8 tips for a family portrait session that you’ll actually enjoy!

 family portrait session tips

When it comes time to book your family portrait session, do you start to feel a little nervous? Do you worry that your kids will misbehave? That they won't smile or co-operate? Do you worry about what to wear for the session? Well fear not, I have created a list of family portrait session tips to help you prepare and make sure that you actually enjoy yourself!

Tip 1: Choose your clothing carefully

Have your clothing chosen way in advance and make sure that your outfit choices are comfortable and attractive.  What do your dream family photos look like? If they are soft and elegant?  Chose neutral colors with soft, flowing fabrics. Remember to take into consideration the location of your shoot. If it is on a beach, then choose clothing that is suitable for sitting on sand, strolling in the surf etc. Bring a spare set of clothing for young children, as accidents with food/drinks on the way to the shoot do happen. Having a second outfit for kids that fits in with your colour scheme is a great idea too in case young children choose to run into the sea at the start of the shoot.

Tip 2: Be well rested and well fed

Be certain not to schedule your photo session around your child’s nap or bedtime.  The best time for lighting is the one hour before sunset and after sunrise.  If this is a bad time for your children consider having an at-home lifestyle shoot instead as they can be scheduled for anytime during the day.  Don’t show up to a photo shoot on an empty stomach.  Be sure to give kids a healthy snack before the photo shoot as shoots can run over time.

 family portrait tips Sydney

Tip 3: Don't teach your kids to say "cheese"

Please, parents… leave the “cheese” at home. So many times I have found parents who stand behind the photographer and scream, “Say cheese!”  Yelling and demanding young children to look at the camera to smile will only stress your children out (not to mention the photographer) and will result in strained, unnatural and often unflattering photographs.  Step back, and allow the photographer to naturally interact and talk with your children.  This will result in natural, gorgeous smiles.

 family portrait tips

Tip 4: Parents, stay calm and let your kids be kids

Children are unpredictable, especially kids under the age of five. They are little. Make it fun and try to go with the flow. Expecting them to sit still and smile at the camera on command can stress you out and they will feel it. Try to relax and allow your photographer to capture your family connections and the personalities of the kids as they are now. Not a forced fake version of them. I promise you that (even if you don’t appreciate it now), photos of those moments when they are “misbehaving” or expressing their emotions will be priceless mementos in just a few short years.


Tip 5: Make this session about fun and your family's connection

Talk to your kids about how the photographer likes to be silly and get natural smiles and laughter. No stiff poses and “smiling for the camera”. Think of some activities and games that you like to play together that could be incorporated into the session. Does dad enjoy throwing the kids up in the air and making them laugh? Do you like to tickle each other or blow raspberries? Do things that are fun and you’ll end up with great, natural photos of candid laughter and joy.


Tip 6: Include a favourite toy that could be featured in your shootI

It not only helps to get your children to relax but it can also make a wonderful keepsake to look back on their favourite toy.


Tip 6: Remember that eyes follow the camera

It’s tempting to try to grab a couple of quick phone shots for Instagram or Facebook when the kids are adorably posed. Don’t do it. The minute you pull out your phone, you’ll distract your child. Instead of looking directly at the photographer, they’ll be looking at you. Get snapshots before or after your professional session.

 beautiful fun family photography westleigh

Tip 7: Get into at least one photo with your family

Be honest with yourself. How many photos do you have of YOU with the kids? As women we can be over critical of our appearance, feeling like we are not the right weight, or that we look tired etc.  But the truth of the matter is, we need to be in pictures with our kids because these are images our children will look back at in the future. If you don’t exist in photos, how will you be remembered?

 family portrait tips

 Tip 8: Don't promise your kids anything

I think it’s no secret. Kids are impatient. Promising your kids toys or lollies during a photo session will make them want that promise more than EVER making them impatient and cranky. A promise will make their thoughts focus on something other than the photo session which will make your photos look difficult and awkward. “Smile to the camera and I’ll give you they did what you asked and you still didn’t give them a biscuit. Instead, prepare your kids by talking to them and SURPRISE them at the end of your session (without saying anything about it prior) with a trip to the ice cream place on the way back home because their were such a big kid about the whole experience. They will love you forever.


