So many of my clients have anxiety about family sessions. What to wear, where to shoot, when to shoot, what if the kids don’t cooperate. I wanted to take a minute to try to make it a little easier for all of you by giving you some tips and tricks for what I think makes a successful family photo session. After years of family sessions, these are the things I have found that, if thought through, make your session go a lot more smoothly. Of course, when all else fails ask for advice. I’m here to help you find the right location or determine the right time of day and all of the rest.
Scheduling: The best times of day to have the ideal light setting are the first hour following sunrise and the last hour leading up to sunset. These times are known as the “Golden Hour”. Meaning the light is optimal for photos. I highly recommend to all of my clients that we shoot within those parameters to get the best results. I realize that time of day may not be the most convenient time for a your family. Especially if you have little ones on a strict schedule. Most photographers can be sympathetic to that and can suggest areas that will have areas of shade that will make shooting during a high sun time possible.
Location Selection: When thinking about what area you want to have your photo shoot, I would suggest thinking about what would best represent you and your family's personalities. The best advice I can give you is to take into consideration if the location has things you could potentially be allergic to, insects you’re opposed to and if there are fees associated with shooting there. If you have little one’s, I would also suggest thinking about if the area is fun for little ones so that they are making a memory not just taking a picture. My goal is always for a family to look at a picture years later and smile thinking what a great time it was. Not just "oh yeah we had pictures taken that day." If you aren’t sure where to go or what may work best, ask your photographer for suggestions. They will no doubt have a great ideas that will work best for your family.
Outfit Selection: I’ve noticed over the years that the question of what to wear seems to be the most difficult for most families. The days of the whole family wearing white shirts and khaki bottoms are long gone. I tell my clients to mix it up. Get a good color pallette and rock it. For example, different shades of dark red with accents of yellow, green, black. I definitely suggest keeping the patterns to a minimum. I would also suggest staying away from tops with characters on them. Too many patterns and/or character clothing can be distracting in photos. Layers, accessories and matching shoes are always great additions to the clothing party. Make sure to lay out your clothes the night before. That will eliminate hunting for them the morning of. Most of all, don’t be afraid to get bold. Have fun with it.
Rest and Relaxation: Make sure everyone gets a good nights sleep. Nothing makes a shoot harder then sleepy, grumpy people. I strive to make sure we are laughing and having fun during one of my family sessions. That won’t work if kids are tired and parents are stressed. Lack of sleep can do that.
I like to tell parents is not to stress the kids smiles. They will come. I’ll make silly faces at them, talk to them about their favorite stuff (I’m pretty fluent in Doc McStuffins and Paw Patrol and all things Nemo) and if we let them be themselves then their inner sun will shine. It’s okay for parents to take a step back and let the photographer gain some common ground. Of course, it also helps if mom/dad/auntie/uncle stand behind the photographer and coax little ones to look in the right direction too. Just let the photographer tell you what he/she needs from you. Trust that you hired a professional who has done this before.
It’s also not a bad thing to bring the bribery. I’m not above bribing a smile out of kid. Bubbles, a trip for ice cream after, some tv time or maybe there’s a shot your moody teen wants in exchange for cooperating. Whatever works right?
Clean and Tidy: So there’s nothing worse than a family arriving to their shoot with a toddler covered in sticky lollipop goo all over their face, hands and clothes that you took all of that time to pick out for your shoot. Make sure they’ve had a good lunch that day. Give them snacks that clean up easy if they are in between meals and may be getting hungry just before a shoot. If you want to use treats for picture bribery I always suggest fruit snacks. They tend to be less messy and come on who doesn’t love a fruit snack?!
The most important thing is that you scheduled this shoot to celebrate this time of your life. You want to remember tiny hands, your teens last year at home, that inch and a half they grew this year or maybe it’s just that you made it another year. It doesn’t matter what it’s for. What matters is that you are enjoying it. You should be smiling, giggling and even laughing. Enjoy your family time because life changes constantly and it changes in a blink of an eye. Love the time you are in. I promise to do my best to bring that out in all of you but I can’t do it alone. You have to come on the adventure with me.