Spring is here, the days are warmer and afternoons longer, and Mother’s and Father’s Day is just around the corner! This is prime season for sweet family and lifestyle portrait sessions.
Family sessions provide you with unique pieces of art that help immortalize a moment in time, the relationships and the interactions that tell your story. These sessions are always special and fun, but with a little thought and preparation, you can keep everyone relaxed and cool during the process too. After almost ten years of shooting family sessions, here are our top five tips to make your family photo session fun, easy, and looking great:
ONE: What to wear?!
This is the first and obvious question we are asked most often. The more people you have included in your family portrait session, the more folks you have to communicate with. This may sound like a daunting task, and it can be, but considering a few things can help. First of all, everyone in the same color is easy to accomplish, but your satisfaction with the end result depends on location, we believe. A session at the beach, for example, with everyone in white is so classic and really does look nice. But, if everyone is in blue or black (or white, for that matter), all the photos you display will be that one color. Imagine the photo you want framed on the wall–what does it look like? More than likely, it’s the faces and the people that are most striking (not the clothes), so we recommend staggering the colors–coordinating, but not matching.
We recommend choosing colors that are softer; if it’s easier on the eyes, it’s easier on the camera! Bright neons, tight/busy patters, etc. tend to take the attention away from the people. This doesn’t mean you have to choose neutrals all the way, by any means. Just stick with easier, more natural colors and patterns.
Most importantly, choose clothes that you’re comfortable in. If you’re not comfortable wearing so-tall heels or a blazer on a June afternoon, that’s where your mind will be, and not on interacting with your family. Wear clothes that make you feel confident and happy, and guess what? You’ll look confident and happy in your photos.
TWO: Location, location, location!
As photographers, we know several great locations that we can recommend to our clients for pictures, but what is most important to us is to capture the essence and personality of this family. We often let our clients pick or at least give them time to brainstorm first, so they can think about what they want to “say” in the photos with the location they choose. And it doesn’t have to be your standard “photo session” location either–parks and gardens are gorgeous, but lifestyle sessions in the home and in backyards, etc. really tell a story. We’ve taken pictures of plenty of sweet babies getting out of the bathtub and being rocked to sleep. What’s more special than that?!
Speaking of babies, sometimes they have their own schedules. (Am I right?!) Photographers recommend “golden hour” for taking photos, which is the time (usually two hours) before sunset where the sunlight is even and gorgeous and photographs just beautifully. This is the best time of day to shoot, without a doubt. On the other hand, if you have a lot of children in the family pictures that usually go to bed at 7 or 8, then a 6:30/7pm start time won’t work for your family sessions. Often, mornings are best for children, and that light can be just as pretty. We always try to work with the “existing schedule” and keep you in the shade anyway. High noon can be really tough, but it’s our job to get the shot; your job is to stay happy and comfortable!
Getting ready for a photo session can wrack your nerves. (We’ve been on the other side of the camera long enough to know this for ourselves!) Be sure you get plenty of sleep the night before and be well-fed before the session, so you’re fresh and ready to go. If you’re hurried, you’ll have a harder time enjoying your time together, but if you are comfortable and happy, the photos just follow suit. FIVE: Authenticity
Anybody will want good group, posed portraits, especially with a large extended family in the shot. But the photos that really tell your story are the ones that show interaction and emotion. So, it’s ok for some shots (or most!) that not everyone is looking at the camera. That’s where we capture your personalities and catch a pure, genuine moment. A large part of achieving that feeling of authenticity in your pictures is the trust and you comfort level with the photographer you choose. If you want to look and feel, not just your “best,” but your real self too, be sure you hire a photographer you can be real with! The photographer won’t visibly be in the photos with you obviously, but they really help set the tone for the whole session, so whether he or she is awkward or overbearing or warm, confident, and encouraging, their presence will be felt in the photos when you look back at them.
Last year, we shared more about how we do our family and lifestyle portrait sessions. Be sure to check that out here!
If you would like more information on our availability, more how-to’s, or gift suggestions for Mother’s Day (that’s Sunday, May 8!), simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Stephen and CJ