Family portraits for the reluctant Dad – 5 things you need to know


It’s March 2021, we have been in lockdown again since Christmas. Nobody has had their hair cut by a professional in months. None of our clothes quite fit right. Both boys have stretched and frankly we have only the vaguest clue what size shoes they should be in as we cant get them measured anywhere! Totally the best time to get photos done then yeah?!

Well…. Actually yes. For me it was. Because I can’t photograph any other families so it gave me the chance to photograph my own. Imperfect, with dodgy “done by mum” haircuts and too tight jeans.

Because that’s how most of us look and feel just now isnt it? Not quite ourselves, and like nothing quite fits.

I must admit I much prefer photographing YOUR family over my own. My kids don’t seem massively keen. And their Dad? Forget it. 

When I asked him if we could do this shoot he gave me the typical look of mild panic in response. I needed a chance to get back in the studio, shoot some fresh content, make sure everything was actually still working and I hadn’t forgotten how my camera worked. So off to the studio we went for a quick site check and a mini session.

Afterwards he seemed relieved. Like he had dodged a bullet or something. I was intrigued so we had a chat. I wanted to tease out of him the reasons behind his reluctance rather than just make assumptions.

So here it is, from one reluctant Dad to another. I hope it helps other families to overcome their worries. And if you’d like some post lockdown portraits, give me a bell!


professional family portrait od dad and two sons. All wearing white shirts and denim jeans in front of a grey backdrop. Photograph by Beautiful Bairns photography Edinburgh family photographer

1. You won’t need to take charge

When chatting to my husband about why he always seemed reluctant and stressed out by photoshoots the first thing he said was that he worried about having to get the boys sitting/posing/looking to camera as well as looking relaxed himself. It shocked me as I thought he understood that was MY job not his! When you come to the studio I will dip into my back catalogue of silly stories, noises and songs to engage with your children and help everyone to relax. I will explain where I need everyone to stand and where to put hands, feet etc. So you won’t feel under pressure to make sure that the whole family behave and work together to get a good photo. I will take care of all of that so you don’t have to worry about anything but your smile!

2. I won’t manhandle you!

I must admit this one surprised me! Thomas said he wasn’t keen on having someone move him or mess with his hair. So for the record I won’t be shoving you around or messing with your hair! What I will do is explain exactly how I want you to stand/sit, where to position your hands and feet etc. I may ask you to tilt your head or bring your chin forward. That’s it really. No patronising hair ruffles, I promise you that!

3. I don’t expect your kids to be quiet and still!

I think this is one that a lot of parents worry about, not just dads. How will my kids behave in the studio for our family portraits? What if they’re noisy or cheeky? Well in truth, they probably will be! It’s a new environment with lots to look at, they’ll want to touch stuff. They’ll make comments that might make you cringe. And most likely I’ll have heard it before and I won’t bat an eyelid. Even with mini sessions there is enough time for kids to come in, have a look around and suss me out. And if they have a sassy attitude it won’t phase me, I have a sassy 4 year old so I am very used to it!

4. It won’t take hours

I get it, your time is precious and especially family time. Kids get bored, you get bored. So my mini sessions are ideal if you are short on time. Only 30 minutes so easy to slot into a busy weekend. But still plenty of time to ensure everyone is relaxed and I can capture genuine smiles and giggles. You want your family portraits to be authentic not stiff. So short and sweet definitely helps!

professional family portrait od dad and two sons. All wearing white shirts and denim jeans in front of a grey backdrop. Photograph by Beautiful Bairns photography Edinburgh family photographer

5. I don’t expect you to be a model

“It doesn’t feel natural to be in front of the camera” was something my husband mentioned. And it’s something I think almost everyone worries about before a photo shoot. Unless you are a Kardashian and Love island star you probably don’t love the idea of having your family portraits done. You want the finished product – beautiful photos of your family to enjoy for years. But actually having to stand in front of a stranger and pose and smile? Eek! I don’t expect parents to come in and know what to do, that’s my job, and I’ve been doing it for a decade now. I have a few tricks up my sleeves! THE single most common comment I get from Dad’s as they leave my studio is “that was much more fun than I expected”. Yes I’ll direct you where to stand and put your hands but I’ll also chat to you all, suss you out and hopefully make you feel a lot more at ease than you expected. Because if you feel awkward, you’ll look awkward. And I want you to LOVE your family portraits and see your family reflected as they truly are in your photos.

If 2020 taught us anything it’s that none of us can take life for granted. Your kids won’t always be so cute and little. Your parents won’t always be around.

If you’d like to find out more about family portrait sessions please click here for full details including pricing and how to book.

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