So you want to book a photo session. You realize this is one of the best investments you can make for your family, but you have concerns and questions. So many questions, like "what will I wear?" "how can I get my kids to cooperate for an entire hour of photos when they barely allow me to snap a quick shot of them on my phone?!" Well, as a mom of 3, an aunt to 7, and a seasoned photographer, I've got some tips and tricks to help ease those worries.
First on the list, (because if you're anything like me, and you love clothes, shoes, and any excuse to go shopping, this is also first on your mind!)
1. Let's talk about What to Wear (and what NOT to!) My best piece of advice: pick your outfits out in advance! I mean it. Don't wait until the last minute for this one, you'll wind up frantically raiding your closet, your sisters/friend's home, and/or the nearest shopping mall, adding more and more stress with every outfit you toss to the side. This is not how you should feel the day before you take the photographs you'll put in a massive frame to display over your fireplace for the rest of your days! You're cool. You're calm. You're collected. And you've got an amazing outfit that will bring out the color of your eyes, compliment your skin, and make you look like the radiant, beautiful soul you are. Because you went shopping for it weeks prior to your photo shoot. Trust me on this one.
Choose your outfit first. Then dad's. Then the kids. Build their outfits off yours. Find outfits that work cohesively rather than match. Try to incorporate approximately 3 independent colors, that work well together. See some of the sample images below for great color combinations. Compliment, compliment, compliment. You don't need to go find the same shirt in various sizes! Please, don't. Each person is a unique individual and deserves to exhibit their own style and identity (besides, everyone in matching shirts is so...nineties).
If one person wants to wear a colorful dress (you do, don't you?!) with a bold, beautiful flower print, make sure everyone else wears solid, softer colors in the same family. Like this:
More of a jeans and pretty top kinda gal? Wear something with soft, subdued tones. Complimentary colors in the same family (Your denim jeans with dark and light blue, cream and white shirts). Like this:
Or muted, neutral tones like this:
Some examples of cute, cohesive outfits for the whole family.
Toddlers look cute in just about anything, but these outfits are some great examples of colors that work well together.
And in the end, if you just can't find something for everyone, or you're really struggling, let me know, and I'll give you the guidance you need. I'm here to help you through, every step of the way.
Next up on the agenda:
2. Choose your location! We've all heard it before: location, location, location. Location is key. We will work closely together on this topic as well. We want a place where you and your family can stretch your legs, and be yourselves. A place that you will remember with fondness, not just as a pretty back drop (though that is important too). I have a list of locations I work from, but I'm always open to new ideas and places. This is, in fact, one of my favorite things to do in my spare time - ha! Spare time, who am I kidding? Mother of three, military wife, entrepreneur, there is no such thing as spare time - drive around scouting for new gorgeous places to photograph families. Bonus, my little guys usually sleep in the car while I get a nice little (albeit quieter) jam session in, listening to music other than the Moana, Trolls and Frozen soundtracks. MOM WIN!
So is there a place you love? A place with sentimental value for you and your family? The place you and your spouse met for the first time? Or maybe somewhere you went as a family where the kids and adults enjoyed themselves with minimal whining? Don't worry, if nothing comes to mind, I've got your back. I'll send you my list, and top picks, and we can work from that. But if there's a location that holds a special place in your heart, please tell me about it! We'll explore our options together and make it work.
3. Number three on the list comes threefold. It is one of the most important parts of preparing for your session. REST, HYDRATE and EAT. Please try to get a good night's rest the evening before your session. I know, by saying this, I'm probably jinxing you out of just that. But if you have your outfits picked out already, you've been in close contact with me over the last few weeks working through all the details, you feel prepared and STRESS FREE! A good night's rest is possible. Unless of course you have a little guy like mine, who likes to wake up every two hours throughout the night, just because. But in that case, you've learned to function on less sleep, and you've mastered looking fantastic and pulling yourself together, despite feeling like a cast member from The Walking Dead, amiright??
Also, drink lots of water in the days prior to your session. Make sure your kids do the same. (Believe it or not, this makes a vast difference in our appearance! Well hydrated skin and lips - from within, I'm not talking about lathering on topical moisturizer or chapstick here - glow, and it shows so beautifully in photographs!)
Finally, make sure everyone has substantial meals before hand. Hangry kids (and husbands!) are no joke. My 3 year old refuses to eat his dinner. He takes 2-3 bites a night, without fail. Which I'm fine with, because I know he eats a hearty breakfast and lunch. But man, by the time that kid wakes up in the morning (if you consider 5am morning...) he is one hangry little man. And will be utterly intolerable until I fill his whine-hole with food. (He's actually a sweetheart, truly. But hunger does something to a child, brings out the animal in them. They can't help it). So please feed your children (and husband) before the session. I promise everyone will be happier for it and that genuine smile and laughter will come with far less effort.
4. Give Dad a kind pep talk before hand. There's a reason I'm addressing this post to you, the woman, the mom. Dad's aren't always keen on having their photos taken, much less facilitating the event. So give him a little pep talk prior to. Maybe when you book, and again the morning of your session. Hand him a steaming cup of his favorite coffee or tea, and tell him how important this investment is to you. Remind him that the photographer you've chosen emphasizes fun, that you'll be spending an hour playing together as a family, with me there to document your connection, love and special moments. There will be wrestling, football throwing, tickling, pig piles (a.k.a. dog piles for those of you from the South ;)) and piggie-back rides. There will be kisses, hugs, dancing, and twirling. If Dad's relaxed, showing a little love and having fun, that vibe helps you relax, and trickles down to the kids too!
5. Cheese goes well with wine and whine. And you'll be able to indulge in the former two as soon as you get home from our session. But leave the cheese for later. Please. If you're coaxing your kids to "cheese" during the session, their smiles are going to be forced, and they're going to get real sick of making those forced faces real quick. Allow me to interact with your children and get them laughing and smiling naturally, or help out by engaging them as you ordinarily would, without a camera in their face. And for those really stubborn little ladies and fellas, I'm not above bribery. I'll have plenty of enticing -but healthy and NOT messy!- snacks and interesting distractions to get their attention *wink wink*
6. Have fun! Refer to number 4. There will be dancing, twirling, giggles, wrestling matches and tickles. There will be jokes, and laughter, and silliness. Let it happen. You'll be so grateful you did.
7. Bring something you love to do together. I usually bring a football for the boys (girls too, if that's their thing!) to toss around. Not a fan of football? Bring a soccer ball! Or maybe someone's favorite book. I'll have a big, soft blanket you can all cozy up on and read together!
8. And last, but certainly not least. Not everyone has to look at the camera! Natural is best - getting repetitive yet? But seriously, let me do the work! You