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Photography & Company

How to Prepare for Family Photos – The FAQs

As a Los Angeles photographer, who specializes in photographing families, couples and children, I understand the nerves, doubts, and frustrations Moms may have when it comes to gathering and preparing their family for professional photos.  When hiring a family photographer, it is important to hire one who specializes in your idea photography, has ample resources to help you prepare for a fun photography experience and beautiful work. Good rapport is very crucial when choosing a family photographer. You want your family photographer to feel like a new, old friend.

I have listed frequently asked questions I get from my Moms and families to help ensure you have the best family photography experience you’ve ever had. Say goodbye to stiff studio photography and hello to adventure, fun, and real life moments to be cherished through the priceless gift of fine art photography. 

What can I do to increase my odds of loving my photos? 

First, make sure you feel confident in what you are wearing (we’ll expand on that next). It’s also important to consider that your memory is intrinsically linked to your photos. If you recall feeling stressed or rushed, you won’t be enthralled with your images. Therefore, make it your goal to have fun. Photos shouldn’t be a high pressure situation! Arriving early will help calm you down, and most importantly, trading your expectations for appreciation. I live by this and it helps me so much to accept the things I can’t control.

What should I wear? What looks good/bad on camera?

The top question I field from clients wondering how to prepare for family photos is wardrobe. My top tip? Avoid being overly matchy. Today it’s all about coordinating like the sweet family above.

Instead, craft a palette. Choose a few colors you love, then plan the outfits around that color story. For instance, the above family utilized blue, pink and white. Baby of the family, Jordan looks so darn adorable in these shades!

A mix of prints and solids is ideal, but be cognizant of the scale of your prints. Anything too large or busy will detract from the overall image. Additionally, logos and graphics are a no-no. The focus should be on you and your family’s emotional connection, not the clothing.

Avoid being overly matchy

Craft a palette of 3-4 colors

Mix prints and solids (but avoid busy/large prints)

Start with mom’s outfit

Aim for timeless, not trendy

Whose outfit should I start with? 

I recommend ladies or mothers choose their outfit first. Let’s be honest, Moms care the most about how they look in the photo. Moms treasure family photos and tend to be the most critical of themselves. Mom, it’s ok to have this photoshoot be about YOU! You work so hard keeping the family unit running and always putting others needs before yourself. You’re the planner, stylist and everything else, its ok to have the spotlight on YOU! In fact I secretly make all my sessions about the Women. Why? Because you deserve it! We are the most beautiful species on this planet and we deserve to feel beautiful and highlighted for all that we do.

Focus on timeless pieces. Do you want your photos to look dated 10 years from now? No way! Therefore, stay away from super trendy items. Only wear things you feel great in and that flatter you. Sometimes it helps to get an outside opinion. For some reason, it’s harder to objectively critique our outfits in a mirror than in a photo. So, let a friend or myself help you out! I am the go-to Personal Stylist for all of my Mommies and it’s one of my favorite jobs.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is wearing something sleeveless. No matter how fit you are, this is a hard look to pull off! If it’s a hot day, try a dress with a cap sleeve or ruffle instead. It is much more forgiving.

How do I get my kids to behave? 

It’s all about keeping the atmosphere fun and light. Don’t speak harshly or reprimand your children during the session. It won’t help. I practice enforcing positive behaviors during my sessions and it’s amazing how well this actually works for children (even those with the smallest attention spans). When parents yell at their kids or threaten, it ruins the moment, the tears start flowing, and you’ll have to stop taking photos so everyone can regroup. Instead, be silly! Play games during your session, make faces, or give your little one a tickle. An experienced family photographer, like myself, will help guide you through this process with lots of laughs and sweet tender moments. Trust me! I GOT THIS!

It’s important to talk to your kids about the session ahead of time. “Hype it up as a really special event and explain how excited you are to give these photos to grandma or to hang on your wall.

Incentives work too! Tell your child you will go for ice cream afterward, or offer another activity they love as a reward. Bring treats, like fruit snacks. I always have a bag in my pocket, and it saves sessions!

Little ones aren’t incentivized by something in the future, but the promise of immediate reward (e.g. 1 fruit snack) might be all they need to sit in place for a little longer.

I don’t recommend chocolate — due to the obvious mess-factor — or suckers. Children get upset when you have to put them aside.

How do I choose a photographer/communicate my vision? 

As in most situations, communication and openness is key. Here are a few of the most important things to consider before selecting your lifetime photographer…

Do you have a preference on the location?

Is there a specific goal? (e.g. 3 large canvases on your living room wall)

What is that photographer’s style? (traditional, posed/looking a the camera, candid/or a mix of both)

Price? Ask what is included in the session, are albums and prints available for purchase, and what is an additional fee.

It can be really disappointing if you were thinking about traditional poses and your photographer didn’t get any shots of your family all looking at the camera. Upfront communication is key to set this expectation. I make sure to get traditional looking at the camera photos right at the beginning, when I’ve got everyone’s attention and participation. The rest of the session focuses on candids, real life interaction and the love and fun you have together as a family. These moments include picking flowers, playing with sand, playing games, singing songs, dancing,  spotting birds and bugs, etc.

You can get a good feel for a photographer’s work by browsing their online gallery or Instagram feedEvery artist colors with a different paintbrush! Photography is an art form. Each photographer will approach your goals differently. Take your time and find someone you click and connect with.

Do you have things you are little insecure about or are there special needs with your family? Tell your photographer! Most photographers, like myself are accustomed to catering to unique needs. For instance, if one of your children has sensory issues or autism, let us know. We can ensure the session is comfortable for everyone!

Pro tip: Most photographers have a presence on Instagram. Browse their gallery to get a sense of their vision. If you don’t love it, don’t book them!

Do I need to come with ideas or should I let them (the artist) direct the session?

Have a great idea? Your thoughts are always welcome, especially before the session. No photographer can claim to accommodate everything, but… if you discuss your vision in advance, there is a strong chance your photographer can make it happen!

If you feel we would be a good fit for one another and you’re up for making me your lifetime photographer friend, I’d love to speak with you! You can book a free photography consultation with me by scheduling a call with me here.

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Brittney Jean Photography