Tips to Prepare for Your Family Portrait Session
TIME AND LOCATION
Together, we will pick a location that best suits your family's style and personality. Maybe you want somewhere with greenery in the background, or maybe somewhere that features the area's natural desert landscape. Or maybe you want an urban look to your pictures? Or maybe you'll choose your favorite place - home?
For outdoor sessions, we will schedule your shoot for 1-1.5 hours before sunset. This time of day provides the best light to illuminate skin and hair, and creates that kind of magical, golden atmosphere in photos. For at home sessions, mid-morning will bring in the most light from your windows.
We will start the session on time to maximize this beautiful light. So please take traffic and parking time into consideration.
WHAT TO WEAR
Remember, the most important thing is that you feel comfortable, confident and beautiful in what you wear. Just look like your best you! Below are some tips and ideas that work to create that timeless look in photos. Implement only as you see fit!
COLORS, PATTERNS AND PALETTES
Neutral colors (grey, cream, brown, white) and/or softer, lighter tones and muted/subdued shades (e.g. soft pinks or yellows, muted blues like navy).
Have at least 3 colors in your palette and maybe one or person in a pattern that is not too distracting, if you'd like (think floral, polka dots or plaid). Break up colors visually, so top colors are not all the same and bottom colors are not all the same. It is best also if no two people are wearing tops of the same or close shade of the same color.
Textures add interest to photos, so feel free to incorporate them (think lace, satin, chiffon, silk, tulle, faux leather, crochet, wool, sequins).
Family outfits should fit together, but not match exactly (i.e. don't all wear the same top or bottom). I do recommend matching the level of formal across the family.
A LITTLE TIP: If you are a little stuck thinking of family outfits, start with an outfit that makes Mom feel gorgeous and beautiful, and build everyone else's outfit off of that. :)
FOR THE LADIES
Dresses or skirts are the most flattering, especially long, flowy ones (better for crouching down pictures with little ones). Clothes that flatter your silhouette (e.g. defines your waist). 3/4 length sleeves. A nice jacket, blazer or cardigan, if you would like. Heels, cute sandals and nice boots photograph well.
A LITTLE TIP: Bring flats or other comfortable shoes for travel between shoot locations! :)
A note about undergarments: be sure that they don't show their outline either under or around clothing, and it is best if the color blends in with your outfit (e.g. dark for a dark outfit, light for a light outfit). Sometimes they can peek out around outfits, especially when you're interacting with moving children, and I don't want this to potentially detract from a photo.
FOR THE MEN
Collared, fitted, button-up shirts with or without a fitted suit/sport jacket or blazer. Consider vests. Fitted slacks, chinos or pants. Closed-toe dress shoes.
A LITTLE TIP: Avoid keeping your phone in your pocket during the shoot, as it is distracting in photos. Also, try to avoid wearing pants with wallet or phone outlines worn in.
FOR THE KIDS
Dresses for the girls, or a nice top with details and fitted pants. Cute shoes would add to her outfit! For the boys, button up shirts or henleys with fitted pants of the proper length and closed-toe shoes.
For the boys and men, consider belts, watches, ties, bow ties, pocket squares, tie clips, suspenders, matching socks in a fun pattern.
For the girls and ladies, consider bracelets, rings, earrings, statement necklaces, floral crowns, pretty headbands or hair bows, ribbons in the hair, favorite rings, a scarf.
WHAT TO AVOID
I want your photos to be timeless, and I want the main focus of your photos to be your faces, expressions and relationships. Here are some things that can work against those goals and that are best to avoid...
Trendy/fad clothing. Neon/florescent or very bright or bold colours. Logos or graphics. Pinstripes. T-shirts. Revealing tops. Skinny shoulder straps or strapless tops/dresses. Baggy or skin-tight clothing. Shorts. Flip flops. Running shoes.
If you would like to view some examples, I created a Pinterest board here. Feel free to do your own searches on the site to look for inspiration!
HAIR & MAKEUP
Treat yourself and use a professional if you can, but it's definitely not required! Hair that looks like it can move when you move look great and natural. Be aware of flyaways - flexible hold hairspray can help.
Use a light hand with makeup to add a bit of color, and use powder to help prevent shine. Bring makeup for touch-ups. The goal is fresh and natural. Eye lash extensions photograph well. Painted nails add the perfect detail.
A fresh haircut for the males looks best.
To get the most out of our time together, please try to ensure that your children are rested before the session (think nap or down time) and not hungry during the session. Packed, dry, non-messy snacks and wipes are always a good idea to have on hand, just in case! Remember to bring extra diapers for babies and a pacifier, if typically used. Please bring an extra outfit, as well, if your children are under 3 years old.
Let your kids know that a friend will be photographing them and make it exciting for them! Consider a reward or a fun plan for after.
Do not worry if your kids are not sitting still and smiling perfectly for the camera. Let them be little! :) I intend for my photos to have a relaxed, natural feel to them because I know that kids like to talk, act silly, be loud, jump, run, play and explore. These actually make for some of the best pictures because they capture kids being themselves.
For the family shots, I will guide you into comfortable, natural "poses" where you will focus on each other and just be in the moment together.
WHAT TO BRING
Water, tissues, makeup for touch-ups, and comfortable shoes for travel between locations.
For your children, packed, dry, non-messy snacks and wipes. Diapers for babies and pacifier, if needed. Spare outfits for children under age 3.
PROPS: Optional, but a blanket with complementary colors to your outfits for sitting and lying down poses. You can bring another item to add some of your personality to your shoot. Ideas include a complementary bouquet of flowers, a light colored teepee tent, balloons, or an antique chair.
IF YOU HAVE A RELUCTANT PARTNER OR SPOUSE
Make sure that he or she will be rested and fed.
Show him or her my Instagram or website, so that he or she can see that I aim to capture relaxed, fun pictures.
Tell him or her that this will be a time for you and your family to just be together and take a break from the go-go-go timeline of most other days.
Let him or her know that the best thing to do is to just have a light-hearted attitude, enjoy their family, go with the flow and let ME do the work.
But if he/she likes a challenge, challenge him/her to prepare some jokes to make you and your kiddos laugh!
Also, remind him or her how much these photos will mean to you and how appreciative you are that he or she is willing to be such a good sport for one hour!
Make sure that everyone gets a good night's sleep!
Remove any temporary tattoos and stamps from children.
Ensure that everyone's shoes look clean.
Moisturize hands and apply lip balm in the days leading up to the session. Dry skin is no joke in the desert(!), so this will help with photos. I recommend Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Lotion.
Iron out wrinkles in your outfits, as needed, and remove any loose strings.