Yesterday I shared with you some of the proofs from our family photo shoot, and today I’m going to share with you some tips on how to prepare for fabulous family photos! Like most things that require design—a beautiful room, a gorgeous blog, a pleasing graphic, a fantastic party—beautiful things take some planning. Here are some tips on how to prepare before your next family photo session.
Obviously one of the most important decisions you will make is deciding upon a photographer. Look for someone with an artistic eye who is willing to listen to your ideas and knows how to elaborate upon them. Our photographer Leigh is a college student with a new photography business, reasonable rates, and mad photog skills! You do not have to choose an uber expensive photographer in order to receive great photos. If you have young children, choosing someone who relates well to your kiddos and can get them relaxed and smiling is a MUST!
I had seen one of Leigh’s shoots done in a sunflower field and loved the idea; however, the sunflowers were a bit past their prime during our scheduled shoot. So I told Leigh that I wanted a place with white chippy wood and character and she suggested the Star Barn. It was EXACLY what I wanted! Rely on your photographer for location suggestions, ideas, and times to shoot. Outdoor lighting is best during the hours near sunrise and sunset.
Gone are the days of seeing a sea of white shirts and blue jeans. That ship has sailed, so don’t be tempted to put everyone in the same color tops and bottoms. With a little planning, you can have your family looking natural, not in uniforms, and still color coordinated.
To garner color inspiration, pick your color palette using some of the tools I mentioned in this post. If you’re going to be creating a gallery wall, consider the colors of your home. (That’s what I used to choose the colors of our outfits!)
Many photography websites have outfit suggestions using clothes primarily available from Old Navy, Gap, and Piperlime. You can find many of them pinned on Pinterest or by doing a google image search “what to wear photography“.
Before our shoot, I went on Pinterest and started searching family portraits and family photography. I also did a Google search of photography that had taken place at our intended location to see what angles/views looked best. I pinned all of these on Pinterest and shared the board with Leigh before our shoot. Here are a few examples of the inspiration and our interpretations.
Our interpretation: Do you see our reading material choices? I had the boys pick out their favorite book, and so did I ;). I love how much this shot says about our personalities.
Our interpretation: It was Leigh’s suggestion to have the boys cover their eyes while we kiss and this is my all-time favorite picture of the shoot!
Our interpretation: I loved the casual, relaxed, and loving feel to the inspiration photo and was thrilled that Leigh recreated our inspiration. This picture is very “us” and reflects our personalities and family connection beautifully.
Our interpretation: For some reason I gave Leigh a little bit of a hard time over this concept, but I love this photo and know it will look fantastic in the mix of our gallery wall.
After you have your location, color palette, outfits, and poses picked out, it’s time to round up your props! Your photographer might have some props available for you to use, but I think it’s best to discuss beforehand what you will be bringing. Below is a list of some of props that we brought. Not all of them were used, but most were. I brought blankets and other props that went with our clothing and setting.
I even dismantled an old vintage mirror of mine to get an empty frame!
Bonus points if you can figure out what we’re trying to say here. This was my idea and it admittedly looked cuter in my mind than it looks in reality. The boys were getting tired at this point which brings me to my next tip….
Okay, I say “bribe” a bit tongue in cheek here, but it’s very important to keep things fun and motivating when working with little ones. Leigh took about 1000 photos during our hour and a half session. My boys are age 7 and 4 and smiling for a camera is not their idea of a good time. But from our photos you would never guess it!
To get them excited (and hopefully cooperative) for the shoot, I allowed the boys to be part of the process from beginning to end. I showed them the inspiration pictures on Pinterest, had them help me round up props, and allowed them to have some say in what they wore. (I didn’t really want a plaid brigade but they wanted to “look like Daddy”.)
Leigh was great at gauging the boys’ moods and had them do several “silly faces” for the camera. She made the picture-taking process feel like a game and used their interests to her advantage (i.e. doing Kung fu moves, tickling each other, telling each other secrets). Leigh also gave the boys breaks by taking some pictures of Matt and me while they played. I came prepared with snacks and drinks to have mid-way through the shoot, and we also promised them a trip out for ice cream if they were good. Matt would give the code-word “ice cream” as a reminder if either of them became too silly or uncooperative. It worked out great and the boys both had a blast during the session!
In the end, we ended up with pictures that beautifully capture this time in our lives and I couldn’t be happier with them!