Let's Get Started!
Family sessions can be a lot of work, especially when trying to get the kiddos ready and yourself! This guide is all about helping prepare you for your shoot with tips and tricks for everything I can think of! After photographing families for almost 4 years, I've seen it all - You Got This!
Thank you so much for welcoming me to meet your family and help capture beautiful photos for y'all. I hope that together we create not only incredible memories but loving, fun images as well. My style is "lifestyle", I love capturing families playing, snuggling, being goofy, and just loving on each other. I will always do my best to get those desired shots of everyone looking and smiling at the camera (perfect for the walls at home AND Christmas Cards!).
But, for the most part, I will be guiding you into poses that create the most authentic, genuine interactions. Once I have you standing or sitting where I need you to be with the most beautiful light behind you, I will encourage your children to play games with you to get them laughing, smiling, cuddling and interacting with everyone. I will be encouraging dads to show off their throwing kids into the air skills, having little ones give moms their best hugs and kisses ever.
All sessions are shot in the early mornings (after 8am of course - mom's need that coffee!) as well as in the evenings for optimal lighting - the time frame of this will depend upon the season and the sun. We will discuss this more in detail if we haven’t already. Please take some time to read through the following information as you prepare yourself and your family! I'm looking forward to meeting with you and your most loved ones!
All About The Kids
Preparing your kids for photos - or really anything - is a task in itself!
It is important to let them know what we will be doing as soon as possible - especially if they are unfamiliar with having their pictures taken during a professional family session. Let them know we are going to have fun, play games, tell jokes. Talk to them about me as if I am a friend so that they see you are comfortable with me, this usually helps them feel comfortable as well. Don't worry about telling them to smile during our session, some kids who have been coached to smile for the photographer get so nervous that they are fighting to laugh, relaxing and being their true selves. But I promise you that letting me get them to smile genuinely will make you the happiest when you see your final result. If I need your help to let them loosen up, I’ll let you know!
I’m a huge fan of bribery - (ice cream after!) is always a great idea for the ones who need a little extra encouragement. Treats during the session are totally ok! Just please make sure they won't leave their face messy. Skittles and gummy candy are always great but try and stay away from anything that has crumbs or chocolate.
Let's Go Dad!
Alright mommas, I’m speaking to you here. Like most guys, I'm sure your husband is feeling less than thrilled about our upcoming photoshoot - right? Don’t worry, this is totally normal. They likely already know how important this is to you and that is why they are a part of the session but remind them it's going to be painless.
Our shoots are always laid back and now with the flow so that it never feels overwhelming or stiff. Remind them they do not need to stand in front of me and smile the entire time, encourage him to have just as much fun as the kids.
More often then not I get messages from momma's after the session telling me how their husband said the entire experience was less painful then they thought it would be. I have also had mommas tell me their husband mentioned they should do another session a year or so later. If the dads are giving the mom's the reminder to rebook, that in itself is the biggest success for me!
Momma - This is for You!
You also deserve a huge pat on the back - and a large coffee - or a glass of wine (depending on the time of course!). Getting in the frame is just as important for you as it is for your kids and your husband or partner. Most times, I see mommas being the one taking the photos rather than being behind the camera - or phone - and enjoying being in the moment and the photo! A lot of the time, this is because we as women want to have the memories to look back on and enjoy the happiness that comes with it. As time goes on and the kids start to grow up and understand things, you never want to have to answer the question "Where were you, mom?". Because you were there too and it will be so nice to have proof of that.
On the day of our session, I am sure you will be nervous and that's so natural! When I have my family sessions, it gives me anxiety for days leading up to it because you just want everything to be perfect and you have planned everything likely yourself! It is a lot of work! All I ask for you is to come as yourself, live in the moment, take in your children. If anything is out of place then I will let you know. Just be present!
Styling + What To Wear
When I first started photography, I never thought about helping clients find outfits or giving them ideas on what to wear. During my first year of shooting, I started to notice a few different things - the first being a plethora of rainbows and patterns when families showed up for photos! The other thing I noticed was the amount of clients who would ask "What should we wear?!". It was about 6-8 months later and a crazy amount of photoshop and editing that I decided it might be time for me to step up my game and help my clients prepare better for their photos - after all, these might go in your home!
Fast forward to now - styling is one thing I love to help with.The biggest thing I can tell moms is to try to dress yourself and your crew in something they would wear again but is a bit more dressed up then you would usually wear. You want to look back on these images and look like yourself. Think layers - Probably the biggest difference between sessions that look great and sessions that look amazing. Little boys in a t-shirt, with a button-up over it, or suspenders over top of a t-shirt and some cords! All little boys look so cute in a Fedora for a cute little extra touch. Little girls: same thing, leggings, a fun skirt, tank with a sweater and a tasteful (not too big and overwhelming) headband or hair clips.
*Side note: Stay away from neon or bright colors, ball caps/cowboy hats (dads are welcome to wear it for a few shots!), clothing with logos or anything with wording. They look dated and tend to take away from everyone's gorgeous features.
