Tips for family travel photoshoot

Since we started our family travel adventures, we have engaged photographers in three different destinations for a family photoshoot. 

Bali


Bandung


and most recently, Amsterdam


In Bali and Bandung, we engaged freelance photographers directly for the sessions. It’s definitely cheaper than flying in a photographer from Singapore, and it helps that these local photographers are familiar with the places and can recommend good spaces and places for our shoots.

In Amsterdam, we booked the services of a Flytographer and the company coordinated our request with our chosen photographer. You can read on our experience with Flytographer in this post
If you are planning to engage a photographer for a family travel outdoor shoot, here are some useful tips for you.

1. Venue

Decide on the backdrop that you want for your photos. Depending on the age of your kids, you might want to factor in your kids’ level of comfort before deciding on the venue. Ari was only 9 months old when we had our Bali photoshoot in Jan 2013. We didn’t want to travel far, yet I wanted photos by the paddy field. We decided to book an accommodation by the paddy field. We stayed at Villa Agung Khalia in Ubud

2. Don’t discount indoor venues 

Turns out we also took photos in our resort, which was great because the accommodation we stayed in had a rustic Bali charm feel to it. With kids, even indoor photos can turn out very pretty. We had some bedroom shots of us playing with Ari and of me nursing him (with nursing cover). We had similar hotel shots in Bandung and another of me nursing Dani while we were having lunch. The nursing ones are highly sentimental to me as breastfeeding was a huge part of my motherhood journey. 

3. Timing is important

Be prepared to go slow. With a kid (or many kids), I’ve learnt the hard way that things don’t usually go as planned, and even if they do, in less timely manner. We usually opt for at least an hour package as there’s buffer to call for a time out in case the kids get cranky. (Hence the nursing shots!) You might want to also take note of your kids’ least fussy timings. We usually take photos in the morning because that’s when they are the most active. We will avoid midday as they get tired by then and need their naps. Evenings don’t work for us too, just because there are occasions when they skip their nap and this is when they become overly cranky. Cranky kids don’t make great photo subjects! In Amsterdam, we made a mistake of not having breakfast before our photoshoot. Turned out Ari was very hungry and midway through, he refused to pose and smile for photos. Lucky we had biscuits in our bags and a number of our photos featured the Khong Guan biscuit packs. 

4. Plan a Shoot Scoop

Flytographer requests for a shoot scoop from their clients, in which they ask questions like your shoot goals i.e. vision that you have of your shoot and inspiration i.e. styles or moods of your desired photos. Some people prefer posed shots, for me I tend to prefer the spontaneous, playful shots. I find these the shoot scoop very useful as it helps the photographer understand your wishes and align both your expectations. I usually also think about the type of photos that I want for each shoot, example in Amsterdam, I knew I wanted a shot of just the boys, I wanted a shot of us sitting down on the steps of the houses along the canals, I wanted a Cycling shot and I wanted some shots of us wearing our Tulas. This leads me to my next point, props!

5. Props make the shots !

I really believe so, and my husband will agree that I tend to overdo this each time. We planned our itinerary in Amsterdam such that we can also use our  rental bicycles for our photo shoots. I will also select a set of clothes specially for our photoshoot. When picking clothes, the easiest is to go by colour, that usually works. You can also go by the type of clothes, eg we wore denim in Amsterdam. I’ve seen photos of families wearing white tops and jeans, and I thought that works very well too! 

I didn’t do this for my family travel shoots, but for some other family shoots that we did in Singapore, props turned out very useful and make your photos highly personalised!


6. Have fun!

I think this is most important for your session and your photos to turn out well. Have fun, enjoy yourself during your shoot. Don’t be overly stressed about getting the right pose, the right expressions, the right timing. Trust that your photographer would have captured the best photos of you and your family (and there’s the magic of photo editing for other visible flaws!). If kids aren’t being cooperative, leave them aside for abit (with toys/food) and snap some lovey dovey couple shots with your spouse. Play with your kids to get them to be happy and to smile with you. Be casual, be yourselves. Do the stuff that your kids enjoy the most! That always work for us!

7. Have little expectations (and be pleasantly surprised!)

But at the end of the day, if you are thinking of taking a family travel photo, you need to lower your expectations !  Because with kids, you know how all your plans get thwarted when they decide to go against everything that you have planned for them. Expect good photos, awesome photos will then be a bonus. 

Special credits to our photographers (Putu in Bali, Pratama in Bandung, Silvia in Amsterdam, Fadly and Hyn in Singapore) for capturing such lovely shots of us. 

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