Choose Outfits Intentionally

Selecting outfits that not only complement each other but also reflect your family's personality is key. Opt for colors and styles that make everyone feel comfortable and confident. To add a feminine and dramatic flare (I feel like it really enhances the romantic + poetic atmosphere) you could have mom + the girls wear lovely flowy dresses.

Most husbands aren't thrilled about dressing up for photos (my husband certainly isn't!) - Your husband will be thrilled to hear that I prefer for dads to wear clothes they are comfortable in, so something like a Henley t-shirt with a pair of chino shorts or jeans can be a great option for the aesthetic and cohesiveness of the photos as well as dad's comfort (you're welcome, dads!)

Avoid matching, neon colors, or distracting graphics.

Choosing colors that complement one another is much more visually appealing and cohesive than matching or incoordinate combinations.

Make sure to check that everyone's outfit fits (don't forget the shoes too!) - No one likes showing up to have pictures taken with shoes that are too small, particularly not small children.

While we could always roll with it and have everyone take off their shoes and go barefoot, (which is totally a fun vibe if you want to, I am all in!) if that wasn't your original plan for the session it is better to check ahead of time so that no little toes are pinched while trying to run and play games.

family sitting on a path during fall family photoshoot with minnesota photographer

Keep Hunger at Bay

A hungry family is not a happy one! Before the session, make sure everyone has had a good meal or snack. Consider packing some snacks to keep energy levels up throughout the shoot. (But please do not use it as a bribe!)

Non-Staining Snacks:

  1. Fresh Fruit: Sliced apples or grapes
  2. Vegetable Sticks: Carrot sticks, cucumber slices, bell pepper strips, and snap peas
  3. Cheese: Cheese cubes or string cheese
  4. Crackers: Plain crackers or rice cakes are convenient and won't leave behind any colorful residue.
  5. Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds
  6. Popcorn: Plain, unsalted popcorn

Snacks to Avoid:

  1. Foods with Vibrant Colors: Avoid snacks like berries, fruit snacks, or candies that have vibrant colors that could potentially stain clothing or mouths.
  2. Sticky or Chewy Treats: Stay away from sticky candies, caramel, or chewy snacks like fruit leathers, as they can leave residue on hands and faces.
  3. Chocolate: While delicious, chocolate can melt easily, leaving behind messy hands and faces.
  4. Sauces and Dips: Steer clear of snacks that require dipping in sauces or spreads, as they can lead to accidental spills or stains.
  5. Foods with Strong Odors: Foods like garlic or onions may leave lingering odors on breath and clothing, which could be distracting during your family's session.

Avoid Bribing

As a photographer, I understand the desire to make sure your family photoshoot goes smoothly, especially with squirrely little children. Resorting to bribery might seem like a quick solution, but it can actually be detrimental to the overall experience.

Instead of allowing kids to express themselves freely and being able to capture their personality naturally, bribes often illicit unnatural expressions that are staged and insincere (kids don't "fake" very well!)

Constantly interrupting the session to offer bribes can disrupt the flow and rhythm of the shoot and leads to missed opportunities. By focusing solely on obtaining rewards, children may miss out on genuine interactions and spontaneous moments that make your session meaningful.

Instead of bribing, make sure to talk about how much fun you'll have, tell your kids a bit about the location you'll go to, and tell them your photographer's name. Don't let your children know if you feel nervous about how they'll behave! Let them get excited about the experience, the games they'll play, and the new place that they get to explore during the session.

family playing a game during golden hour family portraits near St. Cloud minnesota

Make It the Main Event

Treat the photoshoot as the highlight of the day. Clear your schedule and avoid cramming in too many activities beforehand to prevent exhaustion for yourselves as the parents and for children alike.

Prioritize Rest

Ensure everyone gets enough rest leading up to the session. If your child's bedtime is close to the session time (especially for those later golden-hour/sunset sessions in summer,) consider adjusting their nap schedule to avoid crankiness.

Try to keep kiddos from falling asleep in the car on the way to the session - I know how crabby my toddler is if I interrupt him in the middle of a nap!

mom and dad laying on blanket playing with baby during family pictures with minnesota photographer

Redirection Over Correction

Keeping children safe is a priority and sometimes they have to be told "no" by you during the session. BUT, try to focus on positive reinforcement and redirection rather than constant correction during the session. Let the kids be goofy! Enter into their fun and be silly with them. (At the very least, try to pretend that everything they are doing is adorable!)

Creating a relaxed atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable will result in genuine smiles and natural interactions. And remember, yelling rarely leads to those intimate and connected moments we're aiming for!

By incorporating these tips into your family photoshoot, you'll set the stage for a memorable and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

See you at the session!

portrait of a child laughing at the camera during lifestyle family pictures with photographer St. Cloud minnesota
St. Cloud, MN based
family + newborn photographer

Hi, my name is


St. Cloud MN family and newborn photographer

I'm on a mission to create and capture poetic + love-filled moments for ordinary families.

As a photographer and busy mom to two under two, I am accustomed to the joyful chaos of young families and like to bring a relaxed approach to your photo session that encourages children to have fun and show their true personalities instead of forcing them to smile unnaturally on command.

Time to finally be in photos yourself, mama!

Motherhood is hard, in the midst of spilled Cheerios, dirty diapers, and crying babies, it can be difficult to slow down and see the sweet moments in the midst of the crazy.

I create a space for you to intentionally step away from the endless piles of laundry and be with your family.

I love to capture the quiet strength and beauty of motherhood as I direct your session to show you nurturing your children and being loved on by your husband.

Gone are the days of bribe-induced smiles from kids and stressed grimaces from mom and dad.

I encourage families to relax, play together, and cuddle close. As a feeler who longs to feel deeply the poetry of life, I direct families in a way that shows the poetry in the midst of their crazy, messy, wonderful lives.







work with me
Susannah Ray Photography

A meaningful and fun photo experience with your spouse and kiddos in one of the beautiful outdoor locations near St. Cloud, MN: Whether it is a field, lake-side beach, or wooded area, I am always on the search for more beautiful places to recommend for my clients.




work with me
Susannah Ray Photography

Intentional photos of the expectant mother in a beautiful outdoor location. Her significant other and other children are included in the session as well. Flowy dresses to highlight your beautiful bump and make you feel as stunning as you are highly recommended!




work with me
Susannah Ray Photography

Intentional and stress-free photos of your beautiful newborn (and his or her immediate family) in either the comfort of your own home where baby's memories begin, or in a beautiful outdoor location near St. Cloud.