As you think about your color palette, imagine your family being one complete piece of artwork. Each person/outfit will bring together a feeling of formality and coordination. Instead of everyone wearing the same shade of blue - think about what accent colors might look nice with said blue. Perhaps blue plaid shorts for your son with a t-shirt, suspenders and a hat. Pull some of the colors of his plaid shorts to find a great skirt or dress for your little girl. Dad can wear some jeans and a shirt that coordinates with the plaid shorts and skirt on your daughter, and finish it off with an awesome jacket. Mom will round the entire family out with some great boots, leggings and dress that (again) coordinates with the family color story. Neutrals or earth tones are a personal favorite, they are classic and will never date an image.
Feel free to checkout my Pinterest Page for outfit inspo for each season!
Head to toe
Remember to dress down to you and your family's feet! No scuffed runners for boys, but fun and dressier shoes. Runners are great if they are a solid color but anything that has vibrant or neon colors will likely stand out quite a bit in your images. Same for girls, try to stay away from Frozen crocs or runners or shoes, but more traditional Mary Janes or boots work best! Shoes stand out in photos.
What NOT to wear
Remember the look of everyone in khakis + white button-down shirts? That isn’t the kind of matching I’d like you to do. Again, think to coordinate without matching perfectly. Dads, instead of defaulting to a plain ole polo, get a shirt to compliment your wife’s outfit with textures, they photograph amazingly. Get creative!
Only one person should be in a pattern (usually mom) and everyone else should have a complementing color that pulls from her outfit. Too many patterns can get distracting and take away from the beauty of your family.
Also, let's talk hats (by hats I mean the ball cap style/cowboy)! I know men can be more comfortable in them but they will always hide your face or cover someone else's face in certain poses. If dad must wear a hat, try and convince them to wear a solid colored one rather then one with sports logos. I understand how men can be very sensitive of hairlines (my husband is) but we can do so many more close cuddling poses without them!
Head into Old Navy (or your choice of store) and mention you’re styling for family photos. They are happy to direct you - and free of charge! No need to pay a stylist when you have knowledgeable fashion advice right there in the store. Old Navy is a great resource as their entire brand is to be able to dress an entire family. One of my favorite kid's clothing online would be Zara Kids. Feel free to send me a message if you need any more ideas!
Just a few thoughts on your kids + the big day! I mentioned bribery. Love it! Keep in mind that most bribery snacks make messes and have dye in them which will change your kids' mouths. I suggest keeping the goodies in your bag or car until after we’ve finished or bring them out as a last case scenario. Please make sure your children go to the bathroom before leaving, as well as limiting their liquid intake beforehand unless they are completely comfortable using a bush. Sessions with younger children typically last 30 minutes to an hour. If your little one isn't accustomed to staying up until sunset, please adjust their naps as best you can, and rest assured that one night of staying up past their bedtime will be just fine as we will be having fun (I promise!) As with any age, I take my time and do my best to allow your kids to feel comfortable around me and know we are going to have a blast!
During the shoot, if you are not in the picture, please let me interact with your child, unless I ask for help! Many parents will stand behind me trying to get their babies' attention and what this does is distract baby from me and look away from the camera to you! I like to give the little ones a chance to just play with me, so it's okay if they aren't giving big smiles right off the bat. Trust me and trust the process.
Mom and dad, as you focus on your children, don’t forget about yourself! Keep your posture good and be mindful of where your hands are. Always look at each other, smile at each other and always be touching. Close hips together, holding hands, arms around your wife's hips and creating interactions. Unless I ask you all to look at the camera then just look at each other and love on each other! Don't worry! I do have tricks and tips do make this happen more organically so do not feel pressure! Something else to keep in mind is to be watchful of your own expression as you’re trying to get baby to smile. Remember you are in the photos as well! If you make a silly face to get your baby to smile, smile immediately after so your silly face isn't in the images. I am a moment-based photographer so I am trying to capture the moments otherwise forgotten but still do a pretty good job at noticing things that are looking a bit off. That's my job, trust me and trust the process.
A quick but important note: if the weather turns out warmer/cooler than you anticipated when putting together outfits, please adjust what everyone is wearing. Doing a session when it's sweltering and kids are overdressed is never fun. Likewise, if a cold front comes through unexpectedly. I will most likely cut sessions short if I think the kids are too cold/overheated or not having it because of them being uncomfortable. The best tip I have is regardless of the weather, always have a sweater to coordinate with their outfits so if we get a chilly wind come through, they can stay warm. It is always best to have too many clothes than not enough.
I will be watching the weather all day, likely up to days before. If it doesn't rain but is overcast, we can still do the shoot, in fact, some of the best light is overcast light. If it looks like a 60% or greater chance of rain, we will make the call together to reschedule based on both our schedules.
Illness and Late
Just as important as the weather, are you and your family's health. There isn’t anything worse than an unhappy and sick feeling child, it's hard on you and it's hard on them - they especially do not want to be in front of a camera. At the first sign that your kids aren’t well, please give me a call and we will reschedule for the soonest available date. Just keep in mind with busy seasons it is harder to schedule in so if anything comes up let me know as soon as possible.
Being late, it happens! Life happens! I get that. I try to only do one session per evening but during the busy season I can have up to two. I will wait up to 15 minutes before having to leave to meet my next session so I am not late for them. My contact information is on almost every email you will get from me so just give me a call if you know you're running behind so I can plan accordingly.