I’ll start out by saying that rest and hydration is the best preparation for any photo shoot, especially a family photo session. As a mother myself, I know this is not an easy task, but even just a few of the following steps will greatly impact the success of your photo session. With that said, on to our must-have list!
- Do your research.
Assuming you haven’t already chosen a professional photographer, the most important thing is to find a photographer whose style and personality match what appeals to you! Do yourself a favor and try not to choose by price alone. As with most products or services, you get what you pay for, and it’s no different with photographers. Be sure to check out portfolios and let your feelings about the images you see guide you to the photographer that best fits your style. Hiring a photographer is an investment, so you want to make sure that you are happy every step of the way.
- Book an in-person or phone consultation.
Any photographer worth hiring would be happy to consult with you about your vision for your session. They want to talk with you, answer your questions and make sure you feel comfortable hiring them.
Always schedule your photo session at the time of the day that your children are happiest. Try your best to avoid scheduling near nap time or meal time. If they have just had their immunizations or are feeling under the weather, this is probably not the best time for a photo session either. Making sure your children are well rested, full bellied and feeling well will likely make for a more successful session. Bringing along rewards or treats to look forward to helps motivate children to cooperate as well.
- Final Art Placement.
Before your session, you should think about the final location of your images. In other words, where in your home or office you plan to display your portraits (or whether you will use them for a greeting card or announcement). Considering what you will do with your images and where they will go will also help determine the color scheme or theme for your session. This will be extremely helpful when selecting clothing and locations for your session as well.
- Go Shopping!
Get those gym shoes on and get out to the stores with your photo session in mind (please do this in advance and not the day before your session). You don’t necessarily have to buy a new wardrobe, but maybe just a few accessories or pieces that work with what you already have in your closet. A couple of new items always makes you feel confident and stylish. Be sure everyone’s clothing is clean and pressed the night before. This is a special occasion and should be treated as such!
Keep your color scheme and time of the year in mind and choose outfits that work with the season your session will fall into. If you’re doing a June photo session on an 80° Chicago day, a wooly sweater dress, tights and boots would most likely clash with the seasonal spring flowers and summer scenery. You get the idea 🙂
- Get Plenty of Rest.
When we’re tired and stressed out, it shows up on our face. We breakout, we get dark circles and we just plain look tired. When we get plenty of rest, we feel confident, have better posture and we look healthier. A family session is about celebrating what makes your family so beautiful and unique and let’s face it, mom and dad are a huge part of that! Be sure that your final order is not just portraits of the kids. Your kids will love seeing you with them in the images and with plenty of rest and relaxation, you will love seeing yourself in them too. So be sure to do a little pre-gaming by loving yourself and giving yourself some time to rest and get pampered a bit!
- Fingers and Toes.
Everyone’s fingers and toes should be clean and groomed (Dads too, please :). Ladies, nails should be a soft or muted color (I recommend nude, french, light-pink or softer more muted seasonal colors). You should be mindful that a super bright nail color might distract from you and your family. The focus of a viewer naturally falls first to bright colors, then on to the remainder of the image.
- Pucker Up! Be sure to bring some lip balm (for you and the kids) or gloss along on your session. Dry lips make you look tired and are difficult to edit too. Nice soft lips make everyone’s smile look better.
- Love Yourself.
Don’t be so hard on yourself, you are gorgeous dah-ling 🙂
No seriously! We obsess about the things we don’t like about our bodies and it makes us self-conscious causing us to pose funny or feel stiff in front of the camera. Try not to think about that crooked tooth, your nose bump, your arms or your thighs, we ALL have something. Vow to just relax and have fun before your session, and your beauty (inside and out) will shine through in all of your images.
It’s true you don’t have to smile at the camera in every image, but just try to have a good time and relax (are you seeing a recurring theme here?). So many times as parents, we get stressed trying to get our little ones to behave in front of the camera. As the family photographer I will tell you, please try not to worry about this. I promise it will all work out in the end. Just relax and let your photographer give some guidance. He/she will pull out their usual tricks with the kids. Remembering to smile and having fun with your family is going to make a huge difference between photos that feel void of emotion and photos that feel full of life!
In the end, it’s all about relaxing and having fun. Something we often forget to do in the busy life of a parent. Take the time, and I promise, you will be thrilled with your portraits.