I love capturing lives, stories and moments with my camera, making true connections with the families I photograph. Every session is different, every family is unique.
This blog post offers some tips & info for your family session with me...
Time of day
As a natural light photographer, 90% of the time I don't book sessions anytime around midday. I book both mornings and afternoons because this is when the light is best. Just after sunrise and not long before sunset, when the sun is low on the horizon (the golden hours) - this is when I love to shoot. The light is beautiful, soft and saturated. It truly will make a difference to your final photos! Of course an overcast day is also great but as everyone knows there's something special about the light at sunrise and sunset.
What to wear
Family photos are an investment and I believe what you choose to wear for your photos is important to consider. What you wear for your family session can make a big difference and usually it's not until afterwards when you see the photographs that you realise this. If you're wondering what might look great for photos here's some pointers:
Start with colour
The easiest place to start wardrobe planning is with your colour palette. Think coordinated, not “matched”. Co-ordinated outfits provide a subtle cohesiveness to your photos. I suggest sticking to a couple of colours and pick out clothes for the family within this colour range. For example: tones of blue, with neutrals such as greys and creams. Or complimentary pastel colours of pink, cream, soft blues etc. Your goal is to create a pulled together, coordinated look that’s natural without being overly “matchy” or “uniformed”.
Add interest with layers & accessories
Using layers and accessories is a great way to add visual interest and create different “looks” for each family member during your session. Simply adding or removing items like sweaters, coats or scarves can give you a quick “wardrobe change” between shots. Carefully chosen accessories like scarves, statement jewelry, or a favourite hat are fun touches of personal style and personality. Necklaces, scarves, belts etc - all add texture to your photos and can add to your outfit.
What to avoid
Avoid clothes with large or bold graphics, text or distracting patterns. These can cause distractions in your photos and sometimes don't photograph well. Black and whites are great, but don't go all white or all black. Break it up if you can. Large areas of black and white in photographs can become flat or lack detail in photographs. Guys, we recommend that you avoid patterns that are smaller than a coin. For example: a checkered shirt. These small patterns can create strange visual effects in a digital camera.
Your home plays a role
Also consider where your portraits are going to be displayed in your home. For larger canvases or framed prints, perhaps intended as the focal point of a family room or dining room, consider your wall colours and the overall décor and style in those rooms as you plan your wardrobe choices.
Looking & feeling your best
When it comes to what you wear, consider how an outfit sits on your body. You want your outfit to outline & add curves to your silhouette, so you don't want anything too loose or baggy that doesn't provide you any shape at all. Take a look through my past blogs for some inspiration - you will see how different outfits, colours and accessories change the look and feeling of photos. There’s no rules to how dressed up you need to be, tidy casual is just as effective! Most importantly be comfortable & confident in what you wear. And don’t forget that I am here to help! I’m happy to offer guidance for the style & look you want to achieve and help prepare you for your portrait session so that you get the most from your portraits.
Children & smiles
My favourite photographs are natural, genuine moments that show connection, emotion and character. I find that 99% of the time asking a child to smile does not produce a true, natural smile. Let me as the photographer work for those smiles. It's my job to ensure you all have a fun, relaxed time during your family portrait shoot.
With children I often find one person behind me (usually making fun of me) is a great way to get some giggles out of a child. But having all the family standing spread out behind me talking to a child when I'm taking individual portraits doesn't work. A child can only look in one place at a time & most often in this scenario its not at me. I have taken some of my favourite portraits of children when I'm just following them around, letting them do their own thing. If I can get a child to warm to me and get five minutes with just them and my camera I often get that shot where it all just works. There's connection, its natural and it becomes the shot Mum wants framed on the wall.
Session Length & Location
I don't set time limits on my portrait sessions. Every family is unique and every story is different. Some take 30 minutes, others take over an hour. Many factors influence the timeframe but most importantly it's about being relaxed, having some fun and getting the shots you want.
Family sessions are usually taken at one or two locations. Often locations special to the family; such as on the family farm or the park where you often go with the children. I will discuss this with you when planning your session. And don't be surprised if I see a certain location during the session and decide we have to use it. I am always looking for good light and backgrounds that will work photographically. It's my job to do this for you.
Preparation is key. I will work with you on locations and ideas for your session. Take the time to think about locations & fun ideas etc. I love being able to incorporate something unique to your family into the session, whether it be using a location you always go to as a family, bringing along the family dog, letting the children bring their favourite teddy or some bubbles to blow etc. It's your family session so make sure it reflects you.
Go take a look at my previous family sessions on the blog and you'll quickly get an idea of how my family sessions work - they're fun, candid and very relaxed. Also when I send you my pricelist, this contains information pages that may help you when preparing for your session & give you an idea of what to expect.
And for all the preparation in the world just remember its okay if it doesn't all go to plan. If Miss 3 just won't smile no matter what treats I have in my camera bag, if an angry pimple makes an appearance on the day (thank you Photoshop!) or Master 5 decides to fall over in the dirt - it's okay. We'll work with what we've got and I'm all for keeping it real!
