So you scheduled a family photography session? Awesome! But now what do you do?!?! (Or if you still need to do that, you can click here to book your session now.)

Well I’m guessing you are excited to have these beautiful pictures hanging around your home, maybe creating keepsake gifts, and of course capturing memories to treasure for all time. But don’t wait until the last minute to think about your upcoming session! A little preparation goes a long way so please read some of my helpful hints below:

  • Research – The first thing I would suggest to do is a little bit of “research” in order to get some inspiration for your own session. Get on Pinterest and make a board for your family photos. Pin photos that catch your eye. Look for outfit ideas and overall vibes you like. If there are particular poses you love, make sure to make a note of them. Feel free to also make a list of specific shots you hope to get out of your session. Think about your location and what you want out of the photos. Do you prefer more of a natural desert landscape or urban feel, in your own home, etc?
  • Clothing – If you think of ONE thing before your session, think about this. Do not wait until the last minute to figure out what everyone is going to wear. And as you begin selecting outfits, one of the most important things to consider is if the outfits fit each person well. Keep in mind clothes that are too tight or too big become very obvious in still-frame photos when you have all the time in the world to stare at them and critique. Make sure you consider shoes for each person as well – they are often overlooked or forgotten about. Before you decide on clothing, look at your Pinterest photos you pinned and try and see if there is an overall feeling to the photos you liked. For example, if you like soft and elegant photos you may want to pick neutral and pastel colored clothing with soft, flowy, or lacy fabric. Or if you liked more bold and spunky photos, you may want to choose clothing that has pops of colors, patterns, or add in fun accessories. I also like to advise my clients to avoid graphic prints on clothing as it is often distracting, and to avoid being completely matchy-matchy. Instead, choose outfits that complement each other – a color scheme of three colors tends to work really well. In the end choose outfits you feel comfortable and confident in, but that work well with one another. This is probably not the time to try a bold new style you’ve never rocked before. At the same time, it is a good opportunity to take a step-up from your everyday look. Remember to iron your clothes the night before if needed, and you may even want to change into them upon arriving to the location of the shoot. This is especially helpful with children – keep them out of their outfit until the last possible moment to avoid spills and stains. Set aside little accessories the night before so they won’t get forgotten (children’s hair bows, mom’s bracelets, etc.) — and don’t forget to think about bra straps and underwear lines as well! Remember, these are still photos, so you will have all the time in the world to stare at the little details that may end up driving you nuts! Wow, thats a lot to think about! Most importantly, try not to stress over it too much, this process can be as a simple or as complicated as you make it!
  • Hair and Makeup – This is a special day and one that you won’t get back – look your best! I often advise mothers to schedule a hair and makeup appointment instead of having to worry about doing it yourself. Often times us moms are so concentrated on what everyone else is wearing for the photoshoot that we don’t leave enough time for ourselves to get ready. By scheduling an appointment for a fresh blowout or curl you not only save some time, but you ensure you’ll be the best possible version of you and a more confident mama goes a long way! So go all out if you can! Also, don’t forget to bring your lipstick or gloss to the shoot so you can reapply as needed. Remind your fellas to take care of their grooming as well, facial hair, etc. My hubby has thick curly hair that drys beautifully all on it’s own, but I always have to remind him to shower early so his hair has time to get dry and fluffy before the shoot starts. Because obviously, we have pictures from a session years ago where my husbands beautiful curls are plastered to his head because he hoped in the shower 5 minutes before we had to leave for the shoot… frustrating lesson learned. Oh, and hair cuts the day before your shoot are usually not a good idea – it takes hair a week or so to look a bit more natural after a fresh cut (especially for people with shorter hair) – get hair cuts done at least a week in advance if you think they will be necessary.
  • Set Yourself Up for Success – Make sure you plan your photo session for a time that works for your family. Schedule your session around your children’s naps and meals so it ensures everyone is well rested and well fed. Don’t show up to your session with empty tummies. Pack snacks (and bribes haha) for the little ones – avoid chocolate and anything that will stain tongues, teeth or clothes. Make a plan ahead of time for the day of the photo shoot so you know how long you need to plan for everyone to get fed, bathed, dressed, and groomed (and then add 30 minutes). If you are going somewhere to get your hair and makeup done, make sure you leave enough time to get home to get everyone ready. You want to show up to the session calm and ready instead of disorganized and rushed. Having a plan will help the session go smoothly from the get go. Remember also to be respectful of time and be on time, if not a little early. Sessions are often back to back with others or scheduled for a specific hour of the day to guarantee the best lighting. The “golden hour” (a period shortly after sunrise or before sunset where the lighting is the best) is not really an hour long – it actually may only last a few minutes, so PLEASE make sure you’re prompt.
  • Let me work my magic – Yes you did your research and have the shots you really want to capture, but let me be the professional and trust in my judgement. Please know that you will be getting suggestions from me on poses and shot ideas. I have a lot of experience getting those picture perfect captures so please be open-minded! I will try my very hardest to get everyone in the family comfortable, and to achieve those natural, beautiful smiles. Allow me interact and talk to your children – you will see I am very comfortable being silly with them, it’s one of my favorite parts of the job. My goal is to capture real, authentic smiles and interactions. Some of the very best photographs I get are when they aren’t looking directly at the camera – it may not be the traditional image you thought of, but I assure you, it will pull at your heart-strings just the same. So if I’m flowing with the kids and letting them lead, I ask that you do too.
  • Have fun! – And lastly, and most important, have FUN and let loose during your session. Show your personality – laugh, toss your children in the air, kiss your hubby, make jokes, snuggle, tickle – let me capture your love and family in its element. I will of course help you and remind you to do these things, but it helps if you go in with the attitude of having fun and being silly from the get-go. Push your shy and nervous feelings aside and just go with it! You won’t be disappointed! And again remember, not everyone needs to be looking at the camera at the same time. Let go of that stress, and enjoy your family!

Thank you for choosing me to capture this special time for you and your family! I cannot wait to make magic with you!

Best,

Courtney