You have finally found a photographer that can take some family photos for you. Now, it is time to plan your session. A lot of photographers will have a general plan already—after all, it’s in their best interest for your photos to look their best, as well! However, successful photo sessions are a team effort.
Here are 5 things you can do to prepare for your session:
- Trust your photographer. We take countless hours of classes (in person or online) learning everything we can about posing, editing, finding locations, etc. Photography is a never-ending learning process. Trust that your photographer is doing the best they can to make sure your photos are ones you want to hang on your wall. Personally, I like having a consultation with my clients either on the phone or in person so we can talk about what goals we want to accomplish. Some of us like sending out questionnaires about your expectations and to get additional information about your family members individually and the different family dynamics. I promise we aren’t just being nosy! With this information, we can plan workflows and poses that will work the best. If little Johnny and little Suzy do not get along but both adore little Timmy, then guess who will be placed in the middle? Without knowing that dynamic, Johnny and Suzy may spend their portion of the photos wrestling in the dirt! Lol
- Follow suggestions offered by your photographer—this goes hand-in-hand with #1. You may have your heart set on photos at high noon in a bright, reflective parking lot because there is more sunlight to work with. Your photographer may have better ideas of where to go to get the best results. 😉 A lot of us like to send out preparation guides. Read them—most of your questions and concerns may already be addressed. My guides include things such things as what to expect, ideas on what to wear, a checklist of things to remember the day of, etc.
- Ask questions. Every one of us runs our businesses differently. If something isn’t mentioned during your consultation, be sure to ask about it. Try not to make assumptions based on your experience with a different photographer. One photographer may just hand you a disk full of your images while another encourages prints. After reading the guides you’ve been sent (you are going to read them, right??), ask if you are still unsure about something. I have had past clients send me photos of what they wanted to wear before because they couldn’t decide if it would look good together. I also have a Pinterest board with clothing ideas I can send to clients. Your photographer may have something similar!
- Build the photo session up for your family. Let’s face it—husbands and teenagers do NOT want to be there! Assure them the session will go by quickly if they cooperate. I have been known to knock a family session out in 30 minutes—family and individual shots—because everyone cooperated. In all fairness, it gets 10,000 degrees in the summer where I live so that serves as plenty of motivation, too! 😊 Keep in mind that most kids are uncomfortable around people they don’t know and in unfamiliar places. Try to avoid yelling or spanking your child(ren) for not smiling and let things progress naturally. I promise that once they start crying because they are in trouble, there is no coming back from that and it makes your photographer’s job that much harder! We want this to be a positive experience for everyone. We usually have ways to get kids to smile and have fun; sometimes, they just aren’t having it. It may be we just need to move on to something else and give them more time or we may even need to try again on a different day. My point is though that the more positive it is, the more willing they are for the next time!
- Come dressed and completely ready for your session. If you didn’t brush your hair, please don’t expect your photographer to have to try to in Photoshop. Make sure everyone’s clothes are neat and wrinkle free and that faces are clean. Most of us will do basic, simple editing such as removing a scratch from your child falling that morning, but more extensive editing such as fixing unbrushed hair will usually cost you a whole lot more if your photographer is even willing and/or able to do it. So don’t show up in cut-off jeans if you are really wanting to wear a flowy dress in your photos. The more prepared you are, the easier the session will go!
We photographers do this job because we love the art and love sharing it. We love our clients and love working with them together as a team. Remember, these are YOUR photos and you have a say in how you want it to go, as well. As long as you are willing to work as a team, your photo session (and your photos!) will be amazing!
PS…If your photographer sends out a customer survey, fill it out! That’s how we know what we are doing well at and where we need to make improvements.