After 9 years and 1,000 sessions photographed, I’ve found some parallels between the sessions that were a huge success! Here are my best 10 pieces of advice for you:
1) Trust your photographer and they will reward you with amazing images.
You have done your homework and hired a professional, so trust that their advice is beneficial. There are no sweeter words to a photographer than “I trust you — do what you think is best!” If we think you believe in us, we will go (even more) above and beyond to exceed your expectations.
On the day of the session, it’s normal to be nervous (it means you care!). But just know that you’ve planned and prepared to the best of your ability, and now your photographer is here to take the reigns and create family portraits that you’ll love. For a couple of hours, you don’t have to be the one to make all the decisions…enjoy it while you can! 🙂
2) Don’t try to squeeze too many things in.
Nothing spoils a child’s good mood faster than too many clothing changes, too many locations, and too many props. I know it’s tempting to try to recreate every gorgeous image you’ve ever seen, but the best images will happen spontaneously as a result of your unique family relationships. When we’re not working off of a checklist, we’ll have more time to create organic images that you’ll love. Try to limit your top priorities to 1 or 2 things (ex: a family photo and a sibling photo).
3) Wear comfy shoes for outdoor photos.
Especially for families with older kids, we’re going to be on our feet constantly — running, jumping, tackling, you name it! Take your shoes for a test run to avoid painful blisters when you need your feet the most. And if you have your heart set on a pair of adorable heels, wear your walking shoes and then switch them out quickly when needed.
4) Use Pinterest sparingly.
While I love Pinterest as much as any other creative person, I think it’s best to limit its use to inspiration. Rather than listing all the dreamy and complicated poses you’ve found, try to observe what the photos you love have in common. Are you drawn to pictures with balloons? Aim for a really colorful session. Do you love that vintage-looking image of a mom holding her baby in a field? Ask for simple, classic images. An overall style goal is more helpful (and less limiting to your photographer) than specific poses and ideas. And really, our end goal is to capture YOUR family — not the idealized version of someone else’s.
5) Do your homework so you can relax on the day of your session.
Be sure to carefully read the tips your photographer sends you — we have seen our fair share of pitfalls and mishaps, and we’re here to help you avoid them!
When possible, start planning at least two weeks ahead of time so that you can find another outfit or location if needed.
It’s also worth visiting your location before the big day so that your kids know what to expect and aren’t intimidated by the new surroundings.
6) Leave early.
On the day of the session, leave an hour earlier than you think you need to, especially if this is your first time having professional portraits taken. There’s always hair to brush, shoes to find, shirts to iron, etc. Nothing creates more stress than trying to fit an hour’s worth of photos into 15 minutes. The light changes very quickly right before sunset, and even five minutes can make a big difference.
7) Pack a reward.
While every family has different parenting styles and I respect that, I am all for using bribes for one day. 😉 Nothing makes a kid sit still longer than a (lollipop, beloved toy, insert your fave here!). However, be sure not to mention said treat until we’re close to the end of the session. Revealing a toy and then taking it back can be a recipe for disaster.
8) Kids will be kids — just roll with it!
All professional family photographers have seen their fair share of meltdowns, and we work through them every time! Instead of stressing out because you’re missing “the perfect shot,” let your kid take the lead for awhile. Kids (and even babies) pick up on their parents’ stress levels, so laugh it off and know that happier moments are soon to come. And sometimes, that temper tantrum ends up turning into a hilarious image that you’ll cherish for years to come!
9) Consider the weather.
Nothing will hinder family photos faster than a freezing baby or an overheated toddler. Dress in layers if possible so that you can add and subtract if needed. It’s always helpful to have hand warmers and/or a portable fan, depending on the season.
10) Focus on the love.
It may sound cliché, but after all, your love for your family is probably the reason you wanted family photos in the first place! In the end, it’s not about what clothes you wore, or what location you chose, or how much you weighed. It’s about capturing what life is like right now. It’s about snuggling, tickling, and playing. It’s about showing your children how much you love them so that they have these memories 20 years down the road.