Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to have our family photos taken by some pretty awesome photographers. Here are some of the most important things I’ve had to learn over the years…as a photographer, a client, and a mom! (Image credits in no particular order: Terri Collins, Elaina Borchelt, Emily Lam Angehr, Melissa Stottmann, Desiree Jones Hoelzle, some random person at a party, and my trusty tripod)
- You DON’T Need to Lose Weight First
Friends, you DON’T need to lose weight before your next photo shoot. I have been a lot of different sizes in our family photos over the years, and I am so grateful that my kids will have memories of ME in the photos as they were growing up! A great photographer will be able to pose you and engage with you in such a way that the first thing you’ll see in your photos is your own amazing smile. Sure, you might notice the extra rolls a few seconds later; we ALL have our little body hang ups. But a really great photographer should make your insecurities feel secondary to the joy you feel when you see your photos.
- You DO Need to Whiten Your Teeth
As a photographer, editing darkened or yellow teeth just about sucks the life out of me. Brightening up your smile is so affordable these days. Take care of your teeth. Brush, floss, and maybe even invest in some Crest White Strips or something. We ARE going to smile and laugh during your session, so make sure your best feature (YOUR SMILE) is camera ready!
- Do Your Hair (Or Get it Done Professionally)
Like a great smile, good hair cannot be faked. Consider getting a professional blow-out before your session…or at the very least please make sure your hair is dry, styled, and soft to the touch. You don’t want to look uptight in every photo because you’re too worried about the wind blowing the wrong direction or that your kids hugged you too tightly and messed up your perfect ‘do. A great stylist will help you create a style that is both gorgeous and touchable. As for fresh cuts, I always try to schedule our hair cuts a few weeks before our family photos to make sure I have time to grow out or hide any accidental weirdness. Don’t tempt fate by scheduling a hair cut the day before our session…that almost never ends well!
- Moisturize That Skin!
Start about a week before our session and focus on your knees, elbows, cheeks, chin, and nose. This goes for both kids AND adults! Especially if your child is teething, drooling, or has recently had a cold, moisturizing around the affected areas a few nights ahead of time can make such a huge difference. I’m no doctor, but I’ve also found that a little Neosporin can help to lessen the appearance of acne scars or fresh boo boos.
- Bring Extra Clothes and Warm Layers
Listen. As a mom myself, I know that kids get messy. They poop. They pee. They drool. They wipe their snot everywhere. They spill stuff. And Murphy’s Law says that they’re going to do ALL of those things in your car on the way to your photo shoot. Always bring extra clothes. Always.
Also, as the weather starts to get chillier (September through March), please remember to grab a blanket, coat, hat and mittens for your little ones. Trust me when I say that blue hands and lips are REALLY hard to edit.
- Choose a Photographer Whose Style You Love
Pay attention to the photos your photographer shares on their website and social media. If you prefer photos that are super polished and perfectly coordinated, go with the photographer who shows that style. If you prefer photos that are a little messy and full of fun, choose that photographer. If you want really artsy photos with dramatic light, choose the photographer who shows that in their portfolio. Photographers are artists, and most of us specialize in a specific style. Don’t assume that anyone with a camera can read your mind and magically deliver all the images you’ve seen on Pinterest.
- Don’t Rush Around Too Much On Photo Shoot Day
I get it, weekends can be hectic. But please remember to leave some wiggle room in your schedule to unwind before our session. Moms, dads, and kids can ALL get grumpy when the day has been too busy, and you don’t want that to show in your photos. Just for this one day, treat yourself to some quality down time before we meet up. Leave enough time in your schedule that you can leisurely drive to our meetup spot AND still be early. Have a snack, drink some water, maybe even grab a quick nap before your hair appointment. Don’t try to squeeze in our session between Tommy’s soccer practice and Suzy’s birthday party.
- Be Prepared to Print Your Photos Right Away
Otherwise I promise you they will hide in a folder on your desktop until your baby is ready to graduate. (Case in point, I STILL need to print this gorgeous photo of me with my littlest, and he just started kindergarten a few weeks ago!) As a busy parent, I know that life doesn’t magically slow down. Let your photographer help you make the decisions about how to print your photos right away, so you can see your babies’ beautiful smiling faces on your walls every day!
- Hire Someone Who Gets Your Kids
I’ve worked with photographers who didn’t get my kids, and the whole process kind of sucked. My kids can be weird, they can be super chatty, they can be uncooperative, they have meltdowns over dumb stuff…and if my photographer doesn’t keep them engaged and having fun, it’s not only going to show on their faces, but it’s also going to show on MY face that I’m stressed out and annoyed. I’m super picky about who I let work with my kids, and you should be too! Book a photographer that you trust will understand how to work with your kids. Read their Google reviews, see if they have some behind-the-scenes videos of them working with other kids, see if their portfolio looks like the people are genuinely having fun, read their About page on their website and see if they have other experience working with kids, ask if you can schedule a quick chat on the phone so you can feel out their personality. In my experience, happy kids = happy parents = happy photos.
- Communication is Key
Photographers are good at a lot of things, but we are not mind readers. If you notice something in the background is going to bug you, ask if you can move it. If you were really hoping for a specific pose or type of image, speak up and let your photographer know about it. If dad’s a little self-conscious about his bald spot, mention that you’d prefer not to have any photos taken from above. If you know you’re going to throw out your back if you have to sit on the ground, let your photographer know about it before she asks you to sit on the ground! I once did an entire session for what I thought was an “uncooperative” baby, and then at the end the parents casually mentioned that the baby was actually deaf! That would have been REALLY helpful to know before I wasted my time clapping and making silly noises the whole time! Please…help us help you.
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