While scheduling our session for the “best light” of the day is ideal, it’s even more important to not schedule your photo session around your child’s nap or mealtime. Many families come to a photo session with lunch or dinner scheduled at the end. If this is your plan, be sure to give everyone a (non-messy) snack before the photo shoot, or have something ready to go if needed. Hangry kids (ok, and adults!) can be tough for everyone, so we need to be prepared.
Chose what everyone is wearing as far in advance as you can. Last minute decisions lead to stressing more than necessary. The most important part of choosing an outfit for a photo session is to make sure it’s comfortable. If your child hates hats, chances are that hat isn’t going to stay on very long. Try to avoid big patterns (like large florals or chunky stripes) that will distract from your faces. Choosing coordinating colors is awesome, but try not to be too matchy-matchy. Adding accessories like scarves, headbands, etc. can add to the personality of your family photos and I’m all for it. Capes, crowns, etc. are all welcome.
Don’t be afraid to pick up your children and toss them in the air. Give your partner a smooch. Have fun. Laugh, tickle and play. Doing these things will allow me to capture the true beauty of your family. My most successful family sessions usually incorporate an activity that the family enjoys doing together. Do you love to read together? Bring some books. Love to play board games or cards? Plan to play a round of Uno. Other ideas include: soccer, piggy back rides, races, bike riding, singalongs, picnics… the options are endless. When families are engaged in doing something that they love to do together, I have the amazing opportunity to capture authentic photos.
Parents are often rushing around before a photo shoot, making sure that their kids are dressed and ready. I encourage parents to have their hair and makeup done and be completely dressed before you start wrestling with the kids. Please leave plenty of time for showers, dressing, and grooming. When a family shows up to a family photo session rushed, it sets the tone for a rushed photo shoot. Make sure to give yourself that little bit of extra time so that you are ready before it’s time to head out that door. I typically have multiple photo shoots scheduled each day, especially on the weekends, and will need to leave when our scheduled time is over, so if you're late, our time will be shortened, which would stink!
Parents, please cheerfully participate. I know that many parents dread the family photo session, however- it’s so important to capture your family- your entire family. These images will be left as a legacy. Family photos are treasured forever and they are so important. Please, please parents, even if the session is mostly to capture your sweet little, cheerfully participate in at least a few sessions. Once you see your photographs, I promise you will be so glad that you gave this time to your family.
Let’s leave the “cheese” at home. So many times parents want to stand behind me and say, “Say cheese!” Most of the time telling kids to look at the camera to smile will result in strained and unnatural photographs. I work on naturally interacting and talking with your children. What gets those big beautiful smiles? We’ll talk about your family pet, what noises their favorite animal makes, their favorite color. Start thinking about songs they love to sing or other subjects that really get them excited. This will result in gorgeous smiles, I promise.
Considering how unpredictable babies can be, scheduling your session is a bit go with the flow. I typically have parents pick whether they want a weekend or weekday session, then pencil in a date that is 5-7 days after baby’s due date. Of course, if they come early or arrive late, it’s all good- just let me know as soon as you can and we will find another time. As soon as you know that you’d like to do a session with me, reach out so we can get the booking (a 50% deposit and a signed contract) done. It’s not fun to deal with those things when you have a new baby. Newborn sessions are usually done 3-7 days after the baby arrives, but again, we just go with the flow. For a variety of reasons, sometimes “newborn” sessions don’t happen until the baby is a month old- c-sections, NICU stays, a house full of guests, etc. It’s totally OK. While they won’t be as squishy and tiny, we can still do a perfectly wonderful session!
Nothing flatters like natural light, so I try to use it whenever possible. (Plus newborns don’t love flash.) For this reason, sessions are normally done mid-morning to late-afternoon when window lighting is as its best. Of course, if this is when your baby is the most unhappy, we will schedule for a different time. When I get to your home, I’ll walk through to peek around for the best light. Sometimes the best place ends up being in a hallway or even in the kitchen- wherever there is a large window. (Also- side note- if you’re worried because your house is a mess, please don’t stress about that. You have a brand new human in the house. Clutter and chaos is definitely expected! I am an expert at getting just the right angle so that stack of diaper boxes will never be seen by my lens.)
I recommend that you keep your home a bit warmer than normal during the session. (Like a toasty 80 degrees or so. Crank it 20-ish minutes before we are to start.) Newborns are used to being all bundled up and cozy. So when I barge into their new little life and we yank off all their clothes for those adorable naked baby shots, they are sometimes not too happy. Bumping the thermostat usually makes the session easier and it helps them fall asleep faster. We will be sweating, but baby will be nice and warm…and that’s really all that matters! Also, if you have a sound machine you use regularly, that can be helpful to have on as well.
Keep it simple. Throw in a little color if you’d like, but skip the busy patterns. (there’s no need to match everyone in white shirts and jeans. Plus jeans after just having had a baby? No way!) For ladies, I suggest camis and knit tops. Something easy to put on that’s comfortable. For men- long or short sleeved knits are best. Shirts should not have logos or be too busy. Consider ironing/steaming a shirt if it’s wrinkled.
Your bed is usually a great spot to do photos- typically nice light and a soft surface to lay your little one. Plus this is a place you probably spend a lot of time together, and it’s wonderful to document your little family all hanging out here. Honestly, these are some of my very favorite newborn shots. 1. Make the bed, and clear off your nightstands. (pile it all up somewhere in the room, I promise you won’t see it in the photos!) 2. A solid blanket/comforter- something not too busy.
Please loosen your baby’s diaper and clothing at least 30 minutes before the session. This gives diaper marks time to fade. You probably have five million outfits you’d like the baby to wear- I know, they are all so cute! But pick your top 3. Depending on how much the baby hates being changed, we might not get to all of them. So be ready with your favorites and know that costume changes aren’t always in the cards. (but we will give it a good try!) A full baby is a happy, sleepy baby! Please feed and burp them right before our session to ensure a happy milk drunk baby.We will take as many breaks as we need to for feedings and changes. (It’s tough work being a model!)
Sessions can be done any time during the work week, but I find morning to be the easiest and least disruptive time for a session. Clothing and makeup is still fresh. Plus you have less time to be nervous all day!
The location of your portrait is important. It should tell the story you’re looking to tell- do you have a cool office? (then let’s show it off!) Are you community-focused? Maybe we should do it near a local landmark. We can also do a mix of indoor and outdoor, if we plan the session timing right. No idea it too “out there.” It’s worth being creative!
Wear something you love and feel great in. Sometimes something brand new it’s almost best. As far as colors go, black isn’t the only go-to. Experiment with navy, grays, dark greens and teals. If you wear glasses most of the time, wear them for your headshot. We can always do some with and without, if you’d like. If you plan on wearing makeup, apply as you might for an evening out. If you only do one thing- put on mascara and/or eyeliner. It’s amazing what a little mascara and eyeliner does to make your eyes shine. Avoid wearing big stripes, plaids, checks, dots (I know, my favorite!) and other prints- they do not photograph well. Small patterns are fine, as long as they’re not too distracting. If you’re not sure, bring a few clothing options and we can talk about them. Busy ties and flashy jewelry divert attention from your smile- it’s best to stick with simple & elegant accessories and jewelry.