Bonus tip: Don't forget to get a photo with just your partner

When was the last time that you had your photo taken with your partner and no kids? A selfie doesn't count! Many couples admit that they haven't had a photo taken of just the two of them since their wedding day. It only takes two minutes at the end of the shoot to take some photos of you both. Cherish the love you two have and cherish the special moments you create together with beautiful portraits of your both.

 family portrait tips

I hope you enjoyed these family portrait tips. If you would like to book your own family portrait session, please get in touch.

Sunset Maternity Session on the Northern Beaches

The Northern Beaches in Sydney is where I photographed this sunset maternity session. It offers such a variety of beaches, sand dunes and lagoons and rock pools. North Curl Curl beach is always gorgeous, but especially on one of those summer days, when the air is hot, the sky is blue and the sunset is red and powerful. The most wonderful part of my job as a professional photographer is not actually taking pictures of people, it is listening to their stories. It is such an honour for me to connect with a person and learn about their life, love, dreams, struggles and tell that story in my images.

Nohelia and her husband are from South America. Now living in Sydney, they were expecting their fist child in early 2017, a little girl. They even brought their dog Bandit along to the session and we included him in some of the photos...after all he is part of the family too!. Nohelia had planned her wardrobe and brought some outfit changes because she knew exactly how she wanted to look in her maternity photos and accessorised really well.

The session was very relaxed and fun. I hope you enjoy the photos. If you would like to book your own sunset maternity session on the Northern Beaches or elsewhere, please get in touch.

 Sunset Maternity Session

Lucy's lifestyle newborn photography session | Sydney North Shore

 Lucy's Lifestyle Newborn Photography Session

Lucy's lifestyle newborn photography session took place when she was almost one month old. I knew this family really well because I had photographed them all three months before for their maternity shoot on North Curl Curl Beach, I was really looking forward to Lucy's lifestyle newborn photography session and going to Ruth and Chris's home for the shoot. Lifestyle newborn photography is very different from studio newborn photography.  It is more relaxed and because there is no posing, it is possible to schedule the session anytime from birth. Parents don't feel pressure to have their shoot straight out of hospital. Lifestyle sessions are all about simplicity, connection and storytelling. This approach to photographing newborns is less about capturing the baby as a singular being and more about photographing the experience of welcoming a new child into the family.

The majority of the shoot took place in the nursery, the whole family sat on cushions on the floor, snuggled up, read books and played. Lucy stayed asleep for most of the ninety minutes. Her big sister enjoyed showing me all her toys and introducing me to her new sister.

Ruth & Chris, thank you for inviting me into your lives, and trusting me to capture this beautiful chapter in your family's story.  May your collection of images forever remind you of the precious miracle of life.

Finally, would you love to have  session like this for yourself? Then please get in touch! I would love to chat to you and plan a lifestyle maternity photography session with you. Drop me a messages via my contact page or comment below.

 Lucy's Lifestyle Newborn Photography Session
 Lucy's Lifestyle Newborn Photography Session
 Lucy's Lifestyle Newborn Photography Session
 Lucy's Lifestyle Newborn Photography Session
 Lucy's Lifestyle Newborn Photography Session
 Lucy's Lifestyle Newborn Photography Session
 Lucy's Lifestyle Newborn Photography Session
 Lucy's Lifestyle Newborn Photography Session
 Lucy's Lifestyle Newborn Photography Session
 Lucy's Lifestyle Newborn Photography Session
 Lucy's lifestyle newborn photography session

North Curl Curl Beach Maternity Session: Ruth + Chris

North Curl Curl Beach Maternity Session: Ruth + Chris

Ruth and Chris have recently welcomed their second baby girl into the world & let me tell you, these fabulous parents and their eldest daughter had great fun at their North Curl Curl Beach maternity session earlier this year. While we walked around the beach, the sun was starting to set for golden hour photos.

North Curl Curl Beach is one of my favourite locations to have a photoshoot as it offers both grass and sand to utilise for the photos. There is also a small lagoon which is very shallow and safe for children to paddle in.

When Ruth contacted me initially we chatted about what she would wear. I showed her photos of my range of maternity dresses that are available for all my clients to wear if they choose. As she is blonde, I recommended that she wear the chiffon pink dress and that she start the session in her own dress, that would tie in with the blues that Chris and their daughter was going to wear.

