Updated: Jun 21, 2019
1. Find the right photographer
Finding a photographer that you love is important! Pay attention to their editing style- do their photos look light and airy, dark and moody, or somewhere in between? What do you like?
You'll also want to look at their style of shooting- Are they a portrait/traditional photographer, lifestyle, documentary, or maybe a mix of different styles?
To find out if a photographer is right for you, you'll want to be sure to visit their portfolio, blog, and/or social media handles to view their work.
2. Find a location
So you've found the right photographer for you- YAY! The next step is to figure out a location. Your photographer should be able to recommend locations. I know it might seem convenient to simply post on your local facebook group. While this might help, your photographer is really the person you should be asking for recommendations since they typically already have a list of spots they can recommend. Some photographers also have their go-to spots they can recommend since they've shot there before.
3. Figure out what to wear
Your outfits can change the look of an image, so it is important to take the time to pick out your outfits and to try to follow some of the following tips.
-Outfits have the ability to change the look/feel of your photos. Lighter and neutral colors will result in a light/airy photos whereas darker clothing may lead to photos that are moodier in style.
- I recommend that clients stay away from clothes that have words and distracting characters (like Winnie the pooh, or Spiderman)
- 1 pattern is great but try to stay away from multiple patterns
- Matching with your child might look cute if you're going out to lunch or to the mall, but for family photos I do not recommend matching (e.g., siblings wearing the same pants and same shirt). If you want to put everyone in the color green, make sure it is a different shade of green.
- Not everyone has to be in yellow, or blue, or green. You can use different colors, but make sure they are in the same family- Jewel tones, pastels, muted tones.
-Mom's, find your outfit first (We want you to look and feel beautiful. Your kids and partner will likely look great in whatever you put them in). Or, if you really want to put your child in something specific, start with their outfit and build everyone else outfits from there.
-Stay away from bright colors (e.g. coral, neon) which may lead to a color cast on your skin or other family members skin making it more difficult for your photographer to fix either during the shoot or post-production when editing your photos.
-Pay attention to the colors at the location where you are shooting at. If you're going to be in photos with lots of green trees, you might want to stay away from green.
4. Ideally your child should be well rested and fed
As a mom, I know that getting my daughter to nap and eat by the time our photoshoot starts is like the stars aligning. Do your best, but keep in mind you will want your child to be rested and fed, as they'll likely be happier and more likely to cooperate.
If you know your child gets super cranky when they are tired, try to schedule the session for after their nap or before their bedtime. You might be surprised though, some kids will do well even if they are tired, so try not to worry if they end up not napping the day of your shoot.
5. Cooperation is key
It is so important for everyone to cooperate as much as possible. Of course kids will be kids and we cannot force them to cooperate, but one thing that you can control is yourself and your partner. I know that often the photoshoot is 1 partner's idea, leaving the other partner with no choice but to attend the photoshoot, but these photos are very important to your family- even if you think its a silly idea. These photos will be left as a legacy for your family, so please please do your best and have fun! If you feel awkward, the best thing to do is to think of different ways to have fun with your child & do your best to get them to smile! Your photographer will love you and your partner will love you even more!
6. Leave the cheese at home!
We want your child to genuinely smile for your family photos, so please don't ask your child to say "cheese". Your photographer should have tricks to get your child to smile. Tickles, throwing your child in the air, swinging while walking, piggy back rides, holding your child and tipping them backwards, sitting them on one of your shoulders (for babies), etc. will usually generate some smiles.
Hopefully these tips were helpful! If you think of anything else that might lead to a successful photoshoot leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Marissa is a top family, maternity, & newborn lifestyle and portrait photographer. Her photoshoots take place on-location in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Hawaii. Visit www.marissahb.com to view her work.
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