famiy photo shoot tips
tips for making the best of a photo session with small children
Before the shoot:
Make sure that your children are fed and well rested. If the session is happening away from home, you may want to bring some food with you and maybe a nice looking picnic blanket, picnics can make for nice natural candids.
Before the shoot think of some of the things you like to do/play with your child/children. What will make them laugh? What will help them have a fun time? Fun and natural interactions make for awesome pictures and everyone enjoys the session a lot more when they're having a good time!
It's a good idea to have some kind of incentive for children (or husbands?) after they've done a great job during the shoot. Don't bring out the prize though till we're done!
Manage your expectations of the session. Be prepared that taking family pictures can be exhausting and stressful, for everyone involved. The best photo shoots are the ones where everyone is playing and genuinely having a good time together. So try to relax! Don't be surprised if you and your child/children are exhausted after the shoot. It is a lot of work! Also don’t be surprised if you find yourself enjoying the photoshoot, the best pictures come during sessions where everyone is relaxed and having a good time together.
Do your best to create a low stress atmosphere before the photoshoot (I realize that it can be really hard to be calm and low stress while preparing a family for pictures!). If you can, plan extra time to get ready so that both kids and parents can be calm and happy at the shoot.
Avoid any large logos or labels. Sometimes a graphic that expresses a person's personality can make for a nice picture, but make sure it's something you can live with for years.
Avoid too many conflicting patterns. A pattern or two thrown into a family shot can be nice, but make sure that they blend so that no one stands out too much. Wear what you think you look good in. Put your kids into clothes that you love to see them in. I've found that moms are very in touch with what colors compliment themselves, their children and their husbands.
It's a good idea to lay out your family's clothes on the bed to see how they all look together.
It's also a good idea to look at other family pictures to see what others have done. This might help you define the look you're going for.
Don't feel like everything has to match. Keep in mind that coordinated clothing makes the images much more formal looking. The more uncoordinated your outfits are the more organic and natural and candid the shots will look. Decide what you're going for and go with it!
It can be helpful to take a picture of yourself in what you plan on wearing to make sure you like the way you look.
Think about where you want to display your family pictures. Do you want to coordinate the colors in the picture with a certain room in your home?
Children's clothing should fit them well....baggy clothing can look sloppy on kids and can interfere with a baby's beautiful face.
Textures, hats, hair accessories, layers and jewelry can all add nice touches to portraits.
Before the shoot put some thought into which set ups and family groupings (i.e.: mom with kids, dad with son, mom and dad alone, kids alone) are most important to you. We'll TRY to shoot things in order of priority (often with young children you just have to go with whatever they're doing....but it's nice for me to have an idea of which groupings are most important to you). Feel free to prompt me during the shoot to move on to a new setting...parents can often be very helpful to ensure we get all the shots we need to.
If you have a good side, a side you think you look better from in pictures (most people do, if they are being honest!) let me know what it is and feel free to prompt me to switch things around so your good side is facing the camera.
Think about what kinds of activities/expressions/things/props/backgrounds you want to include in the shoot. Do you want your baby photographed in a nursery you painted yourself? Do you want to capture your 9 month old clapping her hands or eating her toes? Do you want a picture of your newborn wrapped in a blanket your great grandmother made? Do you want to capture your 2 year old sucking on her blankie, taking out all the Tupperware or thumbing through her favorite book? Do you want to capture your one and a half year old placing little figurines up on the window ledge? Do you want to immortalize that "taggie" through a photo (so you can throw the stinky thing away someday and still remember it?). Do you want to capture your 7 year old curled up in a corner reading a book? Do you want to remember your 4 year old playing dress up? Sometimes the best pictures contain some kind of sentimental material.
During the shoot:
Family photo sessions truly can be a lot of fun. The more fun you are having, the more natural and beautiful the pictures turn out.
I like to take any formal family portraits first (unless a child needs some time to warm up to me). This let's the kids do the hard part (sitting still) first, then run and play while I take more candid shots.
I've noticed that kids really respond to the parent's stress. They often don't want to do things when the parents REALLY want them to. If one of your children isn't cooperating with me, that's ok. I just try to give a lot of attention to the one(s) who are cooperating and usually the others come around.
Hug and kiss your kids during the shoot, hold hands, rub noses. I've found that natural physical affection during a session does two amazing things. First, it calms kids and parents down, it relaxes everyone. Second, it makes for beautiful, love filled images. Sounds cheesy, I know.....but hey, it works.
Some of the best child portraits I've taken have happened while the parents are off doing something else. Depending on the child/children and situation I may ask you to stick around and pull funny faces behind the camera, or I may ask you to make yourself scarce.
While I'm taking pictures of you with your children don't feel like you have to look at the camera the whole time. There's nothing better than capturing the expressions between parents and children. I'll let you know when I need you to look at the camera.
While I'm taking pictures, feel free to make any kind of suggestions. You know your children, you know their natural smiles, you know if their hair is sticking up in a way you hate, you know what will make them happy or laugh. Feel free to stop me anytime to fix something that's bugging you. You also know when you or your children have had enough. Let me know, because I could go on taking pictures of cute kids forever. I love it.
Remember that no matter what the photo session is feeling like, I always come away with some really great shots. Sometimes the best "personality" shots are taken when kids aren't doing what the parents want them to be doing!
Keep in mind that my goal is not to capture one perfect image of your family or your children individually, but rather create a collection of images that show who you are as a family in this moment of time.
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