Tips to Prepare for your Family Photo Session |
Lifestyle Family Photography in Las Vegas
Hi! I am so excited to meet you and your family! My aim for your photos is a look that is timeless and natural, that focuses on emotions and the relationships within your family. While we will take a few traditional portraits with everyone looking at the camera, I mostly want to capture your family in your natural element - interacting and enjoying each other's company. I want to preserve this moment in time for you, so that when you look back at these photos years from now (possibly with your grandchildren or great-grandchildren!), it'll take you right back to this day, to this season with your kids and how you and your family are now.
Here are some tips to guide you in preparing for your photo session with me!
Time & location
Together, we will pick a location that best suits your family's style and personality. Maybe you want somewhere with greenery in the background, or maybe somewhere that features the area's natural desert landscape. Or maybe you want an urban look to your pictures? Or maybe you'll choose your favorite place - home? Things that might influence your location choice are mobility levels in your group (e.g. if there's anyone that can't walk for long periods/far distances), temperatures (hello summer in home sessions and AC!) and age (e.g. if there's a toddler that runs a lot, you might not want to do a downtown location with all of the streets and cars). Think about what you would like to hang on the walls in your home (e.g. natural, desert photoshoot vs. colorful downtown shoot). Once I know the general type of location you are interested in, I can definitely help you narrow it down. :)
For outdoor sessions, we will schedule your shoot for 1-2 hours before sunset, depending on our location. This time of day provides the best light to illuminate skin and hair, and creates that kind of magical, golden atmosphere in photos. For at home sessions, usually mid-morning will bring in the most light from your windows.
We will start the session on time to maximize this beautiful light. So please take traffic and parking time into consideration.
What to wear
Remember, the most important thing is that you feel comfortable, confident and beautiful in what you wear. Just look like your best you! Below are some tips and ideas that work to create that timeless look in photos. Implement only as you see fit!
Colors, patterns, textures & movement
Choose colors that complement your hair and skin, while also considering the season and the location. You can pull colors from the location, but you don't want to blend in or clash with the colors there. Consider
neutral colors (e.g. grey, cream, brown, oatmeal, tan, ivory)
softer, lighter tones (e.g. soft pinks, blue, purple, yellow and other pastel colors, especially for spring and summer) and
muted/subdued shades (e.g. burnt orange, emerald green, maroon, navy and other jewel tones, particularly for fall and winter).
Have 3-4 main colors in your family's palette and maybe one person in a pattern that is not too distracting, if you'd like (think floral, polka dots, plaid, etc.). Break up colors visually, so top colors are not all the same among the family and bottom colors are not all the same. It is best also if no two people are wearing tops of the same or close shade of the same color, especially the parents or any other couples.
A LITTLE TIP: If you would like to play around with color combinations, check out this color wheel on Canva. Start with a color that you like inside the big circle. Refine to a specific shade with the outer circle. Then, look at these color combinations with the drop down menu: complementary, monochromatic and analogous. Have fun!
Here's something to keep in mind: In general, a lighter color palette will lead to a lighter and brighter gallery. Conversely, a darker color palette will lead to a comparatively darker gallery.
ANOTHER TIP: For extra style, consider adding a warm pop of color if the rest of the palette is full of neutrals (e.g. yellow, burnt orange)!
Texture adds interest to photos, so feel free to incorporate them (think lace, satin, chiffon, silk, tulle, pleats, corduroy, ruffles, faux leather, linen, crochet, wool, sequins, a long line of buttons on a dress or jumper).
When you can, choose a few clothing pieces that add movement in photos. A sense of movement brings a photo to life, and adds interesting detail and even a bit of romance. It really can give a photo that extra bit of oomph. I'm talking about flowy fabrics in dresses, kimonos or dusters that swish when you walk, or twirl when your little one spins. Fringe, ribbon and tassel details can also create movement.
Family outfits should fit together, but not match exactly (i.e. don't all wear the same top or bottom). I do recommend matching the level of formal across the family. Once you have your family's outfits ready, lay them out on a bed to see how you like them together and determine if any changes need to be made. Feel free to send me a picture via email if you are feeling unsure.
A LITTLE TIP: If you are a little stuck thinking of family outfits, start with an outfit that makes Mom feel gorgeous and beautiful, and build everyone else's outfit off of that. :)
ANOTHER TIP: You can also start with a pattern that you love and pull 3-4 colors from it for everyone else's outfits. :)
For the ladies
Dresses or skirts are the most flattering, especially long, flowy ones (better for crouching down pictures with little ones). Clothes that flatter your silhouette (e.g. defines your waist). 3/4 length sleeves. A nice jacket, blazer or cardigan, if you would like, especially if it's going to be chilly. Heels, cute sandals and nice boots photograph well.
A LITTLE TIP: Bring flats or other comfortable shoes for travel between shoot locations! :)
A note about undergarments: make them invisible. Be sure that they don't show their outline or texture either under or around clothing, consider strapless options if there is a chance that straps will show, and it is best if the color blends in with your outfit (e.g. the same color or dark for a dark outfit, light for a light outfit). Sometimes they can peek out around outfits, especially when you're interacting with moving children, and I don't want this to potentially detract from a photo.
