How To Prepare For Your Family Session
by Winnie Bruce | Washington D.C., Baltimore, MD Family Photographer
The weather is finally getting warmer, which means it’s the perfect time to prepare for you family session. During the summer and fall times, families enjoy taking advantage of the warmer weather to get that updated family portrait. As a family photographer, I help my clients out with prepping for their sessions. Here’s a few tips that I guide my clients with, and hopefully you can find useful in planning your own session, whether you’re a photographer, or a family shopping for a photographer.
1. Shop for your photographer.
When hiring a photographer, keep in mind that it isn’t as easy as buying “digital negatives.” Always have a little checklist on what you’re looking to get in terms of products from your photographer. Would you like digital goods only, or would you like a photographer to also help you out with your art work to hang in your home. Ask your photographer how they deliver their products: will it be digital only, a combination of both, or prints only. Does your photographer offer an online store for you to purchase your items, or do they prefer a gallery reveal in person. Most photographers do have a minimum order, so make sure to read through that when shopping for your photographer. Most of us do put it under our investment area. Some work with a flat rate, some are build your package, and others have set packages. Another thing to look for is style. Do you like the way your photographer edits their images? With varying styles, always ensure that your photographer of choice has a style that matches yours, and speaks to you as well. Some photographers specialize in more candid posing, traditional posing, a combination of both, and some do full documentary (un-posed and follows the subject’s queue). Ask them what their techniques are for kids also. Also, make sure that your photographer does specialize in the genre you would like to hire them. Family portraiture is an art form of learning how to pose families within each other, and also knowing how to really work well with children.
2. The time of the year will affect when your photos will be shot if you would like to have that pretty light in your photos.
Often, my clients choose me because they really want the pretty golden light in their images. This is what makes the summer and fall months extremely popular for photos. The only thing with the months of April – November is the sun sets really late. The best time of the day is 2 hours minimum prior to sunset, so prepare for that. The sun usually sets around 8pm-8:30pm in Maryland, so I start my sessions around 7pm for my river and and beach sessions. This way, we have burned the harsh light, and we get that nice glow. Another reason I do this is I want to prevent eyes from squinting. The higher the sun, the harder it will be to play around with light. Luckily, most phones have the weather app so you can check and see what time sunset is. If your photographer works with the golden light, you can plan around bedtime to see if your babes will be able to do a later time of the day for photos.
3. Don’t forget to plan snacks for your session!
I have two boys, and I know how MUCH they enjoy snacking alllll day. This is one of those crucial things I remind my clients to always bring. But also, what kind of snacks matters during session days. Think anything that doesn’t have colors that will bleed (like skittles, or m&ms). But do plan a little surprise or treat for your little ones for after your session. My favorites have been apple sauce pouches, little crackers that they can eat without producing too many crumbs, and fruit snacks. I usually end my sessions with photos of the parents, and during this time, the kids take a little snack break so I can finish off mom and dad photos.
4. Coordinate, don’t match!
When it comes to outfits, I always recommend coordination over matching. Sure, it would be adorable to put your kids in the same outfits, but showcasing their individuality creates more interesting photos. Luckily for us here, we do have an in-staff stylist that helps our clients with putting together outfits. Mary, of Styling with Evie, puts together outfits for our clients to help guide them. Choose 2-3 colors to base your outfits on, and go from there. Also, when shopping for clothes for your kiddos, make sure it’s clothes that fit now, not for later. I know it’s more practical to think that they can wear the outfits again for later, but ill fitting clothing will really show during photos. Another tip is to make sure the colors you choose will compliment your home’s decor. Since most of these images will most likely get displayed in your home, choose colors that will stand out and coordinate also with your decoration.
5. Invest in professional hair and makeup
It might not seem that this is an important part of your photos, but it really does matter! I tell my clients that really good makeup, and hiring a makeup artist that specializes in knowing how to work with natural light really makes the photos. When hiring for your professional makeup artist, make sure you also ask them if they know how to work with makeup for the style of your photographer. I don’t use flash for my family photos, but I do love that golden light. I work with a team that knows exactly how to make sure that the makeup translates right for the camera. Another thing to ask your makeup artist is what is their rescheduling policy. One thing I run into is working with weather. We live in a state that does experience plenty of rainy days, which puts a damper on some days which requires a reschedule. I do use makeup artists that know that there is a possibility of reschedules. Check out Best Face Artist, and Stephanie Barnhouser if you are a local client.
6. Say no to “cheese”
Saying “cheese” seems to be synonymous with photos, but what it actually does is pull the muscles on the side of the mouth which creates that fake smile look. I personally just love talking to kids, asking them about themselves, and cracking up jokes. If you’d like to teach your kiddos a few tricks to prep them for your session, think of more “ah” ending words like grandpa, or quick “ee” ending words like “cookie.” These words create more genuine looking smiles. Or just let kids be silly! That last one is my preferred method to get kids to smile.
7. Don’t worry about looking at the camera all the time!
I promise, we will get great photos! I tend to focus on just a couple of those “traditional” look at the camera poses. After that, I work with getting family interaction more. My main objective during sessions is to get interactions within one another over getting that looking at the camera shot. So don’t be afraid to hug on your kid, give them kisses, run around, and play with them. They honestly make for the best images.
I hope this little list helps you out with planning out your session this year. Also, make sure to connect with your photographer sooner rather than later. Most photographers are really busy around September – November, and if you’d like a weekend, it’s best to get a hold of them right away. Enjoy making memories with your babes!