Relax & enjoy the session
My most important tip is to just relax and have fun. I know most people hate the thought of getting their photo taken, but I promise it's quite painless 😉. Getting family portraits should be a fun experience. I aim to make my family sessions laid-back, not too posed and filled with laughter.
Think of it as some special "family-time." I promise you won't regret getting your family portraits taken. Family portraits are a snapshot in time & become precious heirlooms to be enjoyed for years - one of the best parts of my job is the way my client's faces light up when they see their family portraits printed ready to go on their walls, and kids expressions when they flip through their new family album!
I hope these tips give you some ideas and guidance for you family session with me. If you have questions along the way remember I am just an email or phone call away.x
The [INSERT: busy / silly / summer / fun / wedding / awesome / holiday] season is well and truly on it's way! I often get asked by friends, industry peers and clients how I keep on top of work during this season, how we manage to stay energised and keep up to things like blogging every week. So today I'm sharing 3 things I do in my business to stay organised & productive...
BLOCKING OUT DAYS IN MY CALENDAR AS 'UNAVAILABLE'.
When you’re self-employed and you don’t follow the usual 9 to 5 Monday to Friday structure it can be pretty easy to forget to have a day off or just give yourself days of no distraction to knuckle down and get the editing & office work done. If I allowed myself to book shoots, meetings and appointments for every day of the week it would be easy to fall behind with my workflow. So I try to block out at least one day each week in my calendar as “unavailable” so that I don’t book in anything for that day and I know I have that full day to work on office tasks and with the luxury of being able to do it in yoga pants with messy hair & no makeup! Just this simple trick with my calendar definitely helps me stay organised and on top of my workload during the busy season.
SETTING TIME ASIDE FOR SOCIAL MEDIA.
Rather than having Facebook open on a tab while I’m doing emails, or sitting on my phone uploading images to Instagram when I'm meant to be relaxing on the couch with Matt, I try to have set windows of time that I dedicate to my social media platforms. And once I’m done I close the browser tab or the app instead of keeping it open in the background (sitting there to distract me in a moment of procrastination). Even though social media is a huge part of my business I think it’s crucial not to let it monopolise my time. By setting myself a block of time to update social media I'm making it a task and once I've done what I came to accomplish I shut back out of it. And if you find it really hard to leave Facebook alone, you can even get an app that will lock you out of social media for a set amount of time!
I HAVE A WORKFLOW & I STICK TO IT.
Shooting up to 20 weddings a season means there are a lot of emails, meetings, location scouting, editing and album designing for various wedding couples going on at any one time. So having a system and checklist process helps me know what needs done when for each of our wedding couples and every shoot. I use a CRM software called LightBlue which is specifically designed for photographers and helps me keep track of workflow, plus things like contracts and even enquiries. There’s heaps of different programs out there for photography businesses and other industries too, it’s just a matter of finding one that fits the way you like to work and that does the things you want it to. We also use an app called Trello for simple management of non-client related tasks. Now that Matt is assisting me with more tasks in the business, Trello has become a great way for each of us to be able to see what general tasks need doing. Regardless of whether you have a written list workflow, a spreadsheet (which is what I first used) or you’re using software - the key is to have a system so that nothing gets forgotten, over-looked or overdue.
If you're an entrepreneur and you have a busy season ahead I hope my 3 things might be helpful for you. And I'd love to know what tips & tricks you have for staying organised and on top of your A-game?
One thing I talk to my wedding couples about when planning for their photos is locations and how rather than rushing around a dozen locations to get variety, I prefer to use just a couple of locations to their full potential and create a relaxed and laid-back experience from portrait time.
I remember when I first started out as a photographer I would often be shooting away then get a creative “mind-block” with my photos or setups and I would move on to a new location as a crutch because I couldn’t think of what to do next. Effectively I was using the change of location to provide variety to my images.
These days, having gained experience & training, I am definitely more intentional with location choices, looking for spots with beautiful, complimentary light and maximising these locations. I'd rather have one good location with awesome light, than half a dozen locations with mediocre light. Plus having to travel to each new location can eat into your timeframe really quickly.
Adding variety can be as simple as changing how my subjects are standing or getting a combination of wide and close-up shots.
For this whole series of images, Shanaye & Oscar were pretty much standing in the same spot!
We shot Bridget & Hamish's engagement session at the beach and these are just a handful of the portraits we created in the one spot!
I can also add variety to my images through changes in composition and gaining different emotions from my couples or subjects. From documenting romantic quiet moments to capturing bubbly laughter and fun. I love photographs with movement and connection so I am constantly getting my subjects to 'do things' whether that's simply walking, the flick of a wedding veil or just talking to each other. I know exactly how awkward it is to be stuck in front of the camera so I work really hard to remove that awkwardness for my subjects with relaxed direction and conversation.
The other thing about locations, is that one place or location can provide a number of ‘spots’ for photos. For example we might use a garden for photos and within the garden there are a number of different spots providing variety in backdrops. Peter & Donna did all their bridal portraits on one property in Arrowtown, we literally drove there, parked up and walked around for photos in a few different spots that I had scouted out the day before their wedding.
At the end of the day my photographs are about the people in them and while pretty backdrops are great for portraits, what's most important to me is documenting amazing memories & genuine moments for my clients and creating an awesome experience.