Have you had your family portraits taken yet this year? I know how crazy it is to get everything ready for the session and then get everyone to cooperate while there. Here are 3 things I’d like to recommend when having your family portraits taken:
1) Find a photographer that fits your style.
Before you select a photographer, take a look at their recent work. Most photographers have blogs that update regularly. You can get a feel for their style by their work. If they show a lot of candids and you want more posed, send an email and ask them their philosophy on posed shots….and vice versa. I recently heard from a former client who moved out of state that her photographer only wanted to do posed shots, and she felt she missed some precious moments of interaction because she wasn’t interested in capturing the candid.
Do research, interview, but really their blogs should give you and idea of their style. Discuss with your photographer what you’d like to see from the session. All posed/smiling….family laughter….walking shot…playful shots….let them know if you have seen some shots that you love, but don’t expect them to get the same exact thing. Also in that research, read the investment page. Photographers are all over the map when it comes to pricing. Just because a “good” photographer in Delaware charges $100 and gives you the disc of everything, doesn’t mean a photographer of similar caliber does that in California.
2) Really PLAN what you wear.
Yes, it can be pain staking, but your hard work will be worth it in the end. Decide if you want your portraits to be casual or dressy, classic or trendy. Think of all the outfits you choose for your family as one big outfit. Mom–start with you (you are the hardest to please anyway, right?). What color and style looks best on you? Pick that and plan everyone else around you. Have dad in a different color. If you have a small baby, who will probably hold the baby the most? Mom? If so, have the baby in a different color as well so you won’t be blended together.
Choose a neutral (denim is also a neutral in this case) and then add a couple of accent colors that will complement each other and use variations of those colors with the family members. Use the 3 color rule – it’s best to limit the bolder colors to 3. Stick with solids, or simple coordinating patterns. Layers (jackets, hats, scarves, jewelry) and texture add richness to the portrait.
Your shoes will likely be in some of the photos, so make sure they compliment your outfit. Match your socks to your pants so they don’t stand out. Another thing to keep in mind is where you plan to hang your portrait art. Will the clothing you’ve chosen complement the colors in the room? (I am in love with the women’s shirt/skirt below).
Lay it out on the floor and look at the clothes as a whole to see what touches of color you may need to add. The easiest is to throw in accessories like a headband or necklace to give a splash of color quick. Also, don’t be afraid to get crafty. The orange dress my baby is wearing above had pink and blue buttons on the straps. I cut them off and put brown on instead, and it was the perfect touch! Think outside of what you are given on the racks at the store.
3) Parents–Just Relax!
Of course you want your children all smiling perfectly, behaving wonderfully for the photographer. But the more stressed you are, the more stresssed your children will be. Let the photographer take the lead on getting them relaxed and looking. Just know that as crazy as your kids may be behaving for the photographer, they’ve likely seen worse. Oh, the stories I could tell! Really, don’t be embarresed that your kids aren’t cooperating, it’s pretty normal. If they want to cuddle on your shoulder, let them!
Take a walk if you need to, but the worst thing you can do is threaten them to smile. A good photographer will talk to them, ask questions to get them to laugh and get that true joy. If you have ideas or songs that you know your child will love, sing them to help bring smiles. I always say that planning to get a special treat after the session is good bribery encouragement. :) If anything, dads often have the hardest time with that natural smile. Sometimes, they also need incentive (or a tickle from the kids) to relax.