One of the reasons, clients (especially dad’s) shy away from booking a family photo session on vacation is that they think it will be boring, or worse create stress and conflict.
Rushing to be on time, running after kids and cajoling them to be in the right place and to smile, and then faking a smile yourself for the camera is not fun!
Luckily there are some tricks to avoid that scenario!
As a stylist, I’ve created concept designs for hundreds of shoots, and I’ve developed and learned the tricks that make all the difference!
As a photographer, I’ve seen what a huge impact a well-designed and organized session makes. The shoot is fun and more effortless, the picture-taking comes more easily, and the resulting photos are genuine and beautiful.
Here are my top 5 tips for creating a stress-free and fun photo session that will feel like part of your vacation.
No. 1 – Choose a fun & engaging activity for a Maui fun family photo session
This is the biggest advice I have for families wondering what they can do to make their Maui vacation photo session less stressful and more fun. It makes such a difference–it’s like a miracle!
Choose an activity to build your session around! This will give you all something shared to do.
It will relax and engage the kids, so they are not running all over the place.
It will create closeness and connection in the session because you’re all doing something together and not looking at some friendly stranger (the photographer). As a result your family will be more connected and close in the photos.
It will also loosen you up, if you are a bit camera-shy.
What sorts of activities are we talking about?
Hopefully something that’s meaningful to your family. If you build model sailboats at home, bring one with you and we can give it a go here on a peaceful morning.
And it doesn’t have to be a big production. You don’t have to wreck your brain to find something super meaningful or break the bank for props.
It could simply be hiking a gorgeous trail here on Maui together.
Or building the biggest sand castle you can, as a family.
It also doesn’t mean that all you’ll get is candid photos of you with the activity.
It’s a lot easier to pull everyone to the side for a moment and do that posed family portrait when you are having fun, rather than if all you’re doing is posing the entire time.
The important point is that you want to find something you can all do together. Something you like.
If you’re stuck, I have a dedicated post here: Great Ideas for Your Maui Family Photo Shoot.
No. 2 – Wear the “right” clothes for an easy-breezy, stress-free family photo session on Maui
Besides seeing parents run after their kids to keep them on track, clothing and hair are the second biggest stressors during a session!
Maui is windy! Luscious open hair will blow around a lot. You’ll have to check and adjust, and adjust again.
If this would stress you or your girls out, opt for a nice updo, braid, or ponytail.
I have a specific guide on Best Hairdos for Maui’s Windy Beaches.
Now you ask, what are the best clothes to wear for a stress-free Maui photo session?
It depends on the activity and look of your session. Most importantly don’t wear something that will hinder your enjoyment of the session.
Picking white outfits by the beach is gorgeous! But if your session is a beach walk—no activity involved to focus those kids—then they’ll want to play in the sand and water. Which is normal and what they should want to do, but it goes against your plan, and so you’ll spend a good portion of the session worrying about the outfits getting dirty and wet.
That doesn’t mean you can’t wear a dress, even a white one. Just make some smart choices.
Stylist’s Pro Tip: white swimwear will stand up to sand and water!
In the inspiration board above, the boy’s shorts are actually swim trunks and the girl’s dress is made from a strong fabric that will stand up to some beach play without much staining or wrinkling. The white shirt is simple and inexpensive and can be bought twice as a backup. All stylist-chosen to be beautiful AND stress-free!
Wardrobe styling for families, that creates an effortless but pulled-together look is a whole topic by itself!
To help my clients, I’ve created a Stylist’s Approved Maui Family Portrait Outfit Guide. It includes Dos and Don’ts, color combos, brands, and much more. Sign up here.
No. 3 – Pick a great location for your Maui family photos
Confession: I’m not a big fan of shooting at several locations in one session.
Travel time takes away your precious together-time and shooting time, and it just adds an unnecessary layer of stress. Especially, if you are doing your session with little kids.
Pick one location you love. There’s no shortage on Maui! Everywhere you look, it is gorgeous.
Trust your photographer that she’ll get some variety there. Besides, for a good album or gallery design, you want your photos to look cohesive.
