How long are family photo sessions? 

When thinking about how long are family photo sessions, you have to consider a number of things. In this blog we will go over how timing can vary by the expertise of the photographer, the set up and location, number of poses, and finally number and age of the participants.

Things to consider for session timing

Some photographers and family session set ups are very efficient and quick, taking no more than 20-40  minutes of the family’s time. This especially true if the family wants a simple group photo of everyone looking and smiling at the camera in one location or with one simple background. The time in this case will only increase if there are many family members in the group.

If planning a lifestyle family session, by nature these photoshoots are a little more involved and may take a little longer. Lifestyle sessions often allow families to be more casual and in action, the family may play games or engage in an activity together – the goal is to look relaxed, less posed and “in action”. These sessions may take a little time to set up and include many posing prompts in different locations or props. Naturally these sessions will take a little longer approximately taking an hour to an hour and a half.

How long are family photo sessions? That will depend on a number of factors including number of family members, their age groups and the set of the family photoshoot itself. Usually you can budget about an hour for a full family session

Other things to consider is the time it takes everyone to get ready before the family session. Some photographers offer clothing options, hair and makeup services, and a little bit of time just getting situated on location. If you have little shy kids it may take a few extra minutes to get into the flow of things as the kiddos get comfortable with the photographer. Depending on you family session type, take into account at least 15-30 extra minutes for getting ready with the family at the session location.

Break down of how long family photo sessions are by type 

Newborn: 1-3 hours or longer 

Newborns and younger children will almost always require much longer session to allow for naps and feeding time. Newborns especially require a lot of care especially in unique set ups, props, and outfits. The more props included, the longer the session will be, with time in between clothing and diaper changes, baby feedings, and naps so that the baby is safe and comfortable throughout the entire session.

Families with young kids: under 1 hour 

If the kiddos are on their best behavior and easily follow directions the session will be short, but little ones can get tired, cranky and shy so individual photos of the kids may take a little time. The session can take as little as 20-30 minutes but some families with children will need time to get settled and help kiddos get warmed up to the photographer.

Short family session outdoors with grandma and couple of cousins in the suburbs of Chicago.

Family mini sessions: 5-20 minutes 

The point of the mini session is to be quick and efficient. The time slots can vary from 5 to 20 minutes per family depending on the photographer. Mini sessions are a great option for families who want a quick casual yet still professional photo of their kids and family throughout the year and seasonal changes.

Extended families with older kids: 20 minutes to an hour 

Extended families are usually quicker with a smaller group with a few simple pose/group variations: all family members together, grandparents and grandchildren, kids only, and individual families. Length of time will increase with more participants and the mobility of the family members. Families with elderly members and small children will need extra family session time.

Lifestyle family sessions: 1 hour +

Lifestyle sessions will vary by activity and the kids’ age. If you’re going for a casual hike outdoors like a park or beach the sessions will take a full hour. Simple sessions at home (while baking together, or playing in the family room) will take a little less time.

Chicago Family Photographer, family enjoying a walk near Michigan Aven


How long are family photo sessions? The duration of family photo sessions varies based on factors like photographer efficiency, setup, poses, and participant age. Simple posed group photos can take 2-30 minutes, while lifestyle sessions may last around an hour. Newborn sessions can range from 1-3 hours.

Always take into account an extra 15-30 minutes for getting ready and in the flow of things, and an extra 1 hour and 30 minutes if you choose to have professional styling, hair and makeup services.

At Mariya S Photography family sessions are not timed, though you can expect that they will take about an hour. We will always tailor the time according to your family needs, we will take a little longer if little kiddos need time to get comfortable, likewise we will keep the session short or reschedule if the kiddos are not feeling their best to ensure an enjoyable experience for every family. To get more detailed information about our family sessions, fill out a contact form here!

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Hi, I'm Mariya! I'm a Chicago branding and family portrait photographer. Thanks for stopping by, I hope you've grabbed a good cup of tea or coffee as you browse through the blog :)