WELL AHEAD OF THE SESSION
Make a Plan
You are paying good money for these photos! Plan ahead so you all look your best on the day. Take a hairbrush and touch up makeup with you, as sessions can run up to a couple of hours. When planning we’ll need to take into account the following…
Do you have somewhere special to you? Is there somewhere you have in mind that is particularly beautiful? If your photographer offers either studio or location, really consider the outdoor option. You’ll get more natural photos and the little ones will get less bored as they’ll have space to move around.
That said, sometimes the home environment is good for less confident children as they feel more comfortable there. Just chat through the options with your photographer.
The ideal time to shoot (for light, and therefore the most beautiful images) is early morning or two hours before sunset. However, more important is that you shoot at a time that suits your little one so find a photographer that’s happy to work around their routines. You will know best when they are at their most content and playful.
Communicate with your Photographer
Research their style, look through all their gallery images online and make sure their style matches yours. Don’t be afraid to talk to them in advance and chat through what you hope to get out of the session. Put together a Pinterest board to convey your ideas. A good photographer will appreciate this as it gives them better insight into how best to photograph you.
THE NIGHT BEFORE
Try coordinating your outfits without matching too heavily. Avoid large logos or slogans that may look dated in a few years. Avoid clashing patterns but don’t be afraid to be bold. Steer clear of the traditional matching jeans and white shirts look which can look dated.
Choose the outfits and lay them out next to each other to make sure they don’t clash and work well together rather than against each other.
Have you got a favourite book or chair? Maybe one of your little ones masterpieces from school? Or a wooden wagon that baby sits in? Take it with you! Ask your photographer if they have any props they like to use. Choose things that are in good condition, are aesthetically pleasing and/or photograph well. This especially goes for your children toys as sometimes they hang on to them for dear life and comfort so they often appear in photos. A sopping wet snuggly that’s been sucked to within an inch of its life may be their favourite but it will look a little sad in your gorgeous photos.
Get Them Zzz’s
Make sure everyone gets a good night sleep so you’re fully rested and relaxed for the session.
BEFORE THE PHOTOGRAPHER ARRIVES
Feeding Time at the Zoo
Make sure to feed and water your kids (and yourselves), a short time before the shoot, as they will be much more content and happy to play on a full tummy. Then you can get them cleaned up and dressed, ready to go.
Stay away from bribery as this makes your little ones think it’s something bad that they have to endure. Instead, get them excited about the session, talking about how much fun you’re going to have.
Make sure the grown ups are relaxed about the shoot, or at least convey this to the little ones. If they think your nervous or stressed, they will pick up on this and become unsettled.
Forget the Weather
Living in the UK means we don’t have the luxury of worrying about the weather as it’s so very changeable. And if it rains then just don some brightly coloured wellies, bring a brolly and let’s go splash in the puddles! Embrace it, whatever the weather!
DURING THE SESSION
Ensure you have some ‘non-staining’ snacks to tide them over and keep them content. This often goes for Dad too! Think dry and non chocolately like raisins, fruit buttons or crackers!
You need to work fast with little ones. Talk to them beforehand if they are old enough and explain what you are going to do. Don’t make them feel rushed, they will dig their heels in. I’d rather you take your time and be late with a happy small person than one who’s been put in the car and turns up grumpy.
Little Ones First
Often I’ll photograph the children first so we can get to know each other and you guys don’t have to dive in head first. Often I’ll have mum/dad or both stood over me getting their attention and making silly faces and noises to get them smiling in my direction. This helps to put them at ease straight away. Then when I get you guys involved, I want you to be uber affectionate and interact with the little ones rather than looking in my direction.
The whole point of the session is to capture your family and each individual personality. You most likely won’t look like the family in the department store adverts because they’re not real. Don’t squeeze into those super skinny jeans even if they make you feel great, because if you can’t breathe, you can play with your kids. Wear well fitting clothing that makes you feel confident but that you can also move in. The more comfortable you are the more it will show in the photographs.
Also I will be meeting your children for the first time and whilst I do have a relaxed and friendly personality that enables me to quickly make friends with children, some will just not want to pay ball in the beginning and take some time to warm up so it’s best to have 1-2 hours of time scheduled in for the session. But I would rarely shoot for that long as children get bored.
Don’t stress about how your little ones are behaving during the shoot. There is no ‘perfect’ behaviour, I just want them to be themselves. I capture great images of their multitude of emotions and expressions and this can range from screaming to laughing and from sulky to affectionate. But it’s all your little person so let’s embrace it.
My biggest tip would be to never ask/tell your children to smile. Instead do things to entertain them. I have some activities and games that get natural smiles just through interaction.
Look at the Camera
Make sure you look at the camera! It’s the photographer’s job to get your kids to look at the camera not yours. So try and resist the temptation to point at the camera and say look at this because children will always look in the direction of the most interesting noise.
Or Don’t Look at the Camera
I love the more journalistic style images you can get when photographing families just playing and interacting with each other so if you’re going for that vibe then try to actively avoid looking directly at the camera as there’s a big difference in the feel of the candid, passive images in relation to the more staged family portraits. Decide what suits you best or go for a mix of the two but make sure you’re all on the same page.
Avoid unfortunate positioning especially with children. You don’t want to blow up a photo onto a canvas with your hand on someone’s crotch. Hold your arms away from your body to avoid the squashed and flattened look.
Trust your photographer and try and enjoy it!
AFTER THE SESSION
Consider how you’ll use the photos
Think about where you will display your photos – It’s not about quantity but quality. Do you want a few images for the walls, do you want lots of digitals to share on facebook or a gorgeous photo album to display your gorgeous family. I love mixing and matching detailed shots in between natural and formal posed ones. Knowing what you’d like to use the images for afterwards will help direct the way I photograph you.
Different photographers approach this part of it differently, some invite you in to view them photos with them in their studio and then they up-sell the images. It’s great to see the photos this way but with me you’ll have access to a private gallery to view in your own home and on your own time with zero hard sell.