Choosing a Location and Planning Wardrobe for your Family Session

When I first started my photography journey about a decade ago, I was a little scared of family sessions - they made me nervous. What if the kids won't cooperate? How do I pose everyone together in a way that looks good? Three things eventually changed that for me: learning about forming "triangles" with subjects (thanks, Sue Bryce!), learning how to use prompts to capture genuine connection, and experience. There was a time when my main concern when preparing for a family portrait session was finding the coolest location possible. After awhile, my biggest concern became figuring out how to capture emotions and movement so that all of my photos wouldn't look too posed or stiff. Now, when helping family portrait session clients select a location, I do so based on the overall feel they'd like for their photos, how the light is during the time we will be shooting, and how convenient it is for them to get to. I know that I can create beautiful photos at pretty much any location. That's not to say some locations aren't more ideal than others - you can see how much this particular session's location had to offer - flowers, lush green trees, fields with tall grass that catch the sunlight just so, a tree with twisty exposed roots. I thought it would be the perfect spot to photograph this family (and thanks to my bff for tipping me off to it). The next thing that can really take a family photo session up a notch is good wardrobe. It doesn't have to be "fancy", in fact, if the clothing is too formal it can sometimes lead to a stiff feel. It doesn't have to match, either - actually, please don't buy matching shirts and pants for the whole family. Who actually dresses like that in real life? And if you saw a family walking around Target wearing matching clothes, wouldn't you think it was a bit odd? The wardrobe in this session is a really strong example of how simple clothing can look so good, and how you can achieve a cohesive look without matching. Notice mom's dress is the stand out color, and it has a nice flow to the skirt which is lovely for creating interest with movement. Dad is wearing simple, neutral toned shorts and fitted t-shirt, the baby has on a simple gray jumper, and older brother repeats the neutral of dad's shirt with his shorts but has a secondary color with his denim blue and navy shirt. It doesn't really look like they planned it, yet it totally works. Some of my family session clients already have an idea about what they will wear for their session, but some really need direction. If you are one of those people, I got you. After booking, you will receive a Session Design Questionnaire and using your answers I will create a Pinterest board for you with ideas and links to clothing that you can buy if you'd like - or you can just use it as inspiration. I also have what I call my Client Closet, which is a collection of about 50 dresses (some children's sizes) that you can use at no additional charge. As the holiday season approaches, I know that many families will be thinking about holiday photos and looking for mini sessions. An alternative to stylized holiday themed mini sessions is to schedule a full session for your family - this way, you get the best light of the day and not a 15 minute spot that might be in less than ideal light, you get time to warm up to the camera and get relaxed, natural looking photos, you get the benefit of wardrobe planning and access to the Client Closet, and the location of your choice - plus, you are killing two birds with one stone: updated family photos + gifts for the grandparents! As summer fades and fall approaches, weekend availability becomes more and more limited - so if you need a weekend date for your family session, don't wait! I do have more availability on weekdays, but remember that as the sun sets earlier so does the session start time! So plan ahead, and get your family session on the calendar before all the good dates are gone. PSA from your local friendly family photographer. ;)