For maternity photos
We want to celebrate your baby and your belly! The key idea here is to pick an outfit that flatters your beautiful silhouette. Dresses are always a great choice, especially when they are long, fitted/tight across the chest and have a flowy skirt that starts flaring out just above the belly. When the skirt is long and flowy, it gives mom something to hold and also creates pretty movement in the photos. Floor length dresses look elegant, while slightly shorter dresses can show off stylish shoes. Be careful not to pick a really long dress that you might trip on. If the weather is warm, off-the-shoulder dresses can look really pretty and if the weather is cool, you might consider a long sleeved dress or bringing a cardigan for layering.
For colors, avoid black, navy and other dark colors that will make your belly hard to see.
For the men
Match the level of formality of the family's outfits. Collared, fitted, button-up shirts with or without a light sweater on top, fitted suit/sport jacket or blazer. For a more casual outfit, simple crewneck tops or henley shirts. Fitted slacks, chinos or pants. Closed-toe, non-athletic shoes.
A LITTLE TIP: Avoid keeping your phone in your pocket during the shoot, as it is distracting in photos. Also, try to avoid wearing pants with wallet or phone outlines worn in.
For the kids
Dresses/jumpsuits for the girls (check out Joyfolie!), or a nice top with pretty details and fitted pants. Cardigans when it gets cooler. Another cute outfit for little girls or toddlers is a suspender skirt over a top. Cute shoes or boots would add to her outfit!
For the boys, button up shirts, crewneck tops or henley shirts with fitted pants of the proper length and closed-toe shoes. Linen or corduroy overalls can be a really cute option, too.
A LITTLE TIP: Consider style, but also prioritize comfort! If your children feel uncomfortable because they think their outfit is too stiff or that the fabric is scratchy, their expressions will most likely show it.
For babies, it's mostly the same as above. I love the look of linen rompers during the summer. Try to avoid tops with loose collars because these tend to ride up when babies are being held and can hide their face or neck. Consider baby bloomers to cover diapers if wearing a dress/skirt.
For outdoor photoshoots during the summer months, choose outfits that will help you stay cooler and sweat less. Certain materials are more breathable, like cotton, bamboo and linen. For ladies, consider outfits or dresses with off-the-shoulder or sleeveless tops, or wider, looser sleeves. For men, consider shirts in these colors: black, charcoal, white, navy blue and pale pink. Undershirts can help as well with sweat marks, as will antiperspirant.
Regarding oil/shine on the face, consider applying powder or using oil-absorbing sheets. If you're not wearing makeup, you might consider washing your face or using a baby wipe before the photoshoot.
During the colder months, layers are the secret to staying warm in style! Think undershirts and long undies. Think big, cozy knit sweaters, cardigans and scarves (yay, added texture!). For kids, thick tights under any skirts/dresses. Beanies or toques can be cute if anybody would like a hat. Another idea is to bring a complementary colored blanket to cuddle in during the photos!
Remember to bring jackets, gloves, scarves, blankets, etc. to put on between photos (e.g. when I'm doing photos with 2/5 of the family), and bring warm drinks in travel mugs to help stay warm. Consider bringing hand warmers, too. Please keep tissues handy and an eye out for runny noses. We'll keep things moving though and we'll have fun!
For the boys and men, consider belts, watches, ties, bow ties, pocket squares, tie clips, suspenders, matching socks in a fun pattern.
For the girls and ladies, consider bracelets, rings, earrings, statement necklaces, floral crowns, pretty headbands or hair bows, ribbons in the hair, favorite rings, a stylish scarf. Hats can be cute for some pictures, but be mindful of how it might affect your hair when taken off.
What to avoid
I want your photos to be timeless, and I want the main focus of your photos to be your faces, expressions and relationships. Here are some things that can work against those goals and that are best to avoid...
Trendy/fad clothing (will look dated in a few years). Any outfits that make you feel self-conscious, uncomfortable or that don't fit properly. Neon/florescent/bold colours (these colors can reflect back onto your skin and face or onto others). Words, logos or graphics of any size. Sport watches (e.g. Fitbit). Hair ties on wrists. Pinstripes. Overly revealing tops or too short bottoms. Skinny shoulder straps. Baggy or skin-tight clothing. Turtlenecks (hides the neck). Cargo shorts or pants. Flip flops. Running shoes. Chipped nail polish or dirty nails. Pet hair on clothes. Worn items with tears, stains or a lot of lint. Phones or masks showing in pockets.
If you would like to view some examples for family sessions, I created a Pinterest board here. For maternity outfit inspiration, I created a Pinterest board here! Feel free to do your own searches on the site to look for ideas!
Hair & makeup
Treat yourself and use a professional if you can, but it's definitely not required! Hair that looks like it can move when you move look great and natural. Common hairstyles include leaving your hair down, loosely curled, half up half down and a loose, side braid. Be aware of flyaways - flexible hold hairspray can help. For girls, the same styles look great, plus pig tails and double buns on top can look cute for little ones. Avoid headbands if they are too young to readjust it themselves.
