Let’s take a step back and re-imagine what the perfect family portrait looks like.

It could be in your home on a Saturday morning making pancakes with your disheveled offspring. It could be at the zoo gaping in awe at the amazing animals. Maybe on a hike or on a bike? (OK, I’ll quit it with the Dr. Seuess.) Read on to get a feel for how I plan (ideally) low-stress family sessions to get the best, real shots of you and yours. Still need more info? Drop me a line and I’ll be happy to go through planning your session in detail to make sure you get a perfect experience.

Rule No. 1


I’ve said this before in other photo session guides, but I truly believe that the best portraits come from fun and memorable experiences, and those don’t happen if you are stressed about who isn’t standing up straight or who didn’t button up their shirt all the way. Is your house kind of mess? Don’t worry about it. Are you running late to the shoot location? Don’t worry about it. Stress and anxiety are magnets for bad photos.

She takes the time to read her mags after getting the mail in Rancho Santa Margarita during a relaxed in-home family session

Moving On

Where to?

Sometimes there are just those days where you don’t want to leave the house. That’s fine. For newborn sessions especially, I encourage you and your family to thrive in your element. Where are your kids most comfortable? Where are you most comfortable? Documenting the everyday chaos of family life is something I thrive on, and the home is the perfect place to do that. Going on vacation or just want to get out and about? We can plan a day out for fun photos as well.

We’ll chat over the phone to figure out these details.

Down & Dirty


Sessions typically take about two hours, but since kids can be notoriously unpredictable, I’ll usually wrap it up when they are finished. In-home sessions follow the ebb and flow of your daily routines, so don’t feel like you have to work around my schedule to make this work. For outings, I’ll happily follow you around at Disneyland or Lagoon for the whole day. Family vacations are times when you shouldn’t have to worry about lugging around a camera on top of all your other outing necessities.

Minnesota family session on family farm, playing pool, fun farm life

Tips & Tricks

Sometimes kids have their own ideas about what’s going to happen that day. And (as you are aware) meltdowns happen. Don’t worry about what I am “looking for” and just focus on your kids. If you feel the need to calm them down or ride through it, you’re the parent and you know your kids best.

My sessions are mostly pose-free. When you and your kids are having fun, smiles come naturally.

Sometimes kids get really nervous when they know something special is going to happen. Try not to talk the session up too much beforehand. We’re just going to focus on having a good day.


Questions & Answers

What is a Family Vacation session?

My parents always made a big effort to take us places when my siblings and I were kids. It was a huge effort on their part and it definitely made my childhood more memorable. So, on behalf of parents everywhere who just want to give their kids great memories, I offer to shoulder the job of picture-taker during your time together. Click that handy-dandy Get In Touch button below to tell me where you’ll be and when, and we can set up a call to chat details.

What do we wear?

I have some general what not to wear tips in my full family session guide, which you’ll receive after booking. Wardrobe is not a big deal, but there are a few things I like to avoid to make the photos a little more cohesive.

Do you do family photo essays outside of Utah?

Yes. 100 percent. I’m in a state of travel frenzy at times. I’ll gladly plan to meet your family either for a regular session or vacation session wherever.

What’s Next?

Browse images from past family sessions.

Take a look at my basic pricing guide.

Have more questions? Get in touch.


  • I'm finishing up a very special Family Photo Essay about Cache, who was born at 27 weeks and spent more than 10 months in the hospital before being discharged earlier this week. Stay tuned!
  • Man, has it been a year or what! 2018, I'm coming for you.

Also, I'm glad a couple double exposures made in the top spots. #2017bestnine
  • It's finally getting chilly outside! So let's stay in and make some family magic.
  • Give your sister a piggy back ride. 
Sure, Mom.
  • Awww daddy-daughter dance 😄
  • Hold that pose!
PS: I'm going to be in Joshua Tree next week! Message me if you want to shoot or just hike around. I'm lugging my 4x5 too!
  • So what if winter is nearly here? Let's make some Road Trip Session magic.
  • Don't bother me, I'm a sandcastle prodigy.

| SARAH ARNOFF PHOTOS | - Salt Lake City + Worldwide - 385-212-4847