Their three year old daughter was looking forward to being a big sister. She told me that she had a doll and that was her baby, just like her mum's. We had lots of fun playing in the sea and on the beach. Luckily it was a very warm Autumn day and we had a breathtaking sunset too, to finish off the session and you can see it for yourself below.

I couldn’t have been more honoured to take these photographs that they will get to pass on to their children for generations. Enjoy!

 North Curl Curl Beach Maternity Session
 North Curl Curl Beach Maternity Session
 North Curl Curl Beach Maternity Session
 North Curl Curl Beach Maternity Session

North Curl Curl Beach Maternity Session

 North Curl Curl Beach Maternity Session
 North Curl Curl Beach Maternity Session
 North Curl Curl Beach Maternity Session
 North Curl Curl Beach Maternity Session
 North Curl Curl Beach Maternity Session
 North Curl Curl Beach Maternity Session

PS: If you would like to have a look at their lifestyle newborn shoot, that took place three months later, have a read of that blog post now.

Tamara & Max's Engagement Party

 jewish engagement party photos

Tamara & Max | Jewish Engagement Party on Sydney's North Shore

I have photographed many events but this was my first Jewish engagement party. It was an absolute delight photographing Tamara and Max’s engagement party in Sydney amidst their family and friends. The party took place in the backyard of Tamara's mum's home. The garden looked stunning and there were flower petals and tea lights floating in the swimming pool. Around 70 guests streamed in as the sun began to set.

Tamara is from Sydney and she met her American Fiancé Max in the states when she worked there. The couple got engaged in August this year and threw their beautiful engagement party on a trip home to Australia. It was also an opportunity for all the family to meet Max.

I captured some stunning shots of Tamara and Max in the garden. Shots were a mix of them smiling at each other with love in their eyes, while others were of them laughing together. These images show off how happy they were to celebrate this milestone occasion. I also got great family photographs as well including one of three generations - Tamara, her mum and her grandmother. These are definitely images they will look back on for years to come.

A delicious buffet was catered for the guests; with a bar area serving cool cocktails and wine. Everyone looked happy and relaxed. There was a wonderful buzz in the air. Speeches were made by the bride’s father and fiancé, both of which were well received by the joyous crowd. After the speeches, the Rabi blessed the new couple and their engagement cake was served.

I loved shooting their engagement festivities and am grateful to have been a part of their night. Please enjoy looking at these engagement party photos.

 Sydney Engagement Party Photos
 outdoor engagement photography sydney north shore
 engagement photos sydney north shore
 jewish engagement party image
 Engagement Party Photos
 Engagement Party Photos
 Sydney engagement party
 Jewish Engagement Party Photos
 engagement photos sydney north shore

While you are here, why not have a read of this page all about my event photography package and what is included.

Creative ideas for decorating with your family portraits

 Large photo prints displayed in the home

You've had your photo session, you have received your gorgeous photos, shared them on social media and now it's time to work out the best way to display your family portraits in your home.

Personal touches are what makes a house a home, and nothing does that quite as well as family photos. There are so many options available today, so here are some creative ideas for decorating with your family portraits.



  • Wall groupings behind the sofa may the traditional way to display your family photos but that doesn't mean that it has to be boring. In living room artwork should be hung lower as people are usually sitting down. A good way to ensure you're placing artwork at the right height is to hang it one hand width above the sofa.

  • Who doesn't love a photo album? Yes, it might not be a 'display' but it can become a feature on your coffee or side table. Family and friends will enjoy flicking through it when they pop over and so will your kids. Many of my clients have told me that their children love to sit and look at themselves in their newborn album and they can't believe they were ever that small. Albums printed on archival paper will last for years and will not fade so you can be sure that it will be passed down toe generations.

  • Everyday moments are just as important to display and keep safe. Have you ever thought about how you would display your Instagram photos so that they are not only on your phone? Instagram frames are a perfect way to mark those important moments up on your wall for everyone to enjoy for ever. You can create your own display using small square frames such as in the photo below or there are some photo labs such as Atkins Photo Lab that sells Instagram frame packages, that includes a frame and print to start you off.

  • A newish trend is to use a picture ledge to display your frames on. You can purchase ledges from Ikea or you can make your own using wood. Picture ledges are versatile because they allow you to quickly and easily swap art in and out on a whim. They are also great for displaying treasured memories with your photos. Add vases of flowers, keepsakes and add in some inspirational quotes for a very modern look.

