Thursday, December 4, 2014

Family Photo Tips

Yesterday I got to guest post  over at Officially Stoked so I thought I'd share with all of you the post I got to share with them.  Here it is.

Today I decided to share some of my tips on preparing for family pictures.  Christmas is almost here and that means we are all rushing to get our Christmas cards out. As an "on the side" photographer, it gets really busy  this time of year and families get stressed so, I hope, this list will help your planning and your photo sessions go a little smoother.

1. Plan ahead! Seriously, nothing makes family pictures more stressful than doing a last minute photo session.

  • Outfits: What colors are you going to wear? I like to stick to the three color rule. Don't have everyone match in the same shirt. Instead, pick three colors and have everyone wear a variation of them.  
    This is my family! We stuck to blues, whites, and pinks. 
  • Location: Do you like indoors or outdoor pictures more? How far are you willing to travel to meet your photographer? What style are you going for? If you are doing an outdoor session, do you want trees and grass and mountains in your picture? Or are you going for more of an urban feel with old buildings and graffiti? 
  • Schedule: When you find a photographer that has the style you're looking for, try to schedule at least a week in advance. It's a busy time of year. Then longer people have to plan around a session the better. The photographer won't feel so rushed and you're pictures with turn out better. 
2. Prepare
  • Let your family know well in advance when and where you're taking pictures, as well as what colors you're planning on wearing. You don't want to be walking out the door and have your teenager put up a fight because they had other plans or because they want to wear their favorite black top when everyone else is wearing browns and yellows. It just stresses people out more to change things last minute. And we want happy, smiling faces, not forced or scowling faces. 
  • Remind your family, over and over. Make sure their plans haven't changed
  • Get in touch with your photographer. Let them know if you have something in particular that you're wanting. Is there a special prop you want to use? Are you looking for family and single pictures? Do you want candid shots or more posed? All these things will change the way your pictures look. Let them know that you want to reenact a certain photo, or that there was this darling photo of a baby on pinterest that you just have to get? Keep in mind that you want to stay with in what the photographer does best. Look at their style and remember that their style says everything about who they are artistically. Respect that. 
3. Your session. Here are several tips to keep your session easy, stress free and quick.
  • If you have young kids, it always helps to have a bribe in place. If they are old enough to bribe them with an ice cream treat if they listen and cooperate during the session, do it. If they aren't quite that old yet, bring little treats for in between poses to help remind them that they are doing a good job and if they keep it up, they get another one. Do not bring messy snacks though. Stick to fruit snacks or pretzels or something like that so you don't have to worry about chocolate faces or sticky fingers or hair. 
  • Relax. Let the photographer do their job. I can't tell you how much easier it is when the parents realize they don't have to do the posing or even make the kids smile. When Mom is calm, the family is calm and everything will work out.  Unless your photographer says "hey mom, it looks like little Johnny isn't warming up to me quite yet. Can you come stand right behind me and make him laugh?" don't do anything except sit close by incase your child needs you. Trust me on this, I worked at Kiddie Kandids for three years and I always had to remind parents to sit in the corner by the posing table because their kid was so overwhelmed with everyone trying to make them smile. Very rarely did I actually ask for help with that. When the parents listened to that advice, the pictures turned out perfect. 
  • Smile. If you're smiling, the picture will look like it was supposed to be that way, even if the kids aren't looking or they are crying, it will look like its supposed to be that way. 
    this is such a great example of this, as well as of a candid photo. The kids didn't want to look and smile so we had Mom hold and talk to the boys. She's smiling and we got this beautiful shot of them interacting. I love it.
  • Be flexible. Be willing to try a different pose, even if it's not what you were thinking. The photographer can see everything that the camera will see. So if you're wanting Dad to hold Sally but the photographer wants her to stand. Be willing to make that adjustment. Maybe Sally's hair was covering Dad's face. 
  • Give kids a break. Sometimes it helps to take a break from the session to let the kids relax a little. And just give them a break in general, some kids just don't smile in pictures. That doesn't mean the pictures look bad. 
    Here is a good example of kids who just don't smile in pictures. I know this because these boys are my nephews. They just don't do the smiling thing in pictures. But, look how great this picture turned out. Their faces are still so sweet and the picture still looks awesome.

4. After your session, what's next?
  • Bring a check or cash to pay unless otherwise told. Most photographers will ask for at least a percentage down at the time of the session. Most also don't have a way to run a credit card on them all the time. Be ready to pay in cash or with a check. 
  • Arrange with the photographer a way to get your pictures. I usually mail a cd of the pictures to my customers but some may require you to pick them up or use email. If they do offer to mail a cd, make use you give them a good address and ask about shipping cost, some may cover it but others will expect you to pay for it. Especially if it's not their first choice in getting the pictures to you.
  • Give it time. It's a busy time of year, give the photographers time to edit what pictures need editing and getting the pictures to you.
  • Spread the word. Did you love the way your pictures turned out? As a photographer I love it when I know someone enjoyed their session because they referred someone or posted them all on Facebook and tag my business page on it. 
You're photographer's are awesome, and you want awesome photos.  Put these tips into play and things will turn out great for your pictures! I promise.

Do you have any favorite photo tips, or even a memorable photo session? Comment below to share with me!

All these pictures are my own, meaning I took them. You shouldn't use pictures that aren't yours without permission. If you want to see more of my pictures go to If you want to read my personal blog, go to

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