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How to Prepare for Your Outdoor Portrait Session | Philadelphia Family Photographer

Are you always putting off your portrait session with a Philadelphia family photographer because you’re unsure of what to wear and how to prepare? Many people feel the same way, so I thought I’d spend some time sharing my best tips and tricks for the smoothest, most enjoyable session.

Pamper yourself and your family prior to your session

Take advantage of my Client Wardrobe

Talk about the session with your child(ren)

Encourage a nap/good nights sleep and snacks

Make sure to bring a few key items

Follow my lead - posing and prompts **the most important one, don't miss it!

Pamper yourself and your family prior to your session

You and your family should take the time to make yourself feel you best prior to your session. If you need to cut and/or color your hair I recommend doing so roughly 1 week prior to your session. A fresh haircut and color is nice but it’s even better if it has had some time to settle.

Make sure that everyone is without chipped nail polish, yes even your kiddos. It also helps to make sure they're without temporary stamps or tattoos. If anyone wants their nails painted that's fine but go with a muted color as to not distract from your photos.

Young boy wearing white and khakis kissing younger sister who is wearing a white and pink dress on cheek while parents stand behind them with lake in the background by Philadelphia Family Photographer

Take advantage of the Client Wardrobe

I hear it from many clients that they’re concerned about what to wear or don’t have time to go out shopping for clothes that they’re only going to wear once. It’s why I took the time to put together a collection of beautiful dresses that photograph well. I also have many options for boys and girls all the way up to the age of 6.

Prior to your session I will put together some options, photograph them and send them over to you via email or text. You’re also welcome to come to the studio if you have time in your schedule to see them in person and make a plan.

Utilizing my Client Wardrobe not only takes stress off of you, it also allows you to take the money you would have spent on an outfit you would likely only wear once and put it towards your artwork and/or digital files. Not only that, borrowing something from my Client Wardrobe ensures that you’re going to be in love with your images. I have a very specific light, organic style and I’ve curated the wardrobe with my photography style in mind.

If you choose to borrow something from my wardrobe you will look your best, feel your best, and love your photos in the end! And you can rest assured that I dry-clean everything after each use.

Young boy wearing khakis and white shirt holding onto his mom looking directly at the camera by Philadelphia family photographer

Make sure to bring a few key items

Please have nude undergarments so that you’re prepared no matter what dress you choose, if you have a regular and strapless bra, have both ready. I never want my clients options to be limited in terms of wardrobe because of undergarments.

For husbands/partners I recommend having a few options on hand so that we’re able to make sure everyone coordinates beautifully. I recommend khakis and any light colored shirt/sweater. The goal is to avoid jewel tones and jeans. If jeans are a must, please choose a lighter wash.

When having an outdoor sessions with a Philadelphia family photographer, especially in the summer months bug spray is required. Please remember to bring bug spray, if you happen to forget I try to make sure I bring some in my camera bag. If bugs are a deal breaker for you, I recommend a beautiful beach session at sunset or sunrise. You can view a full beach gallery here.

Talk about the session with your children

I know this one can often get forgotten but it’s so important to chat with your children about what’s going to happen during the session. I do my best to build trust with your children from the very moment they meet me, but the truth is that I’m still a stranger to them. Telling them who I am, (you can click here or here to learn a little bit about me) and what we’re all going to be doing before we even get to the session gives us the best chance of your children being cooperative. Click here to learn more about the experience so that you're able to share it with your children as well.

You can tell them that it’s going to be fun and that you’re all going to play while I take some pictures! As a Philadelphia family photographer, I know how it can sometimes be challenging to get children to cooperate. That's why I’ve incorporated many fun prompts to keep children engaged and happy. I have a few items in the studio that children can play with to keep them engaged that also photograph well. I have prompts like “run around mom and dad as fast as you can!”, “can you count mommy’s eyelashes?”, and many others.

Mom and dad standing close together, mom in a boho dress, dad in khakis and a chambray shirt with their son running circles around them by Philadelphia family photographer

Encourage a nap/good nights sleep and snacks

Never underestimate the power of a nap or good nights rest and many snacks prior to your session. It’s important to make sure you children are as well rested as possible and have full tummies. Please be mindful about the type of snack you’re giving so that cleanup is easy. A chocolate bar may not be the best choice because the cleanup can be tricky, but goldfish are the perfect choice because they clean up easily.

It’s also ok (and encouraged!) to bring a few snack options as a “bribe” but don’t tell them that you have it prior to the session. I normally like to hold off on these “surprise snacks” until they’re really needed. If you tell them you have more snacks prior to the session, it’s all we’ll hear about throughout the session.

Young girl standing in a beautifully lit green field looking directly at camera wearing a white and pink dress by NJ Family Photography

Follow my lead - posing and prompts

This is easily one of the most important sections of this post. I love capturing honest, candid, fun moments. Moments that happen in the quiet of the session, the moments that happen quickly and are easily forgotten but so important. I know it’s not always easy for people to be vulnerable in front of a camera but it’s honestly what can make or break a session.

I will rarely ask you to look at the camera and “say cheese”. It’s important to me to capture quiet, tender moments. Quiet moments leave space for something genuine to occur, wether that's a sweet hug between a dad and their child, a kiss to the cheek for mom from her baby(ies), or a surprise burst of laugher. Quiet moments aren't moments to be feared, they should be welcomed and encouraged. I will never leaving you wondering what to do but sometimes I like to sit back and see how you all interact without me prompting you the entire time. The only thing I ask my clients to give to me is their trust. I not only want to deliver beautiful images, I want you to walk away from the session feeling like that had an experience!

As for your child(ren) … Don’t worry so much if they’re not cooperating the way you had hoped. I have many fun ideas up my sleeve to get them engaged if needed. If you focus on your children (even if they’re not doing what you’d like them to do), I know you will be pleased with your final images. I will never force your children to do anything they don’t want to, and I hope you’ll do the same. I’ve found that trying to force a child to act or pose a certain way backfires and effects the remainder of the session.

Family with young children, parents are kneeling down, mom wearing a boho dress, dad wearing a chambray shirt everyone smiling at each other by Philadelphia family photographer

To see the entire gallery please click here

I've created a wonderful experience that not only takes some of the stress off of you but helps create stunning, light and airy, genuine images. I offer client wardrobe for mothers and children (up to the age of 6), and a hair and makeup artist to come to you or my studio to help you look your best the day of your session, If you'd like to learn more about what a portrait session with Ashli Nicole Photography entails please CLICK HERE. You can also follow along on INSTAGRAM for my most recent work, updates on availability, and more. I offer a complimentary consultation at the studio for you to see the studio in person, go through my client wardrobe, and look at the heirloom albums and fine art prints that I offer. Please feel free to email me at


Ashli Nicole Photography is a NJ newborn, maternity, and family photographer serving the New Jersey and NY area, including Essex, Morris, Somerset, Union, Bergen and surrounding counties including NYC

Philadelphia Family Photographer

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