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Colorful Wheaton, IL Family Photography by Wes Craft Photography

When everyone in your family looks great and feels great then we can have the most successful session  possible.  Here are some tips for looking and feeling your best during the family session.



Arrive 15-30 minutes early for your session and Wes or someone from the team will join you at the arranged location. For Cantigny Park Mini-Sessions Necia or an assistant will meet you out behind the Visitor’s Center about 10 minutes before your session’s start time to walk you into the park where Wes is shooting at that time.

If it’s cold or windy out then meet just inside the lobby of the Visitors Center.

When we’re at St James Farm we’ll meet you at the Bronze Horse by the parking lot.

Arriving early will allow you to get the kids acclimated to the surroundings, fed, use the restrooms, dressed, etc. On our fully booked Mini-Session dates any late minutes are lost minutes as there are families before and after yours.



Part of the fun of a family session in a park is the spontaneity that can occur. If the children need a minute to explore and stretch their legs then I’ll want to start with some candids of them running, exploring, looking curiously into  my lens.

Once they’re warmed up we can start group portraits, working through any and all groupings that make sense. e.g. the kids together, whole family, mother and child, etc.

I will ask for help generating expressions out of your children as needed. Usually this takes the form of playful games.

When your child/children are being photographed without you it’s best if parents stand beside one another and over behind my camera. This ensures that their face is generally turned toward camera even when not looking directly into the lens.

We ask that you please refrain from commanding “smile” or using threats like “ok fine, no ice cream”.  The pressure and confusion this results in will almost guarantee fake smiles or fearful expressions.

I understand the desire to get results quickly during your half hour session however I’ve found that it’s fairly easy to capture natural expressions from children through different interactions that we’ll encourage or questions that we ask them. In my experience, it’s difficult for most kids under 3 to “get” posing commands. With older kids we can demonstrate poses that they can copy. Don’t worry. It should work out.

Colorful Wheaton, IL Family Photography by Wes Craft Photography

It’s best if you come into a family session with little or no expectations except that we’ll capture some surprising and heartwarming images during our time together.


That said, it’s always my goal to capture the following photos;

  • Whole Family Together Relaxed
  • Whole Family Together Playful
  • Kids Together Playfully (posed, candid, or both)
  • Kids Together Relaxed
  • Kids Individually (posed, candid, or both)
  • If and when we get all those then we can do other break outs such as the following examples…
  • Mom & Newborn
  • Father & Son

Wardrobe Considerations

Time for 1 outfit is included for half hour mini-sessions. You will be required to add a second half hour time slot to your mini if you really want to change and do multiple looks. It will likely result in fewer overall pictures depending on how quickly you change. For 1 hour or longer sessions we are flexible but may be limited by access to changing rooms (cars, restrooms, a changing tent…these can all be options).

A great compromise is having an easy to change top or jacket to quickly switch looks without finding a changing room, going back to your car, etc.

Try coordinating your family group with 3 or fewer colors. As an example; Navy, Light Blue, and Coral Pink work well together. Two blue family colors are monochromatically working together and the 3rd is a complimentary color to those. Another example of that principal would be Emerald, Pine, and Amber/Gold. Neutral colors like tan, black, gray, or white don’t necessarily count against the 3 colors however if it looks odd to you then don’t.

Floral prints or patterns Generally have 3 or fewer colors and see to it that those colors tie in other family member’s color/s.

Please NO Neon or fully saturated colors! The color will reflect onto other nearby family members and cast garish colors onto their skin as well as your own chin. The photos will still work in black and white. Please do not wear hot pink, neon green, or something like hunter orange. 🙂

Generally avoid solid arctic white shirts. The shirt becomes the largest and brightest thing in the photo and white jumps out. In a portrait we like the faces to be the center of attention.


Fall Family Photography by Naperville, IL Photographer Wes Craft


Color Picking Aid! 

Adobe has a great web tool for seeing and creating color combos.


Use this THEME based color palate tool where you can type anything into the search bar to see color combos. Try entering “Fall” or “Summer in the City”.


Or EXTRACT COLOR THEMES FROM A PHOTO you upload to the site. Use a picture of the main dress or piece that you want to wear. Ideally a copy from the company’s official product photo on their website (it will be more color accurate than your cell phone snap). Once you’ve uploaded it you can sample the colors and and it will group colors with it.


Pro tip, try finding pictures of the destination at the time of year you’re going there and use that photo to create a color palate.


Meals & Naps

Hungry/Hangry kids are tough to photograph. It’s super important that your child have food in their system,  snacking at least 15 minutes PRIOR to the session.  If the child in question is under 3 months and spitting up a lot after nursing then we recommend that they be fed as far in advance of the session as necessary to allow them time to finish the majority of their spitting up prior to changing for the session.

For toddlers, please do not wait until the session has begun to hand them a pouch or nut bar. If they’re death-gripping a piece of chocolate, a cup full of cheerios, or getting sticky stuff all over their face and clothes it makes for a tough session.

Try providing them with something that they can eat in a bite or two and that won’t stain their hands or clothing. Use your best judgement. We get it!

In the event that your child naps in the car on the way to the shoot arriving early at the location will allow them to either complete the sleep cycle and wake or wake and have enough time to snack and fully become alert before the session. I know, it’s not always possible. Let’s cross that bridge when we get there. We’ll make it work!

Black & White Family Photography by Wes Craft of Naperville IL
Thank you! Drop me an email with any questions. It’s wes (at) wescraftphotography.com

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