Tis the season for.... FAMILY PHOTOS! They could be for your holiday cards, presents for family at Christmas, or just because you had a baby and need some updated photos (#guilty). For whatever reason they tend to be a stress-inducing event for some. But they definitely don't have to be! With my working for a photographer, having a photographer husband, and doing family photos every year for about 7 years, I have my own tips on how to make your family photos some you will cherish and want to plaster all over your home!
1. CHOOSE A PHOTOGRAPHER YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH (AND YOU ARE SLIGHTLY OBSESSED WITH THEIR PHOTOS!)
So this seems like a no brainer, but make sure you pick a photographer that you love their portfolio photos AND that you like to be around. You want this photographer to be catching you with a beautiful smile on you face and if you do not feel comfortable around them, that will definitely show up in your body language in the photos!
Also shameless plug in here, if you are in the Vegas area Bethany Paige Photography is phenomenal! She has been doing our photos since we got engaged 7 years ago and I am always blown away by her easy going and professional nature during shoots! Plus her photos are ridiculously beautiful I always have the toughest time picking which ones to hang up in our house lol.
2. DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT TO DO WITH THE PHOTOS
I always try to figure out beforehand where I am wanting the photos in our home (or what kind of card I want for holiday card or whatever the purpose is.) Visualizing this beforehand gives me a better idea of what color scheme I want for our outfits (don't pick bright colored outfits and patterns for outfits if your entire house is all neutrals, etc.) You want the photos you end up with to be cohesive with the plan you have in mind for them, so it's best to plan ahead! This also goes for location choice! Different locations will give very different feels to the photos so make sure the location matches!
3. WEAR SOMETHING COMFORTABLE
I know all us girls want to dress up and look our best in photos, but keep in mind that you being uncomfortable in an outfit will show up in your photos. So pick something you feel confident and comfortable in, and if you have kiddos make sure you do the same for them! For example I personally almost never wear dresses. I have on occasion worn a skirt or dress for my photos, but in those sessions I have always been the most worried about the dress staying down in the wind, or chasing the kiddos around in my dress, and it is just unnecessary stress for the session. So this year I opted for black jeans and a nice top. I felt comfortable and fabulous and wasn't worried about what I was wearing the whole session. I am not saying you can't wear a dress or heels, just make sure it is an outfit that you feel good in. I promise it won't make or break the photos if you decide you want to wear jeans instead ;)
4. PREPARE YOUR KIDS FOR WHAT IS EXPECTED AND PRACTICE SMILES!
So obviously if you have littles under 2, you can't really chat with them about photos, but for older kiddos tell them what is going to happen and how things will run. Kids always respond better when they aren't surprised by what is happening. I try to make sure that my daughter knows that the photographer is going to be giving her directions on where to put her hands, legs, etc and I want her to be respectful and listen to them during the session. It can also be helpful to do some practice runs at home with your phone with giving your kids directions. And going along with this is NATURAL SMILES. So everyone with littles knows half the time when you tell a kid to smile you get that gritted teeth grimace instead of a pretty smile. Have your child practice laughing as this will give them a much more natural smile at the end of their laugh. You can also have them practice saying PRINCESSES or one of their favorite words with excitement so you get a natural excited expression out of them :) Helping them think of happy moments they have had can also help them smile for real.
So I love having some good props for a shoot! You don't need a ton but a cute sign or matching jackets can help make a session fun and give you a diversity of shots without having to change a ton like your whole outfit! I love doing a circle sign with the family last name because it is simple, can go with anything in your home and if you have kiddos it gives them a job (of holding the sign) during the shoot which makes them feel important ;) If you wanna check out my collection of custom goods that make the perfect photo props just click HERE!
If you have kids picking one of their favorite toys (as long as it's not gaudy) can also be helpful and get them to be happy in a pinch ;)
6. BRING A CHANGE OF CLOTHES
Even if you are only planning to do one outfit for your shoot bring some spare clothes in your color scheme. Make sure everyone has at least something they could change into just in case. You never know what might happen in the car on the way there, or even when you get to the shoot (spit-up, mud, rolling around in the dirt, tears in clothing) Also bring a pack of baby wipes if you have kiddos because you know kids find a way to get dirty always!
7. DON'T SET YOUR EXPECTATIONS TOO HIGH
So this one is just for your own personal sanity! We are all guilty of wanting everyone to smile perfect and all the poses to work perfectly and the session to basically look like it would in a movie. I have had plenty of wonderful family photo sessions, but it's life so there is always a kiddo meltdown, or the weather is less than ideal, or you mess up an outfit. So I recommend planning to go with the flow and just making the best with what you have. If you child is crying comfort them how you usually would. Still act playful with everyone: tell jokes, threaten tickle fights, actually partake in tickle fights, play silly games, make silly faces at each other, etc. The photos with your natural reactions are usually your favorite because they are real. The emotions and body language and everything is what happens in real life and having those moments captured are better than any posed smile photo.
8. HAVE FUN
I like to make a day of photos to make it fun! Do hair and make-up together, do your session, then go get ice cream or dinner afterward. Make it about spending the day together to have fun. It's not a task just to get the pretty photos, it's quality time with the people you love.