I hope that you enjoyed theses creative ideas for decorating with your family portraits. If you have any new ideas or any comments please leave them below, I'd love to hear from you.

While you are here, why not have a read of this blog post about clothing tips for maternity shoots.

Mums let's exist in photos

 exist in photos

As mothers we need to EXIST IN PHOTOS

At many of my sessions I can tell that the mum feels a little uncomfortable having her photo taken. Some mums even suggest that the photo shoot should only focus on the kids and that I don't photograph her. Trust me, I get it, because I feel that too. As women we can be over critical of our appearance, feeling like we are not the right weight, or that we look tired etc.  But the truth of the matter is, we need to be in pictures with our kids because these are images our children will look back at in the future. If you don't exist in photos, how will you be remembered?

We want our kids to remember that Mum was there with them. They won't look back at the photos and see your wobbly arms, that you needed a haircut or that you were exhausted. Your kids will remember the laughs, the genuine happiness and just YOU being with your kids. I promise. So when I take a lots and lots of photos of Mum during my sessions it is because I want her babies to have these treasures.  

After seeing Sue Bryce (one of my favorite photographers) speak about how she’s creating a movement (#existinphotos) that encourages you to make sure you exist in photos with your family. 

I am just as guilty as any woman of not existing in photos with my family. I use the excuse that I am behind the camera so I can't be IN the photo too! But is is just that - an excuse!

Try this - go into the photos section on your phone.  Now scroll through and count how many photos you are in that ARE NOT selfies with your kids.  I love a good selfie.  BUT, the reality is that mums are normally the person taking the photos and documenting the memories.  There isn’t anything wrong with this but it means we are missing out on a really valuable moment with our families.  As mothers we need to EXIST IN PHOTOS.

In an effort to help the #existinphotos cause created by the amazing Sue Bryce, here is a photo of me and my son taken recently. Yes I can see my flaws, but I know that my son won't when he looks back at this in the future. He will remember our overseas holiday and the laughs that we had.


Need  more proof? Here are example of photos of mums and their kids that I have taken in sessions recently. When I look at these photos, I can see the love and joy that these mums have for their kids... and their kids will look back on these images in years to come, and feel that too.

 lifestyle at home newborn session sydney north shore
 exist in photos family and kids images
 exist in photos

Exist in Photos. Do it for them...and you will see that you also did it for yourself.

A guide to a 6 month old baby photography session

family photography sydney north shore

There are not many things better than a playful, 6 month old baby photography session

Have you wondered what an at-home photography session would be like? Here is my guide to how I shoot a lifestyle session at a family's home.

When I first arrive, I take the first few minutes to look around the home and I chat about any thoughts the family have for where they would like to shoot. I use this time to look for where the light is what areas of the home that lend themselves to the telling of their story. If there are older children I will also send some time getting to know them and showing them my camera so they are not nervous.

We began this session on the sofa as there was lots of light coming in through the huge windows. I asked them to make themselves comfortable and to sit nice and close to each other. I take a variety of family images and a series with each parent and their child alone. Rather than pose the family and ask them to smile for the camera, I encourage them to cuddle, play games and talk to their baby. This results in lots of natural, fun images that tells their story. If there are pets in the home, I always include them in the photos.

 tara ward sydney 6 month old baby photography session
 6 month old baby photography session
 6 month old baby photography session
 6 month old baby photography session
 6 month old baby photography session

As we moved into the bedrooms, I am constantly adjusting my settings as we move into various lighting situations so that I can shoot at a moment’s notice. I frame my shot in as many different ways possible and I am constantly switching between lenses. When I ask clients to cuddle on their bed, I always encourage them to start with sitting close together. The reason that I love to photograph families on their bed is that is allows them to chill out, lie down and cuddle.  One of my favourite strategies to “story-telling” is to shoot from different angles.

 tara ward sydney 6 month old baby photography session
 tara ward sydney 6 month old baby photography session

Many people tell me they are worried that their home is too small or messy to have an at-home photography session. Don't worry, all it takes is a simple declutter of the rooms we will be shoot in and you will be ready to go. I will give you lots of advice too on how to prepare your home for the shoot and where the best light is.

If you are interested in booking a lifestyle newborn or baby session, contact me and we can chat about booking something in.