Tips for your outdoor family photo session
Plan to have fun!
Ultimately you want to enjoy your time together, this will be reflected in your pictures. Talk to each other, laugh with each other, just play and have fun, these will make the best pictures, just playing like I’m not even there. Every once and awhile I’ll want you to look at the camera, I’ll let you know.
Think ahead and come prepared with ways to engage your children while on your shoot. Little games you may play that they love and make them laugh – having a race, blowing bubbles, playing “got your nose,” playing airplane, tickling them, discovering new things around them, telling them stories, singing songs with them, etc. Anything you know that will stop them in their tracks and make them want to play with you or at least pay attention to you. You could also bring along a toy or two that they like to play with as long as you don’t mind it in their photos (a special doll, stuffed animal, rattle, a book, etc). Also, don’t have anything you don’t want in the pictures, like snacks. Either have snacks right before (and be sure to get all of those crumbs off) or save them for after the shoot. Once they come out its hard to get kids back in the game.
Where to look
Mostly you will be looking at each other, or at something you are engaged with (feeding the ducks, watching a plane go by, looking at a book, etc), I’m trying to capture those moments between the members of your family. I’ll let you know when I’m trying to get those pictures where you are all grouped together and looking at me. This is when you’ll look at the camera, or each other. Occasionally you’ll be sharing a moment together that involves looking at some object either in or off screen (like two parents looking at their children, or a parent and a child exploring something in the environment).
Don’t try and direct your children.
Basically don’t tell them to smile, look into the camera, or to stand in a certain spot. This will ensure they do none of these things. The best thing to do is to just make them laugh using the things that always make them laugh – play a trick, sing a song, tell a joke. Laughing pictures always look better than fake smile pictures anyway.
For the time we will be together I’ll mostly be capturing spontaneous moments of you and your family having fun together. The first 10-15 minutes of the shoot I will focus on getting the family shot of everyone together, and a photo with the siblings. If you try and tell your kids to look at the camera during this time I’ll inevitably end up with a bunch of shots of you looking down telling your kid what to do while they look and smile at the camera, or you guys smiling and them looking somewhere else. Just keep looking, smiling, or laughing and eventually I’ll be able to get their attention. For the kids individual shots I will take care of most of the direction of the children for these, although if I employ your help I might have you stand behind me while you are getting their attention. After I grab these I'll be focusing on getting lots of candid shots of you all having fun together, and work on grabbing the individual shots of each child. There will be times I want you and your kids to be in a specific spot. I’ll just tell you to go over to that spot and engage your kids using one of the fun things that you use to get their attention.
Think about if there are any specific shots you want.
When we start the shoot let me know if there is anything in particular you are looking for and I can make sure I try and get it. Also feel free to tell me any shots you are not interested in me getting.
Plan ahead to make your session go smoothly
- Nap, Feeding. It's extremely important to do what you can to have your kids in good mood. For my kids this means make sure they slept enough and are not hungry.
- Traveling. It's important to be there on time (even 10 minutes earlier). This means you won't be nervous because you are running late. Nervous parents = nervous kids.
- Outfits. Choose your outfits a couple of days before the session. Don't leave it for the last minute, otherwise you will take the chance of running late to your sessions because something about the outfit didn’t work and you had to change your mind. You want your outfits to look good together, but this doesn't mean you have to go with same colors. They should complement each other (so for fall you’d all want to have fall colors on, but you don’t all have to wear purple) and they should be similar in brightness (either all wearing deep colors, pastels, or all bright colors). Avoid lots of loud patterns and logos (you want the focus to be you and your family, not what you are wearing). Lastly, make sure you and your kids are comfortable in their outfits.
Preparing your children for what will happen.
Ultimately you know your child best. Some work best with lots of preparation to new experiences, some are better off just walking into a situation and roll with the punches. At the most basic level tell your kids more about what you are going to do in the park (or any other location) and how much fun you are going to have. Please do mention that you'll meet another person there and you'll have a walk all together. It's also a good idea to think about the location and if there is anything special that you can do there with your kids (feed ducks, look at flowers). It is up to you how much you want to prepare them for the fact pictures of them will be taken. When I meet with your family I will spend the first few minutes trying to connect with your children.
Don’t get upset if your plan doesn’t work
You have had everything planned out, an idea or vision of how the shoot would go. But at some point the shoot will go off track and things will be quite unexpected. This is part of the process and expected with children. Just roll with it and have fun, that is what I'll be doing. And at the end of the day you will love your photos.