Family photos are one activity that many people dread. What's meant to be a fun, family event can quickly become a stress-filled, pull-out-your-hair nightmare. I've been there with my own family and know the frustration that can quickly come. So in an effort to help, I've put together some tips for those of you with a family photo shoot around the corner.
1. You want to pick a spot that fits you and your family's personality. Sure, we the photographer can pick a great spot. But truthfully, you'll have much more fun if you are being photographed in a location that you love and fits your personality.
2. Be yourself. We've all spent time looking on Pinterest, Googling family photo ideas, researched what types of clothes to wear. But the bottom-line way to get photos that turn out beautiful... be yourself. Wear your style. In the words of every great hip hop artist... "Do you!"
3. Make sure everyone is fed ahead of time. If you or your family is like me, crankiness is right around the corner of being hungry. Or at the very least, being hungry means being uncomfortable. So feed your family, not to the point of being comatose like on Thanksgiving, but enough to take the edge off.
4. Plan ahead. Whether that’s making sure your son’s favorite shirt is clean, or that your roots are touched up, or to make sure your location will be open. Plan for that! Have kids try everything on to be sure you have socks and the desired hair style/length. Kids and spouses feel your stress and it's often hard for families to recover from a day of stressed out nagging. That wat you can spend time enjoying yourself and your kids a few hours before your photo shoot.
5. Color themes + color pops. Instead of looking for top to bottom looks for everyone in your family, look in each closet for color themes. By picking a couple neutrals and a couple pop colors you can create a really natural family look without feeling too matchy-matchy.
6. Talk to your kids ahead of time. Kids are smart and they love feeling big and informed. However small they are tell them the morning of your session that they'll get to have fun having photos taken. Show them a photograph of the photographer or discuss a bribe for good behavior. Show them the clothes they will be wearing, involve them in the discussion of what you will be doing and where you will be doing it. As you know, new people and new places can be unsettling to kids, especially to melting down toddlers in the afternoon hours (a common time for family portraits).
7. Give your kids freedom. Let your kids be kids during the photo shoot. Give them time to laugh. To goof off. To have fun. After all, it's a photo shoot, and you will have better photos if you give your kids some freedom to be kids.
8. Pick a time where everyone is happy. You know your family best. Sure, the best time to catch the best light is in the late afternoon early evening. But let's face it, that may not be the time when your little one(s) are the happiest. You definitely won't get the most beautiful photos if you've got a bunch of crabby abby's on location. So choose a time where everyone's gonna be their happiest.
9. Trust the photographer. All too often parents get naggy and nervous that their child isn’t looking at the photographer or smiling “right” causing their child anxiety and robbing the photographer, and themselves, the chance for candid portraits. If you’ve hired a seasoned family photographer (s)he knows how to make your child(ren) feel comfortable so let them work the magic you’re paying them to do.
10. Relax. Relax. And relax some more. One thing is certain, if you're stessed out you'll be tense. And the camera will pick that up. So the best thing to do is to relax. Take deep breaths. Follow the photographer's lead. And know your photo shoot will be beautiful.