Wedding photographer, Starbucks enthusiast, and lover of all things romance and weddings.

MEET Ashley

You booked your session & you’re almost ready to rock your photos. However, you’re now asking yourself what the heck do I actually need to bring with me when I come? It is a simple answer, not much! What I tell my clients less is always more for sessions. While time of the year is what typically lends a helping hand to your planning list these items below is your official SMP family session checklist.

Mom swinging daughter in her arm in front of a flower bush.  Family Session Checklist.

One: Personal Items

This includes everything from lipstick, combs or hair brushes, bobby pins, extra hair ties or headbands, so you can make a quick touchup when needed. Hand wipes & extra diapers if you have little ones are also a HUGE must! For Michigan winters include some hand warmers in your bag!

Two: Comfortable shoes for everyone

9/10 times I usually have a few locations in mind for photos, all based on light at the time of your session. This at times may be walking up a slight hill, walking from the front of the park to the back or down trails. So comfortable shoes are necessary

Three: SNACKS!

Definitely make sure to pack a snack, ESPECIALLY if you have kiddos under the age of 10! If you’re booking a deluxe session which typically lasts at least an hour, a snack may be needed in the middle. But don’t use it as a bribe or tell them ahead of time! This will then be the only thing they think about & can become distracted from photos.

Four: Water or a beverage

Drinks are a necessity, especially if its the middle of summer or your session is in Florida! So water for the kids, & yourself or by all means bring a beer… Okay maybe I am joking a little, but if you don’t bring something You’ll be thinking about it half way through & I don’t want you distracted from photos.

Dad facing away holding his daughter who is looking back over his shoulder looking at the camera. Family Session Checklist

Five: A few extra layers

Even in the summer in Michigan or the winter in Florida it can get cooler than anticipated. I always recommend including a sweater or jacket in your wardrobe choices. Also one thing I usually do even in the cooler months are to have you keep your jacket on in between shots or wrap you in a blanket, which is the next topic!

Six: A great blanket!

I have a whole bunch of blankets mainly I love them for the texture, however you’re more familiar with your outfits & the vibe you want. I always recommend bringing a blanket with you to sit on, throw over a log, set on a damp area etc. I bring a water friendly blanket to put under to save you from getting wet. Just try not to bring white or light colored ones so they don’t get ruined.

Use this family session checklist, throw all those things in a tote & you’re good to go! Now I also tell clients there are some things you don’t want to bring & please take these seriously.

Seven: If you’re coming for a maternity session.

Make sure to pack a few sweet little items like a small pair of shoes or your ultrasound photos. Not required but I like to include something sentimental for your photos.

Want a printable version of the checklist? Click here!

Little boy standing in a field, laughing at the camera and a a 2nd photo of a mom holding her baby kissing him on the cheek while he smiles at the camera. Family Session Checklist

Do not bring: Transition lenses

I can’t edit your eyes back in to these. So if you typically wear these types of glasses think ahead of getting a basic pair that don’t transition.

Do not bring: Toys you don’t want in photos

I have recently added a small wooden truck & wooden camera for little hands. Unless you are comfortable having it in photos don’t bring it from the car. These are some of my favorite places to get busy toys that don’t distract in an image: VidWood Toys & Green Bean Toys.

3 kids running down a trail looking at the camera. Family Session Checklist

Do not bring: Tired or Hungry kids

A tired or hungry kid, (okay grown-ups too), make photos A LOT harder. Typically kids are just less likely to cooperate, there tends to be more frustration, stress & upset parents. Try to make sure everyone has ate something before they come & that we time your session around nap times.

Do not bring: Multiple bags of things, downsize

Try to pair down what you will need to one bag. That way you’re not carrying everything during your session. You will end of sweaty, tired, hot & frustrated. Especially if you’re also trying to wrangle your kiddos.

It seems super details but this family session checklist will ensure you have everything you need & keep out the things you don’t want. Either way I hope this checklist helps you know more ahead of time!

Don’t forget to get your printable version of the checklist! Click here!

What to read more about what to wear to your family session? Click here!
Want to read more about what to wear to your maternity session? Click here!


The Family Session Checklist

Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017


Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

You read that right we almost moved to California in JUNE! How about a little life update from this end of the internet world. Whew where to even begin. I’ve been so fortunate already to see some of my favorite families already this year. More of you I know I will see this fall and […]

You May Also Enjoy:

Wedding planning can be stressful for a newly engaged bride or groom. Here are four these to know about wedding planning to make it as stress free as possible.

wedding planning

Leigh and Jim If you were to go to Leigh and Jim’s instagram profiles, you would probably see in their bio that they are travel enthusiasts and fitness junkies. This describes their life perfectly. Both the bride and groom love to explore, celebrate with their friends and family, and are all about staying active. In […]

Lea and Adam get married at a beautiful Michigan wedding venue. Henderson Castle looks as beautiful in the photos as it is in real life.

Michigan castle

Our Top 10 Business Resources


50 Creative Poses for Couples in Love


Engagement Session Checklist


Resources to guide you as you plan for your engagement session, wedding, or photography business.

remember to take these


Insert the embed code for your one-of-a-kind Interact quiz here!

What is your Bridal Style?