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How to Have a Successful Family Photo Shoot

AnandiRC1 Comment

As a continuation of yesterday's post on finding a photographer, today I'm going to talk about what to do once you've secured that awesome photographer to do your family photo shoot or wedding photos.

What Are Your Must-Haves?

Yep, you still have some work to do. You definitely don't want to micromanage the photographer, as (s)he is a professional, but you also have to communicate enough to let them know what you'd like to see.  They can't read your mind enough to know you want a shot of you and your college buddies singing your favorite drinking song, or that you want photos of you and your hubby alone during a family shoot.  It's up to you to TELL THEM.

I picked up a tip from one of those ubiquitous wedding-planning magazines:  make a list of the shots that you want, both candid and posed.   If you want a shot of you in your wedding dress holding your beagle, you need to let the photographer know.  On the big day, you might not remember the list so WRITE IT DOWN, and send it to the photographer ahead of time.

For our family photos, I emailed a short list to Kristi, and asked for her feedback because I wanted to be clear that I wasn't trying to tell her how to do her job.  I made the list fairly vague and just discussed the subjects, not the style:

  • All five of us (people and dogs)
  • Baby and each dog interacting or at least looking at each other :)
  • One good chubby baby arms and legs and bare feet shot
  • Baby and mama, and baby and daddy
  • My husband and Peanut (they are Soul Mates)

What to Wear and Bring

It's also helpful to ask the photographer what you all should wear (unless it's for your wedding, duh!).  Solid colors are good because they're not distracting, and Kristi recommended that we wear shirts in the same color family so they don't clash.  For some of our shoots, we used the girls' matching Halloween costumes, or a cute coordinating outfit.

We also asked her if she needed any 'props' and she suggested a neat idea where we'd all be wearing white in our bed with a white comforter and sheets, snuggling with the baby.  That worked out well, even though we didn't change T back into her white onesie:

 For another session, we brought along a giant felt heart and a HUGE yellow balloon.

Location, Location, Location

For family shoots, ask your photographer for location suggestions if you don't have your heart set on one.  Some people like nature, and others like an urban backdrop. We love our house and wanted to capture that as part of the photos, so we chose to do our family shoot at home.  It's definitely easier with babies to stay closer to home for outfit changes and feedings. 

We did my pregnancy shoot at a local park with our dogs, because the lighting was better outside that day (though it was 98 degrees, but that's another story!).

If you're getting pictures done at home, make sure the areas you're using are clean. You don't want piles of dirty laundry or dog hair-covered blankets in the background of your shots.  Photoshop can only do so much :)

The Big Day

For our family shoot, Kristi advised me to choose a time when the baby was fed and well-rested.  (One out of two wasn't bad!)  This sounds obvious, but really think about it. If your baby is asleep when the photographer shows up, do you really want to wake her?  

Have all the outfits and props, plus any additional payments ready to go.  Once the photo shoot is underway, you don't want to disrupt the "flow" by trying to deal with business details.  Of course, if a baby's diaper needs to be changed, or the dog needs to go out, you'll deal with it, but it's best to get everything else ready ahead of time. 

And then just do your thing.  Try to ignore the fact that there's a photographer there and go about your business.  Eventually you'll stop noticing him/her, and that's when the magic happens!

See related posts at The Papercraft Lab