As your photographer I want you to be more than pleased with not only your session experience, the resulting pictures you receive, but also with me. I spend hours preparing and researching for each and every session, and so do my clients! I have some of the best clients I could ask for, each one ask me before their session how they can make their portraits come out the way they dream them to be. Whether it's suggestions on location, what to wear, best time of the day, etc. They all want their memories captured as much to perfection as I do. I've complied my list of tips and suggestions to help my clients prepare for their upcoming session!
First thing- determine which is more important, your outfits or the location. If you have a creamy and neutral session in mind- choose your outfits first then we can work on location. If you know it's March and the azaleas are blooming and you want them as your background. Let's pick a location full of azaleas and then work on your outfits.
This brings me to wardrobe! For the most part, exact matching outfits are not the "thing" these days. Which is a blessing for families trying to match outfits for family portraits. Choose outfits that compliment each other, without being exact matches. Neutrals are easy- tan, cream, and white. Limit the colors to no more than three different shades.
Thinking neutrals sound boring?! Incorporate textures, patterns, and accessories. Have two little girls? One could wear a pretty headband that coordinates with the colors while the other wears a scarf that matches. Have a little girl and little boy? Have the boy wear a fun hat and the little girl with a statement necklace. Same goes with just the adults, find a bold statement necklace that matches your hubby's shirt. Even a fun pair of heels can dress up a solid dress for a bold pop! Feel free to message, email, or text me with outfits prior to your session for help coordinating!
Speaking of hats, necklaces, headbands, and shoes, props are always a fun addition to any session! With newborns it's always sweet to incorporate a hat or blanket someone special made. But children and family sessions can have props incorporated as well. Bring that favorite toy for your little one to help them warm up to having their picture taken. Maybe they love to ride their tricycle, bring it to the session. We will start with some pictures of little one riding the tricycle and as they warm up to the camera we can slowly remove the tricycle from the scene. It's a great way to help those who are shy or may not enjoy having their picture taken. Same goes for adults, is dad not excited about family picture day? Bring bubbles for him to blow with the children. Or maybe a ball he can play catch with his son. Not only do props help those warm up to having their picture taken, it takes their mind off looking at the camera and saying "cheese"...which results in more genuine smiles!
Speaking of "cheese", having children say "cheese" will only result in cheesy pictures. Don't stress over trying to coach the children to say cheese before their portrait sessions, let them be children. My favorite pictures are those that capture the children being themselves. If we can't get a smile, we will work our hardest to get a natural smile. Dad can toss the child into the air, we can have a race, or maybe a tickle monster can come visit. I've got tricks, let's try those before we issue a "cheese" fest!
Speaking of coaching the kiddos, don't do it. As hard as it will be to not have that "pep talk" on the way to the session, try not to. Please know that as your photographer, I do not expect a "perfect child" at any session, ever! No matter if they are 10 days old, 3 years old, or 10 years old. They are children, I have two of my own, and I have worked with several, some that i can promise you behaved worse than yours will! I love what I do for many reasons, and the biggest one is the kiddos. I love learning about each of their personalities, I love meeting each of them and getting to know their likes and dislikes. I LOVE when they are children and misbehave. Believe it or not, the challenge is intriguing to me. So please just relax, let them be children, and enjoy yourself. If little Jimmy wants to stand with his arms folded and his back towards the camera, great! I can play peek-a-boo with him, sneak up on him, or I will hand him the camera and let him take the picture! Coaching them only intensifies the stress, and children can feel our stress as adults!
Speaking of stress, mommas use the family pictures as an excuse to have your hair and makeup done. If a professional isn't in the budget, here's a few quick tips: a little bolder blush, eye liner and mascara pop in the camera, and bright lipstick bring color to your face while helping your teeth appear more white.
The time you choose to have your session is so important for several different reasons. Decide if you want fall, spring or summer pictures. Regardless of the season try to schedule either early morning or late afternoon. I recommend 9:00 am sessions for toddlers and newborns. Usually they are well rested, just had breakfast and pretty happy. For teenagers or adults, I recommend late afternoon or sunset pictures. There is a beautiful golden glow just before sunset that cast beautiful lighting on your skin and makes the entire image just glow! Of course, every person and child is different. If you know your baby takes a nap at 9:00 AM, let's try to schedule an afternoon session.
Be yourself, this is so important. Have your family try their best to relax and be who you are. Mom, if dad looks miserable, give him a sweet kiss on his cheek during the session. Spontaneous, unplanned kisses can be just what cures his nerves or frustrations. Dad, does mom look stressed to the max? Wrap her up in your arms and hug that woman! How about the kiddos, are they not wanting to corporate no matter what you or the photographer do? Play the whisper game, tell them you have a HUGE secret and they cannot tell anyone. Then have them tell you a huge secret! The secret game usually reveals a few grins and giggles!
Last tip, have fun!! These pictures are to capture family memories, let's make those memories fun and happy!! It's ok if we don't get all smiles, or have some shots with half the family not looking at the camera. The pictures will turn out gorgeous and you will remember having fun with your family during the session!
That's a wrap, my quick ten tips for a successful session. Hopefully this will help you as you prepare for your upcoming session!
Did I leave anything you? Have any more questions? Shoot me an email, Renee@ReneeDawkinsPhotography.com I would love to answer any questions you may have!!