So, you're thinking about booking a family portrait session, or maybe you've booked one already & you were feeling super excited but...
... now the questions, the worries & the doubts start creeping in. Things like:
What if my children misbehave?
Our session is outside what do we do if it rains?
My child is really shy and won't talk to unfamiliar people.
I could go on and on with the worries which run through the minds of parents before a family portrait session, especially us Mums, we are the planners, the organisers & the worriers.
If you've booked your session with a professional photographer, who is experienced with families, they will be more than happy to alleviate your fears. If they don't then no need to worry I've got you covered, breathe, grab yourself a cuppa & find 5 minutes quiet time to read on.
OK have you got that cuppa (or glass if you're going for something stronger)?
Good, put your feet up & let's begin.
Tip Number 1: Plan, Plan, Plan
Get organised, it's what we do best after all.
Check the time of your portrait session & plan your day in advance. How long will it take to get to the location? Plan what time you need to leave the house, allowing plenty of time to get there. Allow for that traffic jam which is inevitable when you're late, that last nappy change your baby always needs as you're walking out the door & the tantrum you just know your toddler will have that morning!
Plan what you will wear in advance & have it all ready to go. Not sure what to wear? Don't worry we'll talk more about this in tip number 3.
If your session is taking place in your home have a think about which rooms you want to use, then plan to work as a team on the morning of your session. Work together with your partner or older children. Have 1 person cleaning up whilst the other takes the younger children out for a few hours. Just make sure everyone is back in time to get ready!
Plan what to do if it rains. You may be happy for rainy shots wearing wellies & waterproofs, but if not check with your photographer on their policy for rainy days. I am always happy to change the location or reschedule for another day, at no extra cost to my clients.
Still with me, fabulous, let's move on to tip 2.
Tip Number 2: What to Wear?
There are several things you can consider when deciding what to wear for your portrait session.
Firstly, the season, your choice of clothes can be determined by the time of year & the weather, especially in the good old UK where we can see all four seasons in one day!
That beautifully floaty dress might make you feel fantastic but would look very odd in a winter session, not to mention you run the risk of developing a serious cold.
Secondly, the location. Are you going to be indoors in a studio setting or in your home?
If it's a studio session then the world's your oyster, you can choose any look you want. If it's going to be a lifestyle session in your home then I would suggest going for a more relaxed look.
Thirdly, matching your home. This may not be something that many people think about when choosing their outfits but I actually think it is one of the most important things to consider.
Think about what you are going to do with all those beautiful family portraits once you have them. If you're going for an album then this doesn't really apply but if you're going for wall art then consider it carefully. This is the number one thing I talk about with my clients. Think about the rooms and walls where you are going to display your portrait art and ask yourself these questions:
What is the room used for and what is the feel of the space? Calm & Relaxing. Vibrant & Lively. Fun or Formal?
What colour schemes do you have in the room? Are there any key accent colours you could incorporate into your outfits?
What tones would work well in the main room you plan on displaying your portraits? Earthy, neutral, bold etc..
Thinking about this in advance will ensure your new wall art really works in harmony with your space, like it was always meant to be there.
Before we move on to tip number 3 there are a few things I would recommend NOT to choose for your session outfit:
Lots of strong patterns. One person wearing a nice pattern, which links with the colours in the other outfits, would be fine, but too many bold patterns in all the outfits would be distracting in your final portraits.
I know your toddler just loves that Peppa Pig T-shirt & your teen barely leaves the house in anything other than ripped jeans & a top plastered with their favourite band or logo, but no! Demand, cajole, bribe, just do whatever it takes to avoid these, trust me, it won't look good above your fireplace.
Finally, unless you're going for a very specific look, avoid matching outfits. Instead choose a key accent colour with several complimentary colours. Have a little of the accent colour in each persons outfit for a stunning, coordinated look
If you feel like you need more support with your wardrobe choices keep a look out for my future blog post 'HELP! What do I wear for my portrait session?' Coming soon to a screen near you. You can sign up to my mailing list to receive it hot off the press.
Tip Number 3: Feed the Hungry Monsters,
I Mean Darlings!
Make sure everyone is well fed before your family portrait session, no matter the time of day, with a good, wholesome meal because if your children are anything like my son (& husband) they need feeding well & regularly. Mine are UNBEARABLE when hungry! I mean seriously don't talk to them, don't even look at them, that's how bad they can be when they're not fed.
I say wholesome meal because (and I say this with love) the last thing you or your photographer want during your session are sugar high monkeys or grumpy Dads.
I would also recommend taking a few healthy, relatively mess free, snacks & drinks with you, just in case of a toddler emergency. I never went anywhere without a fruit pot and mini boxes of raisins when my son was young, I could guarantee a smile as soon as he saw them coming out of my bag.
Tip Number 4: Be Prepared for Everything.
I hate to say it but if it can go wrong it probably will, so the only thing you can do is be prepared. Here is a list of things that you might not think about needing.
Take a change of clothes (or two, or three) for little ones.
Overstock your changing bag. I haven't done a newborn session yet where we used less than four nappies.
Wet Wipes! No matter what the age of your family, even if you are all adults, take a pack with you, in fact I keep some in my kit bag at all times, you just never know when they might come in handy.
We've talked about this already but just so you don't forget - snack & drinks, preferably which are low in sugar & mess free.
A hairbrush & hair clips. If you're at home for your session you will probably have these accessible anyway but if your session is out & about, or at a studio location they will be handy to have. You might need to tidy up stray hairs or tame those unruly locks, we do want to see your beautiful smiling faces after all.
Make up. A little touch up part way through can make you feel fantastic during the whole session, or perhaps a tone down for your teen might be needed! It can also be a good idea to have some translucent powder & a large brush, which can be used on the whole family, to control shine. It can get hot under studio lights.
Tip Number 5: Relax & Enjoy.
I say to my clients that we are not just capturing portraits, we are making memories. In today's hectic lifestyle every moment spent together, as a whole family, is precious, so use your portrait session as an extra special time together.
Let your photographer be in control so you can just have fun & enjoy being together. Mums, please don't worry about the children misbehaving, I can guarantee they will listen more to your photographer than they do to you, sorry but it's true. Take this rare opportunity to relinquish control to a family professional. Dads, relax, tickle, chase, cuddle, be there in that moment. That's why I love doing Family Lifestyle Sessions, I get to see great family connections, genuine smiles & laughter but best of all, I get to witness & capture pure love, it may sound cliche but it truly is a privilege to be a part of such precious moments.
So that's it, we've reach the end. I hope you've enjoyed reading my 5 top tips for your Family Portrait Session & I hope I've managed to answer your questions & alleviate your worries & fears.
I would love to know what you thought about this post, just leave me a comment below.
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