I am asked all the time by prospective clients and returning clients
ALL THE TIME:
“What should we wear?”
Very valid and great question.
(I’ll cover that in another post)
But the one piece of advice I wish I could give ALL of my clients, past, present, and future is this:
Prepare your children and spouses for the photos mentally and emotionally.
Let me tell you a little story:
Being a foster parent has changed how I look at so many things. I love these 3 children with all of my heart and it PAINS me that a big chunk of their life is “missing”. For my 5 year old “Diva Princess”, I know that there are 4 years of her life that I don’t know. I don’t know what she looked liked as a baby. I don’t know what kind of toddler she was. Little things like what her hair looked like as a baby is completely lost to me. Did she smile all the time as a chubby baby? Was she even a chubby baby or was she long and skinny like her baby brother? Her younger brother “Little Man” was so covered in eczema from his horrid food allergies…when did they start? Was he always covered in scars? When did he first break out with it? Has he had it since birth?
I have no idea because there is no photo evidence of their life prior to coming to live with me.
And for some reason, that breaks my heart.
These 3 children KNOW how important their pictures are to me. I have told them. I sat the 2 older ones down with me and explained it to them.
“I want everyone on this planet to see you and know just how wonderful and beautiful you are!”
1.) Explain to your children (and spouse) just how important these photos are to you.
Chances are, this will help your session go smoother. This also gives you a great opportunity to praise your child and/or spouse. And everyone could use more praising and encouragement and love!
2.) Let your family help pick out clothes. Do it together as a family.
I have 6 children. And each of those 6 children have their OWN opinion on clothes! When you prepare your spouse and children for your family session, it’s important that they know what to expect. Here is a photo of fashion ideas for a family session. I LOVE it! I love the style, love the color palette. All of it!
Show your family a photo of what you are wanting style-wise (TONS on pinterest!), and allow them to help pick out clothes in that color scheme. Giving your highly opinionated child a choice of 3 outfits (or even just 2) will help tremendously, instead of giving them run of the store to pick what they want. You pick it first, then give them a choice from what YOU have already picked out. This will also help your less-than-stylish family as well. This is a safe place….we can all admit we all those family members that couldn’t put an outfit together if their life depended on it. HA!
3.) Be prepared.
Lay out the outfits the day before. The week before. Whatever it takes to make the day of portraits LESS stressful! Put all outfits together in one location (safely away from sticky fingers and drinks that spill). Include things like socks and shoes, hair bows, ties, etc. Keep them together in one place so the day of the session you are not scrambling around hunting and searching. It doesn’t work. Trust me.
4.) Don’t argue before a session.
I know….trust me….preparing your children for a session can be stressful! Preparing your spouse can be just as stressful. How many times before a session have you said:
“You aren’t wearing that!” or “Where are your SHOES?”
But, by following the above rules, it will take a lot of that last-minute stress away.
And, because I have 6 children, I know how children are. If Johnny wants to bring his favorite toy to the session, GREAT! Let him. I’ll probably photograph him with it anyway. Your teenage son wants to bring his headphones, that’s fine. There’s always downtime during a session while I am photographing something else.
Just try your VERY hardest not to argue BEFORE the session.
5.) Don’t argue DURING a session.
You would think right? But trust me, I know. You have such high expectations for your session and you have invested all of this money into these photos, the LAST thing you want is a child to misbehave!
But, that’s where I come in. I was a teacher for many years prior to becoming a photographer, so I know children really well. I also happen to work with teenagers at church and have been a Youth counselor at church camp for MANY years! So, I know teenagers as well. I have a few tricks in my Super-duper Photographer tool belt. I know how to approach children and teenagers to help them relax and calm themselves. I know questions to ask to redirect their attention. I know how to make them smile.
Berating a child (or a SPOUSE) during the session counteracts all of my Super Photographer Powers. You do not need to yell at them (happened), whisper harsh things in their ears (happened and happened), or poke them (happened, happened and happened).
If a child is extremely unruly, and all of my Super Photographer Powers have failed, then yes, please step in. But please remember, if they are crying, I cannot photograph that.
6.) Praise them!
Praise anything and everything you can!
“WOW! Look how TALL you are sitting!” “Your smile is so beautiful!” “You are still the handsomest man I know…” “You only get more beautiful.”
We all need that praise, but especially during portraits. It can be awkward to have your portraits taken, but a kind word does wonders!
7.) HAVE FUN!
I cannot stress that enough. It doesn’t matter what goes wrong, let it roll off.
Enjoy the time you are spending together and have fun.
Let the child play.
Let your spouse tell those terrible jokes. (I promise I’ll laugh)
Let your teenager text during the down time.
Let them dance and have a good time. I promise I’ll photograph it if you promise to hang at least ONE silly photo on your wall to always remind you that it was FUN.
Childhood is short. It’s fleeting.
Let them remember the FUN things.