I get it, your family photo session is a big investment. Not only a financial one, but also an emotional one. So much goes into planning your next family session – coordinating schedules, taking time to find outfits, get ourselves ready, get kids out of the door. As moms we might be dealing with kids’ meltdown before leaving the house, begging for kids to put clothes on and sometimes have to bribe our spouses (ha, I said it) to participate. And after putting so much planning and effort into planning the session, we cross our fingers that everything goes smoothly during the session. Family sessions can be stressful for us moms, but they don’t have to be. Make your next session as stress-free and enjoyable as possible with those tips from me, Tampa Lifestyle Family Photographer and Storyteller. It all comes down to preparation, expectations and the mood.
1. Pick the Right Photographer for Your Family.
First, find someone who specializes in families and has personality that works well with little ones. Also, decide what style of session are you aiming for? The main session styles are lifestyle and portraits. Lifestyle (my jam) is a more candid approach to the session, that is focused on documenting connection between family members, telling a family story thought a series of images and letting moments happen organically. Portraits is more formal, pose, smile at the camera look (not my jam. We will get a few all looking images, but majority of my session is storytelling and interactive).
Next, check out the signature look of the photographer. We are artists and generally gravitate towards a certain look and a feel. There are different editing styles such as light and airy, moody, neutral, true to color and something in between. I love the golden look of golden hour on sunny evenings and blue skies on stormy nights. My images are warm and dreamy. If we get full sun, I will play with the sun’s rays, sun flares, golden glow and put an artistic sun play to your images. On overcast days, I edit with gold and blues – in fact those two are my favorite colors. Pick the photographer who's style that resonates with your vision. Your images will be hanging on your walls for years to come, so make sure you like the overall feel and look of their work. As importantly, see if you connect with them as a person – check out their about me page, connect on social media, see who they are as a person. The more connected you feel to your photographer, the more comfortable you will be during the session. I like to jump on a call with my families and get to know them before the session. I do not ask my families to complete a website questionnaire – after all I don’t want your experience to feel like going to the Dr’s office and filling out paperwork – I want to talk to you personally, be it on a zoom call or by text. Also, pay attention to how responsive the photographer is throughout the inquiry and booking process.
2. Pick the Right Setting.
Choose a location that resonates with you and matches your style. If you print photos for your walls – choose locations with color schemes that match your home décor. Also, consider what location speaks to you as a family and you are connected with. Do you and your littles spend summers playing on the beach, splashing in the water, looking for shark teeth and building sand castles? Do you like hiking at nature trails? Do you take your boat out to go fishing and explore new beaches? Are your kids crazy about blueberry picking at a local farm? Is there a coffee or ice cream neighborhood shop you visit on weekends? Or do you love the nostalgia feel of capturing snuggles in your own home? Go for a look and a feel that makes you FEEL. Choose a location that speaks to your family the most and tells your unique story.
Also consider the time of the year. Our outdoor sessions are scheduled at sunrise or sunset. In the winter, sunset can be as early at 5pm while in the summer it can be as late as 8:30pm – consider what works best for your kids schedules and keeps them happy. Some little ones can party until midnight on special occasions while some need the routine of predictable bedtime – you know your kids best.
3. Plan clothing in advance.
One of the first questions family asks after booking a session is what to do for the outfits. It does not have to be stressful – in fact, assembling your wardrobe can be a fun experience (and an opportunity to get something for yourselves). First, choose your location and have clothing compliment it. Doing family session at the beach – long flowy dress will look amazing and add some movement. Or maybe your family is casual – denim vibes make for a great casual, timeless look. Add depth and visual interest with fabrics and layers – choose natural fabrics such as linen, add layers with crochet or knit cardigan, wear a chunky sweater with jeans or lace top with a flowy skirt and boots. Choose color schemes that match your home décor – most likely your images will be hanging on your walls. One can never go wrong with earthy neutrals color pallets – think Ivory, sage, browns, camels, blues, mauve. Decide if you want deeper tones or a lighter feel. I suggest for mom to pick her outfit first – than shop for rest of the family around your outfit. Most importantly, choose a look that best represents your family. For example, one of my twin daughters is a girly girl and loves her dresses. My other daughter is a complete tomboy – there is just no way she will put on a dress and it is not her so I never force it – she wore leggings and a sweater for our family session. Don’t force the look that is not you – your photos are your memories for years to come and should have a look and a feel to them that is true to your family. With kids, it is so important that they feel comfortable in their clothing and are agreeable to the outfits you have chosen in advance.
4. EMOTIONALLY PreparE Your Family
Talk to your kids about the session in advance, get them involved. (And spouse too). Hype them up, tell them you will be having fun and playing together as a family. Don’t put pressure or expectations on your kids before the session, don’t tell them to behave or smile – present it as a natural, fun activity where you all will spend time together. Ask for their input on locations, ask them what games they want to play during the session and take them shopping for their outfits. Kids yearn to feel involved – engage them in the process as much as you can. Engaging your kids after the session is also a great bonding activity - have them select few of their favorite images from your gallery to print for your walls for example. You can also virtually introduce your kids to your photographer before the session, show them photo of the photographer so they know whom they will be meeting.
5. Connect with the People You Love and be Yourselves.
My sessions are all about capturing connection and authentic moments. Connect with your kids through play, chase them, play airplanes, see who gives the tightest bear hug, tickle them. I will use activities as prompts to makes little ones happy and bring out their personalities. If your kiddo is shy that is perfect too – we will capture lots of snuggles and tender moments. Even if your little one is crying – no worries- I will capture them snuggling on your chest while giving them a moment to connect with you and take a moment to feel secure.
Embrace the imperfection – even if you think your kids are not cooperating– experienced photographer knows how to capture moments in between and tell your story best. I see the little details of the moment, no detail is too small. Enjoy the family time, love on each other, and let your photographer work their magic in telling your story. Try to keep yourself relaxed and go with the flow as photos have such power to evoke emotion of that moment. If you feel stressed during your session, that photo will be a reminder of that feeling. Kids are also really good at picking up our emotions and are little sponges absorbing the feel of the mood around them – so keep your cool and embrace the loving connection between your family. If you start getting stressed, remind yourself your WHY - why did you book your family session - to document your authentic story of your family, capture the connection and love between the people you love.
I hope these tips to love your family session for yours to come were helpful. Ready to book your family session or have some questions - I would love to chat. Contact me to tell your authentic family story and preserve the memories for years to come.