It’s no secret I have an affinity for professional family portraits, and, like most families, the holidays are one of my favourite times to get them. It’s not easy capturing those special family pics, and after doing them many, many times over that last 8 years, here’s 8 tips I swear by to help make your session less stress, and more of a success:
- This may be obvious, but do yourself a favour and go with a photographer who is also a parent. Patience and understanding behind the lens are key to snagging great shots. Parent photogs know children and understand when and why they aren’t always cooperating. It’ll take the pressure off and make you all feel more relaxed.
- As much as possible, book your session around nap schedules and ensure everyone has been fed or take snacks to go. Seriously, a low blood sugar dip in the middle of a photo session is a sure fire way for it to go downhill. Happy kids makes for easier photo capturing.
- Mamas – give yourself oodles of time to get ready and even treat yourself to professional hair styling and make up application. We spend so much time making sure everyone else looks cute, but make sure you make yourself a priority too. Feeling pretty and confident will make you enjoy the session more and reflect in the photos.
- Give yourself loads of time to get everyone ready and get to the session ahead of time. Rushing and being strapped for time will make the entire family more anxious and less than giddy about an already stressful endeavour. If you can, book nothing else before or immediately after your shoot. We had a wonderful jaunt through the tree farm we took last year’s photos at which made the experience more memorable than difficult.
- Think about the style of photo you want and plan outfits accordingly. Are you going for a softer, more elegant look? Choose neutral colours – think creams, oatmeals, light browns, tans, greys and slate blues. Want to capture the fun, spunky side of your family? Add more pops of colour like yellow, bright red, teal or purple. Pops of colour don’t need to be in the clothing, but can also come out in accessories like hats, scarves, mitts and blankets.
- Mixing solids with patters, and layering look best in photos. Avoid dressing every member in your family in plaid, for instance. Have Mom & Dad dress in contrasting neutrals in the background, then dress kids in patterns or layered colours in the foreground. To get a better idea of how to coordinate the entire family without being overly matchy or busy-looking, check out our pinterest board “Family Photography” for some great pins on family fashion coordination.
- It’s not easy to control whether a child will feel a bit anxious or shy during the session. Bring along his/her favourite toy(s) to play with during the shoot, or even incorporate them as props. Doing so will make them feel more relaxed, and therefore, more cooperative. Holiday books, blankets, stuffies, dolls, balls, etc., might work well in your images.
- If there are certain photos and poses you have in mind, create a small list for the photographer and email ahead of time or show it to them at the start of the session. Aim to get those shots done first to avoid disappointment, then I would suggest laying off and letting the photographer capture your family in more natural, candid interaction. Seriously, don’t overdue the pose list. Firstly, it’s very hard to get the entire family to cooperate for posed shots, and ticking off every photo style will make the session more stressful. Some of our favourite family shots are the unplanned, candid snaps. They capture the emotion, allow you to have some fun, and showcase more natural, often more gorgeous smiles. Letting the photographer work freely with your family will allow them to capture the true essence of your dynamic, and each members personality. Toss your babes in the air, give your spouse a smooch, tell jokes, snuggle, play, embrace. This will give your photog an incredible opportunity to capture the love of your family through their lens.
Hope you find these tips useful. Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday photo shoot!