Tips for your Fall Family Mini Session
For my normal sessions there is usually quite a bit of flexibility, but for these sessions if you want to get as much as you can from your session timeliness is extremely important. The session is 25 minutes, and the first few minutes I will spend trying to get your children to love me so that your pictures will be great. I'd suggest planning to come at least 10 minutes early, because from one parent to another, I know how children decide to be their most disagreeable selves when you have somewhere to be. The other point is that if you are rushing you and your children will be stressed out, and because the session is short there is not much recovery time for that. My goal is to make this relaxed and fun for everyone so we can make great pictures.
Once we are all warm and cozy with each other I will spend the next 15 minutes or so focusing on your family portraits. If there are siblings I will try and do them together first, then the whole family. Then I will focus on getting solo photos of the kids. This will likely turn into a bit of playtime, as I have found it easiest to get genuine pictures of the kids when they are doing things they love.
What to bring
Mainly you just need your sense of fun and some creativity. Think, in advance, of at least 3 specific things that really engage your children and make your children laugh. Silly games, songs, stories, etc. These are especially useful when I'm getting pictures of just the kids, as well as pictures of you playing together.
If you have young infants I'd advise bringing a blanket to sit them on, and a couple of their favorite toys that make noise (to help get their attention).
What to wear
While I don't know what the weather will be like for sure I'd guess it'll be a bit on the chilly side, it is fall. Things that look wonderful in photos are layers and textures. Fall coats look great. Sweaters, corduroys, skirts with fun tights, and jeans are also fantastic options, they will add depth to your photos. If you have fun fall hats for the kids, or yourselves that is great, just please no caps or brims (they will create a dark shadow on your face).
You do not, and should not, be completely matching each other. You want these photos to look like your family on a well dressed day (and I can't imagine you'd normally be all matching). I'd advise sticking to complementary colors, so that you all look like you belong together. Pastels, rich fall hues, even bright colors if that is what you look good in. Main things to avoid are logos and loud patterns on grow ups (kids can get away with it). Most importantly of all dress the kids so they are comfortable, and make sure you feel great in what you are wearing. You want people to focus on your family in these photos, not what you are all wearing.
What to tell your kids
You certainly know our children the best and will know if they do better with a bit of prep. Whether the day before, or on their way to the park, you may just want to let them know that you are meeting a friend in the park and that I will be taking your photos while you play for a little bit. I'd focus on the playing, and that I'm just there in addition to your family. If you find that with your children having a special surprise of some sort works to motivate them I'm perfectly happy to be the gatekeeper here, once I get what I need I can "give you" permission to dole it out. I'm used to being the enforcer at home :)
What NOT to tell your kids
While counter intuitive telling them to smile will backfire every single time. Or you will get them to smile and it will be the goofiest, cheesiest grin you've ever seen. This is why I tell you to come prepared with things that you KNOW will make them laugh. Another point is that while I'm taking the photo of your whole family, the one where you are all looking at me, I need all grownups to look at me. Don't look down at your kids to tell them to smile, then I get lots of pictures of happy kids with grown ups looking down and talking to kids. They will eventually look my way, and I will get it, but I need you guys to be looking too.
What to tell me
Let me know if you prefer formal style photos or more photo journalistic. Basically, is it most important you have everyone looking at the camera, or is it more important that everyone is being genuine and interacting? Also, are there any specific photos that that are most important? Just let me know so I can focus on getting it.