Getting ready for your family portraits - Martin Staples

1. Choose your clothing carefully.

Choose your clothing well in advance of the photo shoot. Make sure that your outfit choices are comfortable and attractive. What do your dream family photos look like? If they are soft and elegant? Chose neutral colors with soft, flowing fabrics…. think creams, very soft pastels, oatmeal’s, light browns, tans, grays, and slate blues. Want to showcase the fun and spunky side of your family? Choose coordinating colors with bold accent colors, such as hues of gray with yellow or bright red accents. While pops of color can be good, lots of bright colors should be avoided (red, green and yellow). These can cast a color onto skin and tend to be less flattering in photos. Adding fun accessories like scarves, headbands, hats, etc. can add a modern twist and flair to your images.


2. Get your rest before the shoot.

If you have small children, be sure not to schedule your photo session around your child’s nap or bedtime. The best time for outdoor lighting is the two hours before sunset and after sunrise. If this is a bad time for your children, talk to me. We can shoot any time of day by utilizing areas of open shade or lights that will give your skin a beautiful hue and put a sparkle in your eyes. Also, don’t show up to a photo shoot on an empty stomach. I meet many families who come to a photo session with dinner scheduled at the end. If this is your plan, be sure to give everyone a healthy snack before the photo shoot.


3. Be sure to leave plenty of time to get ready.

Parents are often rushing around before a photo shoot, making sure that their family is dressed and ready. Leave plenty of time for showers, baths, dressing, and grooming. If a family shows up to a family photo session rushed and disorganized, it sets the tone for a rushed and disorganized session. Give yourself extra time so that you are ready before it’s time to head out that door.


4. Cheese is for crackers.

Please, parents… leave the “cheese” at home. Cheese is for crackers. So many times, I have found parents who stand behind the photographer and scream, “Say cheese kids!” Demanding young children to look at the camera to smile will only stress your children out (not to mention the photographer) and will result in strained, unnatural and often unflattering photographs. Step back and allow the photographer to naturally interact and talk with your children. This will result in natural, gorgeous smiles. Help the photographer capture the true essence of your child’s personality by talking with and coaxing out those smiles naturally and easily.


5. Have fun with your family.

Don’t be afraid to pick up your children and toss them in the air. Give your each other a kiss on the check. Tell your spouse how much you love them and appreciate them for being there for your family. Have fun. Laugh. Giggle. Joke. Hug. Kiss. Snuggle. Play. Doing these things will allow the photographer to capture the emotion and true beauty of your family. Leave the stiff “cheese” faces for Aunt Marge at the next family reunion. Show your photographer who you really are, so that they can capture your love through their lens.


6. Bring an activity that you enjoy doing together as a family.

The most successful family sessions have incorporated an activity that the family loves to do together. This gives you something to do with your hands and feet, engages the little ones, and brings an authentic smile to your face. Do you love to read together? Bring some books. Is your favorite dessert ice cream? Bring some ice cream bars or drumsticks to your session or better yet… hire an ice cream truck to come to your session. Love to play board games or cards? Plan to play a round of Uno or Monopoly during your family photo session. Other ideas include: football, piggyback rides, races, bike riding, hiking, singing, picnics, the ideas are endless. When families are engaged in doing something that they love together, the photographer will have the opportunity to take some beautiful and authentic photographs.


7. NOT everyone has to be looking and smiling at the camera at the same time.

The best photographs are often the ones where everyone is engaged or interacting with each other. Understand that not every picture needs to have everyone looking at the camera and smiling at the same time. If you are engaged as a family and loving on each other, your eyes will be on your family members and your smile will be natural. These are the photographs that you will cherish most because they depict your family connection and your love.


8. Help me prepare. 

Your photo ideas and inspirations are welcome.  If you have seen family photos ideas you like on Google, Pinterest or any of the many photo sharing pages share them with me.  Anything that gives me an idea of the type of photos you are looking for will help us work together to get you the photos you want.

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