It's that time of year! Time to get ready for your Family's portrait session!! I know these things can be a little stressful and overwhelming, so I wanted to put together a little help guide to make things easier for you this year! This is a great source to get you guys ready and make this year's session a breeze!
Choose a great location.
A location can make or break a session. Trust me! Choosing a spot that is special to your family or that has gorgeous surroundings is awesome, but keeping in mind car and foot traffic, lighting, sitting fees, and availability is super important. If you’re not sure of locations, please let me know and I am happy to offer ideas. A good starting point is to decide if you want scenic with a garden or natural surroundings or urban like downtown or South Congress… once you have a good idea of what look you are drawn to, I can send great options your way. If you're doing a Mini Session, you're all set! I've done the hard work for you already!
Plan your family’s wardrobe.
Wardrobe seems to be every families most discussed and stressed detail. And, I get it! When you make family portraits happen once a year… or decade… you want to make sure you get it right. Choosing colors that coordinate is key. Don’t do the whole matchy-matchy thing… it doesn’t photograph nearly as good as some might think.
The best thing to do… choose one outfit for a family member that you absolutely LOVE and then base everyone else’s outfits around that color scheme. For example, say you got a dress for your daughter that is the cutest thing ever… Like this one.
Now, you see that the colors in this outfit are pink, blue and a gold or camel brown. Super easy to work with.
For dad, go with something super easy and light… guys always love blues, so let’s stick with that in this scenario for his shirt and then some light pants because we want to keep all the colors light and breezy since her dress is light. (Bonus tip: Keeping the colors all the samelightness helps make gorgeous photos.) So, here is dad’s outfit.
Next, we have mom… She can wear anything really and look great! Either light pink or light blue would work so well here. I love that pink jacket with the blue dress, but I feel that blue is a little too bright… so, I would do this darker blue instead. (But keep the Veuve, of course.) Or maybe go with a pink dress… especially if you have another kiddo. Then I would dress that fourth person in blue… or a combo of blue, pink and white.
Have more than one kiddo?? Options might look like this…
So, the full family could look like this… Not matching, but totally coordinating.
More wardrobe tips…
Don’t put kids in collared shirts unless they can walk freely on their own. Otherwise, you will be fighting the collar every time you hold them. Promise.
Dads… wear dress shoes or loafers. Sneakers do not photograph well at all.
Try to avoid putting kids in sneakers… they just don’t end up photographing well. I’d rather them be barefoot than have chunky running shoes on.
No words, logos, or characters on clothing. You want your kid(s) to be the star… not their clothes.
Having cute hats and accessories is great! I’m all for it. I don’t expect your kid to wear them throughout the session, but if we can get one or two shots - I’m happy!
Simple is best. The fewer patterns and distractions, the better.
Don’t be afraid to really dress up! Some of my favorite sessions included families who really went for it!
Timing is everything.
When planning for your shoot, consider a few things…
Lighting. The BEST times to shoot are right after sunrise and right before sunset. Those times change throughout the year depending on daylight savings, so check with me to figure out the best time to shoot.
Happiness levels. When are your kids at their best? Let’s shoot then!
Traffic. We live in Austin, so obviously we are going to have to deal with traffic. Be sure to plan accordingly for travel time. Your appointment is set for a certain time. We cannot make up your time on the back end of your session. If your session is scheduled from 9:00a - 10:00a, it ends precisely at 10:00a.
Being prepared. Give yourself a little extra time before your shoot to arrive, get the kids unloaded and all outfits straightened out. We rarely think about this when getting the family out of the car, but sometimes it can take a solid five to ten minutes just to get everyone together and ready to go. So, avoid putting that extra stress on yourself. Arrive ten minutes early so you are ready to start shooting right at your scheduled time. I promise it will make the whole experience smoother and less stressful for you!
Worst case scenario. Always plan for everything to take longer than it should/would. Always plan for someone to spill something on their outfit right when they get out of the car or fall and scrape a knee and bust a hole in their tights. Bring back ups!
Snacks and bribes.
I am a HUGE believer in snacks and bribes through photo sessions. Sometimes that is what kiddos need in order to get that great shot. So, feel free to bring their favorite treat. Keep in mind though… do NOT bring anything that will stain teeth, tongues or lips!! No colored candies at all!! The last thing you want is to have blue lips in every shot. No chocolate either! It always gets everywhere! Bring things like string cheese, white gummy bears, or any other treat you know of that won’t cause wardrobe or mouth issues. Or… just offer a bribe of a big treat when the shoot is over. That’s a win win for everyone.
It’s inevitable the worst will happen when planning for family sessions. Your newborn will spit up all over their perfect outfit. Your toddler will have a major blow out in their diaper. Your five-year old will have a melt down and rip out her hair bow. Feel free to bring back up outfits as I have mentioned earlier. Also, for kids under the age of two, I’ve seen lots of parents have luck with getting their babies dressed once they arrive at the shoot. That way there is no chance of major spit ups happening on the way. If your baby is prone to spit ups or acid reflux, bring a bib and keep it on your baby in between shots.
I will totally take control of this department! I know these things can feel awkward and forced and we never know what to do with our hands or bodies. Somehow we totally overthink everything we do as soon as a camera is involved. ha! So, I am here to guide you through this process and let you know exactly what looks the best!
Activities and props.
Feel free to bring an activity to do with your kids for longer sessions. Books, their favorite snuggly buddy, pets, bubbles, etc… We don’t have to use it at all or we can just use them in a few shots. But that variety is great to add a new fun part to your shoot so we don’t lose their attention!
Candids are everything.
Plan on not looking at the camera just as much as you do look at it! I love getting interactive photos of you with your kids. Talking with them, being silly, tickling, snuggling, stealing kisses, and just holding onto them. Showing your bond and connection with your babies (even the grown up babies) is what these sessions are all about. So, embrace the candid moments!
Extra Important tips...
Wash your kiddos' faces REALLY well right before you start your session. Eyes, noses, and around the mouths are always prone to sneaky distractions and my camera picks up EVERYTHING. If it’s runny nose season, bring tissues!! I do NOT edit snotty noses since that is something we can easily fix at the shoot. So, if you want your kids faces to look clean in the photos… make them clean in real life. I always try to do close up photos of those sweet faces, so we don't want them to get upstaged by a boogie or eye crusty.
If you can avoid it, don't bring a purse or bag with you... especially for mini sessions. These shoots go by so fast and we are shooting the whole time, so picking up and putting down a bag or stroller the whole time can be exhausting for you.
So excited to work with you and your family!!! Can't wait!