• Ashley Norton Photography

10 Things to Pack for Your Family Portraits

You've done the hard parts. You booked your photographer, chose your location, and coordinated your outfits. You're in the clear, right?


The very last thing you need to do? Pack a bag!


I don't even want to count how many times I've felt unprepared, or made myself late, by waiting till the last minute to gather essentials. So, let me help you out.

A branding session by Fresno photographer Ashley Norton.

1. Non-sticky snacks

There's room for lots of emotions during your session--love, nervousness, joy, excitement, and maybe even some gas (hello nervousness!). There isn't much room for hanger, though. Some good non-sticky include: trail mix, granola bars, fruit snacks, cookies, grapes, cheerios, nuts, and pretzels. You'll want to avoid snacks that can stain faces or clothing, like taffy and chocolate.

2. Water

Sessions can be tiring work. Keep everyone hydrated and happy by bringing along some water because those dehydration headaches are no joke.

3. Comfy walking shoes

Some session locations require a fair bit of walking, so be sure to bring along some comfy walking shoes to get to and from the car to your session location. Your feet will thank you later on for the love.

4. Lint roller

Hair, fabric fuzzies, pollen, and all the particles always get stuck to clothing at the worst of times. Pick up one of those little dollar store lint rollers to be ready for whatever decides to stick to you during your session.

A newborn session by Clovis photographer Ashley Norton.

5. Favorite toys

I've seen favorite toys stop meltdowns, bring comfort, and get attention within milliseconds. They can also be brought into the photo to preserve what your child loves! They aren't little forever and their favorite toy will change--don't be afraid to capture some moments with it.

6. Baby wipes

No matter how much care you put in to try and make everything go absolutely perfect, it just won't. That's not always a bad thing. As a photographer, I can find the best connection in those imperfect moments. When tears threaten to spill over and mom pulls her toddler in a comforting hug mid-session, it can be a beautiful representation of their day-to-day life and building relationship. On the other hand, when baby throws up mid-session and little specks are stuck in your hair, you may not want to spend the rest of the session that way. Bring baby wipes to help you curb moments like those.

7. Hair brush

I've got fine, thin hair that gets tangled the minute I finish brushing it. My life improved when I started keeping a small brush in my car.

A couples session by Clovis photographer Ashley Norton.

8. Sweater

I usually recommend wearing sweaters or jackets during your session to introduce layers and textures to your images. If you go in a different direction, I would still encourage you to bring a sweater because sessions can be unexpectedly chilly.

9. Safety Pins

I grew up performing in colorguard for 8 years. I know the impact that safety pins can have on ripped seams, too-long pants, and loose clothing. Their impact is completely worth packing a few away.

10. Bug spray

As a mosquito attracter, I stand by this 100%. Bug spray takes a minute to pack now, and saves you looooots of itching in the future.

So, pack your bag and enjoy your session! May it be beautifully imperfect and capture all that you'd like to remember.