Use makeup to add some color (20% darker than normal), concealer as needed, and powder to help prevent shine (oil-absorbing sheets are great to have on hand). Bring makeup for touch-ups. For timeless photos, the goal is fresh and natural. False lashes photograph well. Painted nails (toes, too, if you're wearing sandals!) and French manicures add the perfect detail.
A fresh haircut for the males looks best. On hot days, before the shoot, you can use a baby wipe, oil-absorbing sheet or wash your face to take away any oil/shininess.
To get the most out of our time together, please try to ensure that your children are rested before the session (think nap and/or down time, plus a low key rest of the day). It is best though if they don't fall asleep during the car ride to avoid potential crankiness or tiredness from being woken. Please try to ensure that they are not hungry during the session. Packed, dry, non-messy snacks and wipes are always a good idea to have on hand, just in case! Remember to bring extra diapers for babies and a pacifier, if typically used. Please bring an extra outfit, as well, if your children are under 3 years old. Please keep an eye out and use tissues for any runny noses.
Let your kids know that a friend will be photographing them and make it exciting for them! Consider a reward (e.g. small, wrapped prize) or a fun plan for after to add to the memories of the day (e.g. ice cream or special dinner). If possible, avoid lollipops, unless you're okay with them potentially being in the pictures.
Do not worry if your kids are not sitting still and smiling perfectly for the camera. Let them be little! :) I intend for my photos to have a relaxed, natural feel to them because I know that kids like to talk, act silly, be loud, jump, run, play and explore. These actually make for some of the best pictures because they capture kids being themselves.
My best advice is that even when or if they do anything a little naughty, just act like it's the cutest thing EVER! Go with the flow and roll with it! Smile and laugh with them! Sometimes these little moments are when they have the best smiles and laughs, so I really don't want to toss these photos because of anyone's annoyed, stressed or upset expressions. In these moments, if parents are instead looking at their children with awe, amusement and love, that's when we strike photography gold. :) Of course, if needed, think redirection instead of discipline during the photoshoot.
For the family shots, I will guide you into comfortable, natural "poses" where you will focus on each other and just be in the moment together.
Show your family & partner affection
Here are some ideas... Caress your child's cheek. Rub their arm or back. Give them a kiss on the top of their head or their face. Hug them so tight until they giggle and laugh. Touch and play with their hair. Touch forehead to forehead, or cheek to cheek. Really just watch and be present with the family that you so adore. Hold their hand. Hold them. Link arms. Put your arms around their shoulders. Snuggle. Cuddle close. Embrace. Literally breathe them in. Show me how you show them that you love them. Same goes for your partner!
Though I'll be there to encourage you, when you do these things on your own, it's more natural, meaningful and special. All of these touches and the physical closeness shows connection and fills the frames with love. :)
What to bring
Water (with ice during the summer), tissues, small mirror, makeup for touch-ups, oil-absorbing sheets, hairbrush and comfortable shoes for travel between locations.
For your children, packed, dry, non-messy snacks and wipes. Diapers for babies and pacifier, if needed. Spare outfits for children under age 3.
PROPS: Optional, but a blanket with complementary colors to your outfits for sitting and lying down poses. You can bring another item to add some of your personality to your shoot. Ideas include a guitar/ukulele if you play, complementary bouquet of flowers, a light colored teepee tent, balloons, or an antique or peacock chair.
If you have a reluctant teen, partner or spouse
Make sure that he or she will be rested and fed.
Show him or her my Instagram or website, so that he or she can see that I aim to capture relaxed, fun pictures.
Tell him or her that this will be a time for you and your family to just be together and take a break from the go-go-go timeline of most other days.
Let him or her know that the best thing to do is to just have a light-hearted attitude, enjoy their family, go with the flow and let ME do the work.
But if he/she likes a challenge, challenge him/her to prepare some jokes or funny stories to make you and your kiddos laugh!
Also, remind him or her how much these photos will mean to you and how appreciative you are that he or she is willing to be such a good sport for one hour!
Prepare outfits ahead of time to reduce stress and ensure proper sizing. Get ready 30-60 minutes earlier than you think you should.
Make sure that everyone gets a good night's sleep!
During the shoot, show lots and lots of affection to each other.
Remove any temporary tattoos, felt marker and stamps from children.
Ensure that everyone's shoes look clean, including the bottom.
Take one last look in a mirror just before the shoot. Check your teeth for food and spit out gum. Straighten any necklaces, collars or headbands. Remove oil/shine with an oil-absorbing sheet. Address any flyaways in your hair.
Make sure your mask, wallet and phone don't show in any pockets during the shoot.
Moisturize hands and apply lip balm in the days leading up to the session. Dry skin is no joke in the desert(!), so this will help with photos. I recommend Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Lotion.
Iron out wrinkles in your outfits, as needed, and remove any loose strings and pet hair.
I can't wait to work with you to create beautiful keepsakes of and for your family! I want this to be an easy-going session for you, so just bring a lighthearted attitude and plan to have fun! 🙂 Please feel free to contact me with any questions related to your session. Take care and see you soon!