Also, if you can help it, pick a location that isn’t on the other side of the island from where you are staying.
If it takes you a long time just to get to the shoot, there will more moments for problems and stress.
If you are in Lahaina, this is especially true. Sometimes that highway gets closed and there is no going in or out. We can make it work, but it adds stress.
No. 4 – Add some props to make your Maui family photo session fun
This one goes along with activity: if you’re hiking bring binoculars for bird-watching; if you’re building a sand castle bring some special seashells as decorations; if you’re making flower leis then the prop is the end result.
The main point is again, find something that you and your kids can get their hands on and actively engage with.
It will make them happy and it will add an interesting element to the photos.
Bonus: you’ll find that you are much more relaxed posing with something you can hold onto, too. Funny right?!
If a session concept is well planned, usually all these elements of activity, outfits, location, and props work together.
You’ll have picked a fun, activity that’s interesting to your family. The outfits support and don’t hinder your enjoyment and the look of that activity. The location fits what you’re doing–usually that’s a given once you’ve picked an activity. And the props will naturally be there because they’ll be tools or equipment.
Now you just have to worry about being on time! 😂
No. 5 – Choose a time that works for you & get help getting organized to make your Maui photo session stress-free
Timing is another huge stressor. And there’s really only one way around it. Take steps to make sure, you’ll be on time.
Don’t plan something super ambitious for right before your session that day.
I’ve had clients rush back from Hana for their shoot. On any given day driving that twisty road can be a challenge to couple’s dynamics, when there’s a deadline to make it’s even more risky.
So, plan a chill day and try to arrive 10 minutes early. It will make it easy-breezy for you to settle into the session.
But what’s the best time for family photos on Maui?
Usually, the best time to take family photos on Maui is during those golden hours: sunrise and sunset.
If you’re late we’ll miss a good portion of that great time for photos, and you’ll either get harsh light or no light, and your session will be shorter than what you wanted.
Of course, we can opt for a different time of day, if you think your kids will be too worn out during sunset golden light hours on Maui.
It’s something you’ll have to weigh based on your mommy or daddy experience: less great light versus possibly grouchy, tired kiddo.
Often clients will squeeze in an extra nap to make it work, because the light does elevate your photos.
Or opt for that early morning session on your first day here, when time difference is on your side and you all will wake up early anyways.
Bonus of an early morning session is that the beach will be empty and most beautiful at that time. No people photobombing you, no neon beach umbrellas—only your foot prints in the sand.
What to pack for a family photo session on Maui with kids?
I already mentioned that I do not recommend location changes for photo sessions with little kids. The same goes for outfit changes, and too many props.
The point is pack light and only what is absolutely necessary. Schlepping a big bag is cumbersome.
Also consider what foods and toys you hand to your kids on the way to the session in the car.
I’ve had a little guy not want to take of his new sunglasses the entire session. I thought it was adorable, but of course the parents wanted to see his eyes in the photos. It took us so much time to convince him to let them go. It can be done, but it is a bit of a stressor.
Bonus: Pick a photographer that makes it easy for you!
If all of this sounds like a lot to consider and the session hasn’t even started, don’t stress.
The easiest way to have a fun, engaging, and stress-free photography experience on Maui is to book a great photographer who is experienced and will help you with styling and organizing all of these details!
Most photographers will kind of give a few general tips and then meet you at the beach for photos.
If you decide to book with me, I offer styling services, where you can be assured that I’ll take care of it all.
I offer six different pre-styled Maui vacation family packages, as well as custom planned family sessions! So you can enjoy your family photography session on Maui just like it’s part of your vacation. It will be completely effortless for you.
It’s a Wrap!
If you’re the type of person who’d like a checklist, I have created one right here: Maui Family Vacation Photography Session Checklist, so you can make sure you got it all covered.
Some in-depth blog posts you might be interested in are…
–> Outfit Ideas for Family Photo Session on Maui
–> Best Hairdos for Windy Beach Sessions on Maui
–> 5 Different Locations for Family Photo Sessions on Maui
–> Tips for Extended Family Photo Sessions on Maui