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Families are Seriously a Gift

I often find myself going in and out of periods of "being present" as a parent. I laugh at a new phrase my child has picked up, or sometimes I am just amazed that this tiny human is my child. I also find myself dragging and looking forward to nap time or bedtime when I finally have a moment of peace and quiet to think or reflect more deeply. Parenthood is no joke and requires a lot of physical and emotional stamina, but I think most parents would agree with me when I say that I wouldn't have it any other way.


Something wonderful about family sessions is that it creates this unique time and space as a family to slow down a bit and make memories together. It's like a mini-family vacation that someone is documenting for you. You don't have to disengage and get your phone out to capture something, because that's MY job. You can be fully present, show extra affection, and know that who you really want to be as a parent (and as a family) can be a little bit truer because we helped document it together.

Time with kids goes by so quickly (at least they say that the days are slow, but the years are fast), and so it's so important to document your current relationship and interactions as they are today. You probably won't be able to fit your children comfortably on your shoulders forever and they might not always look at you with wonder in their eyes. Soak it up, get it recorded, and take time to celebrate this season as it is.

Amy Coles Photography
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Amy Coles Photography Family Session
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My Approach to Family Sessions

My Approach to Family Sessions

It is my goal to create a comfortable, safe, and fun-loving environment for your children to feel themselves in front of the camera. For those intimate relationships and family dynamics to come through, it sometimes takes time. It is my commitment to work hard to earn this element of trust, and I believe my years of experience working with children of all ages (and being a parent myself) often helps to set a positive tone. 


The first half of our time together is often getting comfortable around each other and earning trust. We talk, laugh, run around, and allow the parents to show affection towards their kids so they can feel more secure, confident, and safe around me and the camera. As parents, you often set the tone for your children. If you are relaxed and easy-going with the situation and with me as a photographer/friend, your children will be as well. Even if a child refuses to "cooperate", as long as you as a parent are smiling and having fun, we can often get some pretty fun shots. It can be a blessing that my camera doesn't pick up sound because sometimes siblings can be screaming or pouting off-camera in some of my best images. These are the daily ups and downs of being a parent (or a human), and I am fully aware of the positive energy and creativity needed sometimes to help someone feel at ease. I will do my best to bring my "bag of tricks" to help in these sorts of situations. It is also important as a parent to read the Tip and Tricks section so that you also can be as prepared as possible. 

 Some clients enjoy doing half of the session outdoors where kids can run around and be free, and the other half of the session indoors in a more intimate location (often at home or a beloved coffee shop). This allows for a variety of images and for a break to sit and breath/snack. As a parent, I know that I love running down trails and picking blackberries as a family, but I also love snuggling in bed. It can sometimes be a blessing to be able to capture both types of these beautiful moments as a family together that you can treasure for years to come.

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Family Session Pricing

Family Session Pricing

Package #1


-two hours of coverage (time for two locations*)

-online image gallery of at least 75 images to view, download (high-resolution images), print, and share

- copyright release for personal use of the images

Package #2


-one and a half hours of coverage (time for two CLOSE locations)

-online image gallery of at least 50 images to view, download (high-resolution images), print, and share

- copyright release for personal use of the images


Package #3


-one hour of coverage (time for one location*)

-online image gallery of at least 30 images to view, download (high-resolution images), print, and share

- copyright release for personal use of the images

Package #4 (Extended Family)


-one hour of coverage (time for one location*)

-bring on the cousins, grandparents, great grandparents and the dog

-online image gallery of at least 50 images to view, download (high-resolution images), print, and share

- copyright release for personal use of the images

-$75 travel fee (and gas costs at $4/gallon) for any shoot location outside of 15 miles from Chicago, IL (60623)

-natural-light studio option with a $60 studio fee/hr

-Veterans and those who are in active-duty receive a 15% discount on any and all packages

Tips and Tricks for Materity Sessions

Tips and Tricks for Family Sessions


The great thing about family shoots is that they can be done outdoors! I highly recommend that your session should be at a park (not a playground) or shaded field not too far from your home (within 30 minutes) that your kids may not be as familiar with. This allows your kids to focus on you and stay close. Ideally, the second half of the session would be held in the privacy of your home. I love the variety of images I get when I am able to spend more time with clients in these two settings. Many children often feel a different sense of security when they are back at home. This often leads to more natural, co-creative, and intimate images. We can bake cookies, make hot chocolate, or jump in bed.

Time of Session

Try to schedule a time that is ideal for your child(ten) and the natural light outside. The two hours after sunrise and before sunset are ideal for lighting. Make sure everyone is well-rested, well-fed, and has recently used the bathroom. An ideal time for many children is in the morning or soon after a nap (30-60 minutes after waking up). I find that when children have a snack before a session, they are in a better mood and the session runs more smoothly. If you have a snack in the car, make sure it is a mess-free and low-sugar snack (such as veggie straws, cheese sticks, etc.) and that you bring wipes. 

How to Prepare Your Children

You know your children best, but I believe it is important to prepare your children for our time together. Talk about your excitement about hanging out as a family together at our chosen location. Sometimes it can be helpful to talk in advance about the fact that they will have their picture taken. It's typically best to have the conversation about the photoshoot just a couple of hours beforehand so that the child does not have too much time to worry or be concerned. It is also good for kids to know that they will also be a time when they are “off” and we will just get pictures of parents or other siblings. As a parent, you can also prepare for this by asking some of your older children to choose an activity that they might want to bring along or a safe mess-free snack (cheese, veggie sticks, dried fruit) to eat or do unsupervised after we take larger group pictures.  For some kids, it's also helpful for them to know that there will be a treat after the photo session if they are able to listen to directions :). Do what you've got to do so that they can feel and look their best at heart.


As a parent, make sure that you feel confident and comfortable so that you can focus on your children. Choose solids with varying textures and interesting necklines as they always photograph best. Stay away from logos/words/characters on shirts, from tennis shoes, and from transitional eyeglasses. As a family, please make sure that all of your clothing and shoes complement each other, but try to avoid exact matches. I suggest alternating colors on tops/bottoms, and to make sure that both parents can hold either child and still compliment well. For outdoor sessions, even if the weather says it is going to be warm, layers are helpful since the weather changes so much in the morning and late evening (layers are also helpful for covering up after spills and falls). I will also be sure to reach out for a clothing consultation the week prior, but if you have any questions, feel free to call or email sooner. 

How to Prepare for an At-Home Session

I LOVE natural light and think it is always the most complimentary for indoor sessions. We will, therefore, be using only natural light in our time together. You can be thinking about what rooms in your home have the best natural light. We will ideally use some of these spaces for pictures, so please plan ahead in your cleaning.  If you would like images of your family in your bed, please try to make your bed in advance using a neutral-colored bedspread, and also be sure that your nightstands are clear. Try to turn off all the unnatural light sources in your home in the rooms we will be shooting (lamps and overhead lights), and open those curtains wide (unless they are white and sheer).

Other Day of Tips

Think ahead about what engages your children: certain topics or toys? Consider packing some of these personal items to help your little ones smile and look at the camera. Wooden toys and board books often photograph the best. Did I mention that you should bring a bag with some snacks and an extra change of clothes? :)

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