There are three answers to this: morning, early evening, and around naps. The latter is KEY. If your child is still on a nap schedule, then my schedule is around those naps. And that’s okay. I can make anytime of the day work. The only tricky time of day is middle of the day because the sun is directly over us. But if noon is the best time for you, I can make sure our outdoor location has some available shade as shade at noon is uber important.
What should we wear?
This might be the most popular question I get. It might also be the one I’ve become more relaxed about over the years. I’d love my answer to simply be – “be yourself.” But even I would have a hard time deciding on clothing if someone told me this. So instead, I recommend that you consider your style and use this as a guiding point. This answer is still a little general, but hopefully a good stepping stone. By staying true to yourself (family included), it will emphasize who you are as a family at that time in your life and allow everyone to feel comfortable. It’s okay to mix and match prints, patterns, solids, etc, all while being aware if some obvious clashing is happening. One quick trick I always mention to aesthically bring your family together is to add one complimentary element in your clothing choices that play well off each other.
When is the best time to take photos of our newborn?
The best age is usually within the first two weeks. During this time, they are still in a very sleepy “relaxed” state and overall it makes for an easy flow of photos. That said, sometimes booking your shoot within that time frame just isn’t doable, which is more than okay. At week three or even four, you can still get great newborn photos!
Our child is a little shy at first/ or our child is very independent – how will you get good photos?
Before a session with a new family, I always schedule a quick phone call to talk about all the details of the shoot, what to expect afterwards, clothing, location, names, etc. During this talk, I like to find out a little bit about who your little one(s) is and how they initially warm up to a newbie. Having this info is helpful, and bonus, I’m also very quick to figure this out upon first meet. If your child needs a little time to warm up, then we take a little time and I ease into their space with gentle engagement. Vice versa, if there’s a LOT of energy happening with your child, I’ll jump right in.
What’s your style of shooting?
Very relaxed, easy going and playful. With all age groups, I engage with your children by either singing, making silly sounds, or engaging in conversation that interests them. I believe if I’m open to any sort of interaction, your child will feel comfortable and the photo session flows naturally. Creating a great experience (and great photos too) is always my goal.
Should we bring props?
It’s not necessary unless you feel that it is. If there’s something you’d like to incorporate with the shoot, then we add it. During our pre-session talk, I’ll ask if there’s anything you’d like to include and talk it through when to introduce it and when not to (if applicable).
What’s the best amount of time for a photo session?
Off the bat, my honest answer is I don’t know. I default to what you think is best for your family. Sometimes 30 minutes of time is the perfect amount of time for a child and the longest they will last. And other times, an hour is necessary. If you have a larger family and you’d like to include a few looks, then an hour is usually recommended.
Right now Renee is offering some great packages for family photos for my readers. Use code YESAMANDA15 until Friday, August 11th to receive 15% off most Gooch Too Photography sessions (no expiration on purchased session). You can contact Renee to learn more about the types of sessions that are included and to book your session here.


  1. Renae says

    I absolutely LOVE your photos! They are so vivid and colorful. I learned a few great tips from this post, especially the one about being yourself. Personally, I don’t like wearing prints for photographs but many people do wear them well. I just don’t think they flatter me.

  2. Amber says

    Knowing what to wear is always my biggest hurdle and dressing the whole family. Like, do we match or not match or should the kids just wear what they want. Last time my daughter chose to wear cowboy boots and a tutu… lol, so I don’t know if I will let that fly again….

    • Amanda says

      Really? I think hiring a family photographer at least once a year is so worth it. Such a great way to capture your family as it grows–and finally I get to be in the pictures!

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