I often get questions from my family clients on how they can prepare for their upcoming session. Here I will go through some steps to help you have the best experience with your session and create photos that you will cherish for a lifetime after your session.
What should we wear for our photo session?
How to pick outfits. This is the most common question I receive and I always have trouble answering it because there is no right answer for every family. What I think is most important is to let your personality shine. If dressing more formally and coordinating is a priority to you, I suggest finding tones that compliment each other and go from there. I plan my outfit first, knowing that my outfit will be the most challenging (because I am the most particular, however, this is changing with teenage daughters!). If you have kids who are of the age where they enjoy dressing themselves, those choices are true expressions of who they are today. My youngest would not leave the house without her plastic pearls and, usually, a tutu as well. She had a passion for accessories. I think those photos tell a better story than the ones where I made her wear tights and shoes that she only wore once. Other quick tips to help you plan – layers, accessories, fun shoes, and laughter all photograph well. For inspiration, check Pinterest!
I’d like to do a longer at-home documentary style session, but need some ideas of what we can do?
Fantastic! These are my favorite sessions! My first suggestion is to leave some of the getting ready for after I get there. The everyday tasks are a really big part of your story. Making breakfast in PJs is a great place to start. I love sleepy heads and plates in the sink. If you feel like you need to be more photo-ready when I arrive… make cookies, play your favorite game, play outside, pack a picnic, walk the dog, play by the river, make a fort, read books, play Legos… anything that you enjoy doing together will make a great story for your family photos. Please let me know what ideas you have and we can come up with a great plan!
What is the best time of day?
The best time of day is the hour when your toddler is awake and happy… if that is not of concern, I suggest the hours just before sunset (6-8 right now in June) or first thing in the morning (before 10 if possible). Unless we are doing photos indoors (best for babies under the age of 1), I try to avoid photos outside if possible. With that said, I do have a couple of locations that have great light mid-day and I can often go a bit later in the morning or start early in the evening when necessary.
What locations do you suggest?
I live in Louisville and spend many hours on the trails running or biking. I have lots of suggestions around town here. I also have some spots that I love to use in Boulder (although Boulder does tend to be crowded and parking/finding space can be a challenge). I am happy to talk through locations with you so we can come up with the plan that works best for your family. If you are feeling adventurous, I love taking families into the mountains and doing a longer session somewhere with the epic Colorado views that we are so fond of here. (travel fees may apply – but so worth it).
How do I prepare my kids?
Feed and water them. Wipe their noses. Clean their faces. Have bribes on hand…. then let the magic happen! I will say a Sweet Cow offer following the session does help things along with little kids. With big kids, take everyone out to dinner or brunch and celebrate that you are all together and showered. When the family session flows into special family time together, everyone has more fun. If your little ones have lovies or special toys that will help them feel comfortable, bring them along for photos. If the teens are not pleased with you for interrupting their sleep, tell them how important this is to you and tell them they will appreciate having these photos someday.
Can I bring my dogs (or 15 chickens)?
Heck yes. I love dogs in family photos, mostly because they add an element of chaos! If you are worried that your dog may not be able to chill if you want photos with just the humans, it might be a good idea to bring a helper to manage your dog so you are not distracted. I have also been known to hold babies or dogs while taking pictures, so that is also a possibility. And do not forget the treats and poop bags!
How do I get my kids to listen and follow directions during our time together and not feel stressed out?
Leave that to me. Do not come to your session stressed and upset with your family if you can at all help it (I’m speaking from my own experience of having my photo taken, as well as being a photographer). Stress doesn’t photograph well and your kids can feel it. If you have an evening session and drink wine, have a glass before you leave. Get there early so you do not feel rushed or anxious about time. I will work hard to get your kids to trust me, and I have a bag of tricks for any age. When I have you in front of my camera love on them and have fun! I throw out so many photos of mom and/or dad working hard to get the kids to smile… but then when it happens, mom and/or dad are looking concerned that it’s never going to happen. As much as possible, try to enjoy the time we have together and trust me to do all the hard work.
What if it’s raining, hot, cold, hailing, too cloudy, too sunny …?
I always do a weather check a few days before. If it looks iffy, we stay in touch. If it’s the day before and it looks bad, we can reschedule. As often as possible I like to wait for the very last minute, because… Colorado! I will say that some of my favorite sessions have taken place just after the craziest June storms! Hang in there with me as much as possible.
What else can I do to make this go well?
Talk to me. Are you concerned about something? Is your kiddo shy? Do you have one that is afraid of dogs and you are worried we might see one on the trail? Are you and your partner in a rough patch? Anything that you feel comfortable sharing with me either in the questionnaire or over the phone before our time together will help me to create photos that are true to who you are as a family. I’m pretty easy to talk to and hope you can feel comfortable sharing any concerns you have.