10 Steps to Prepare your Home for an In-Home Family Photo Shoot…

As a photographer, I absolutely love working in my client’s homes. There is no place that families feel more comfortable and fully relaxed. In-home photography tells a story about real life. It can be compelling to view these images, as this is a perfect location for lifestyle family photography, as these portraits have a certain authenticity and documentary feel.

For newborns and babies, another bonus to having your photo shoot take place right inside your home is that you have everything you need in case of accidents/ wardrobe changes or even lipstick touch ups. The options of shooting at home are endless, whether having the family cuddle up in the master bed, or photographing kids jumping on their beds and showing me their cool toys, or capturing the baby’s nursery that thought and design went into.

Having a photographer create portraits in your home can also be intimidating. You may feel the need to stage your home for your photos. As a photographer, it is my job to make your home look good. More importantly, it is my job to make your family look good, and the surrounding scenery to enhance your photos and not distract.

Here are some steps to prepare your home for a photo shoot:

  1. Find the rooms that are the most light filled

    When I enter a home for the first time, I first ask for a tour that will allow me to assess the light in each room. I bring additional light sources to use when necessary and fill in, but I love having natural window light as the main light source. Chances are, the rooms that are the most light-filled during the time that your photo shoot will be will be the ones that are used the most.

    Lifestyle photo of mother in nursery with her new baby
  2. Tidy up before your shoot, but DON’T SWEAT IT

    It seems pretty obvious… the less clutter, the less distractions in your photos. I say don’t sweat it because I typically end up moving things around anyway, clearing objects off of tables, moving coffee tables out of the way, taking pictures off of walls to keep the focus where it belongs– on the family and the connection.

    New parents already have a lot going on, so don’t let the idea of thoroughly cleaning your home before your photographer arrives add to your list of things to do. Believe me, I have seen homes in all different states of moving/ organization/ new baby arrival so I do not expect a sparkling clean home!
  3. Open the blinds/ shutters

    This is one thing that I always do when working in a room. All of the shutters are opened, blinds are lifted if possible, and curtains open. If you look at my portfolio, you will notice that I shoot with a lot of clean, bright light. I often position families in front of windows to get a “backlight” effect. The light behind the families is bright and white and again creates a simple image where the focus is on the gesture of the subjects.

    Newborn yawns
  4. Have light colored or white bedding on the master bed, or a larger guest bed in a light-filled room (for newborns, babies and small children)

    Dark colors compete with skin tones and clothing, so in order to keep the highlight of the image the people in it, I like to keep the surroundings as light as possible. Beds are a great place to get a family cozy and relaxed, so I love having the family snuggle up on a bed together.

    Family photography with pets
  5. Consider pulling out some timeless toys and special books to use in your photos

    A sweet photo is always dad reading the kids a special book that you may use in real life. When you look back at the photos, you’ll remember just about having that book memorized after reading it time and time again.

    If your kids are small, pull out some more timeless toys that can be incorporated into the photos. When we work in their room, they will often want to show me their toys, which can make really sweet photos. Ipads don’t look so great in photos, but soft stuffed animals, rocking horses, toy trucks and airplanes do! For ideas on incorporating classic toys into an adorable kids room, don’t be afraid to consult a professional interior designer through a design service like Havenly. Because it’s online, they can easily answer all of your last minute questions and help create the perfect photo-worthy child’s room.

  6. Take inventory of any special items or blankets that you would like to use

    If there is a special quilt that someone made or has been in the family for a while, or a chair that you used as a child, as the photographer to use it in your shoot. This adds to the sentimental value of your photos, and can make your great aunt really proud if her blanket makes the shot!

    Beautiful Baby Girl in Photo
  7. If you have a beautiful kitchen, as the photographer to use it!

    Kitchen remodels are something to show off. If you have a kitchen that you love, suggest using it in your photo shoot. I love putting a (sitting) baby in a sink-bath by a sunny window. Or having the family gather in the kitchen to make cookies.

    a sink bath with rubber ducks
  8. Plants and flowers

    Plants and flowers add a pop of color to your photos. Fresh flowers on the counter or by the bed look beautiful in photos and add some interest.
  9. If you have a baby, take the bumper off of the crib

    I typically always do a crib shot. For newborns as well as for older babies that can pull up to standing by holding onto the rails. For both of these shots, I prefer to take off the crib bumper.

    Newborn baby in his crib
  10. Clean up the doo doo around the yard 🙂

    Here in Charlotte, NC, we have a long season for outdoor photos, since it is warm out most of the year. Even in the dead of winter, we get nice days. I always like to bring families that I am photographing outside for some portraits. In order to avoid any accidents, it is a good idea to clean up any doggy landmines around the yard before your shoot! It may save a shoe, or a bare foot 🙂