Let's set the scene: You've booked a family session and are so excited to FINALLY get some good images of you and your family! After all, family sessions are a way to freeze time and capture your life as a family in this season. The day of your shoot rolls around, the weather isn't awesome, your toddler is a whiny mess, the baby is teething and your partner is less than thrilled that you're paying money to go stand in front of a complete stranger and force a smile all while hissing through your teeth at your toddler to just smile! Your photographer gets awkward at all the tension and everything is going downhill quick! All your expectations of the gorgeous golden hour images of you and your family have been dashed. That's where I come in! As a parent I completely understand how hard it can be to get your kids (or your spouse, let's be honest!) to cooperate in front of the camera. I'm not looking for that perfectly posed "everyone look at the camera and say cheese" type of family photo (we will get one like that - grandparents love them!) but instead I focus on your family's unique connection and the authentic interactions between you all.
Over the years of shooting families, I've made mental notes of ways I can best advise families to prepare for their session. I'm so excited to share these with you and hope they may help you if you are unsure of what's in store or how the HECK you're going to get your toddler to not have a meltdown during your session (like I would be!). Here are some things to think about when preparing for your family shoot that will help enhance those authentic interactions and give you the best possible photos. My hope when you book me for a family session that you feel well prepared and confident in what you're walking into.
Lower Your Expectations.
This is my #1 piece of advice for all my families! Lower those expectations of your kids, your partner, the weather, even yourself! Kids will be kids and they don't know me, so they're bound to be shy or act out at first. We often project our most mature, adult selves onto our children when in fact they're going to act out when expectations and tensions are too high. I'm a parent; nothing phases me! No meltdown discourages me because odds are I've had the exact same, if not worse in my home! If there's a period of acting out or a meltdown, don't panic! We'll move on quickly and come back once everyone has calmed down. And remember, if all you're wanting that perfectly posed family photo, you've booked the wrong photographer! As a parent I know how to distract kids and I'm also aiming to capture your family AS YOU ALL ARE not as a perfectly posed, flawless image because let's be honest, no one is like that in real life. So just relax. I promise we'll get you some fantastic images!
Pick your location well.
You're never on your own with this one! I'm here to help every step of the way in your planning. Especially if you're traveling to Northern Ireland! I'm confident in shooting anyone anywhere, but location plays a big part in everyone relaxing and being most cooperative. Sometimes in crowded public places, kids can feel shy and parents can feel awkward. The LAST thing I want is for you to feel awkward. So we'll choose a location together that will bring calm and inspiration to all of us. Thankfully, here in Northern Ireland we're spoiled for choice. We can go anywhere from the sea to the mountains to fields all within an hour. I find being outdoors encourages you to interact with your kids more, affording me the opportunity to shoot you all in your element. If you feel like shooting outdoors or in another location isn't for you and your family, I'd highly recommend an "At Home" session. I'll come and do your session in your home! Can't get more authentic than that. Everyone is usually even more relaxed when they're on their own turf! Sometimes it just helps keep tensions at a minimum.
What to Wear?
This is my all time, most frequently asked question. I always advise my families to pick colors that compliment each other, but stray away from being too "matchy." Go for jewel tones or earth tones. No visible logos or baseball caps. Parents wear something you feel your best in. And of course you'll want to put those babes in cute outfits, but remember to prioritize their comfort above all else! If they're uncomfortable in their clothes, it may show and be an underlying cause of tantrums. If that happens it can be hard to distract them!
Make a Day of it!
My family sessions are often quick and to the point (I know how short kiddo's attention spans!); we're talking 45 minutes to an hour of shooting. So why not make it part of a family day? Going special for dinner after or ending your shoot with ice cream is always a great idea! And while I'm not condoning bribery (I mean, it can help…), it is something for you to bring up before and through the shoot to your kids as something to look forward to! Our goal is for everyone to have fun and be themselves and sometimes the excitement of something fun to come helps everyone.
My hope is that the biggest take away you get from this is to JUST RELAX AND BE YOURSELF! Yep, much easier said than done, especially during meltdowns and tantrums. Remember I'm here to capture the essence of your family's connection, not a perfectly posed family. I want to capture images for you that encapsulate everything your family is. I want to give you images that when you look back on them in 20 years will help you remember the way your little's nose wrinkles when they laugh or the way your baby's hair smells. As a parent I know how fleeting these years are, and how fast they grow. My style of family photography freezes this season of your family's life and captures it forever. If you have more questions about family sessions or want to book in just visit my homepage and get in touch via my contact form here.
To see more of my family sessions, see my complete portfolio here.