Family photos can feel like a daunting task. First, there is finding a photographer and booking a session, then choosing outfits, preparing the family before the session, getting past the jitters, then PANIC wondering if your child is going to behave (or if they will even smile at all.) But I have a secret. It doesn't have to feel this way.
1) The Kids:
Try this: When talking to your kids about your upcoming session, talk about it with the same enthusiasm as you would if you were going to a theme park! As parents, we tend to want to "prepare" our kids for things they may not be interested in. We speak to them as though they are preparing for a round of vaccines at the doctor... just something we have to be brave to get through, then it's over.
The reality is: kids feed off of your energy! They tend to feel what ever you lead them to feel. So what should you say to your kids to prepare them?
I always begin with (something along the lines of) "Hey! So, Saturday, we are going to hang out with a new friend! This friend is going to meet us at the park to have a little fun taking photos of us while we laugh, play, throw leaves!! " Then just leave it at that. If I want to add little reminders through the week, I always make positive remarks about how excited I am, and how much fun they're going to have.
If your children are too young to understand what's about to happen, use your energy to show them how you want them to feel. Smile at them. Use gentle words, and allow them to take a bit of the lead. This OFTEN leads to incredible interaction photos you will treasure forever. The key word is FUN.
Which brings me to my next point...
2) Choosing a Photographer:
This can feel like a serious task all on its own. Frankly, there is NOTHING wrong with interviewing your photographer to make sure they are right for YOU and YOUR family. There are many family photographers in the greater Springfield MO area. Too many to count. Just remember that it is ABSOLUTELY FINE to make sure your photographer is right for you and your family.
My personal experience with my own kids (pictured above) and the countless families I've worked with is this: Kids like to have FUN! They love to run, jump, and PLAY! I work a lot of play in to my sessions. "everyone tickle Bobby! Everyone look at who laughs the loudest! Hey, Sue! See how high you can throw those leaves!!" It really makes the session fun and full of energy. And don't worry... we always get photos where everyone is looking at the camera too. Usually those happen later in the session when the kids are already having fun. Most people have the same worry with their kids: They are afraid they won't listen, and that most of the photos will be useless. But in truth, most kids are ready to have a good time, and that's what I offer. A REALLY good time.
Outfits are part of the fun when you are planning your family photo session. It can also be a stressful part of preparation... but it doesn't have to be.
The most important part of coming up with your outfits is to first decide on a color palette. Some look to Pinterest to discover various color options, depending on the season.
Next, it is important to note: Cohesiveness is not the same thing as "matching." Matching can be cute with siblings and/or twins, but the best approach is to find a color combo that fits the season and your family aesthetic. For example, using navy blue and mustard yellow tones, or burgundy and yellow in the fall season. Find ways to incorporate those colors in to everyone's outfits. Maybe Suzie has on yellow leggings and a burgundy/white floral shirt while mom is wearing a burgundy shirt with a yellow cardigan. Coordinating is key. Matching went out with the 80s... and I'm not sorry. You can always ask your photographer what they think of your outfit colors and selections just to get a second opinion!
Avoid "tiny" or "busy" patterns. In photos, busy patterns create distortion It doesn't translate well on digital, and doesn't print the best. Keep patterns wide and simple if you are planning to use them.
4) Interact and Be Playful
This is absolutely the best advice I can give you for a successful family photo session. Between setups, and the photographer asking you to "look here," feel free to interact with one another. Face snuggles, hugs, kisses, laughing, holding hands... nothing is off limits, just let your love shine. The photographer will tell you if you need to make adjustments, or face the camera. This does a number of things. It keeps the kids engaged, it keeps the spouse engaged, it keeps your photos feeling light and carefree... the list goes on.
Also, let the kids PLAY! Often, the best shots are the ones where the kid is caught in a moment being a kid. As a photographer, if I need the parents to change what the kid is doing, I will let them know! Most of the time, I like to try to capture images of the kid being a kid. Those are the memories you cherish down the road.
5) ABS-- Always Be Smiling
Along with being playful with your family during the session, remember not to stress. Stress can cause fussiness, and the more you fuss, the more worried you look. Symptoms include: your face looking droopy or sad, eyebrow facing down, corners of your mouth facing down, mouth being open unintentionally. If your 2 year old has a little trip and fall, smile. If your 3 year old starts running toward the photographer, smile. If your 5 year old says something sassy... laugh and smile. Remember that these images are going to be viewed by your family, friends, and even descendants... you don't want to look back on the experience and remember that it was stressful. Remember that laughter is the best medicine. Even if things aren't going how you pictured (they never do) smiling through it will fix the image. Always. Be. Smiling.