How to prepare for your family session
You've just made a meaningful investment in your family archives.
I'll handle the logistics, the flow of the session, and the final product. All you need to focus on is showing up as your fabulous selves.
In order to help you maximize your fabulousness and minimize your stress, I've put together some important tips on how to prepare for your session.
Before I dive into them, I want to share a little story...
Six years ago, when my children were 4 yrs and 3 months old, I scheduled a photo session for my family. It felt like moving mountains, but I was able to get everyone, including myself, ready and out the door in time to drive the 45 minutes it would take us to make it to our session.
For all of those who have had a baby, you know that 3 month olds can unexpectedly produce a variety of bodily fluids in the car. To prevent ruining her outfit from a potential blow-out diaper or spit-up situation, I dressed my little one in a onesie/footed pajama outfit and put her clothes for the session in a bag to bring along.
As soon as we parked at the session location, I didn't even have to look before it came to me that I LEFT THE BAG WITH MY DAUGHTER'S OUTFIT AT HOME. The horror! I was so distraught about this. Disappointed in myself for forgetting, angry that she wouldn't be able to wear the cute little dress I picked out, and on and on.
And then...I got over it. I realized there was nothing that I could do and that I had to reframe. So reframe, I did. I changed the narrative and decided that it was perfectly fine for little Annabelle to be in her jammies. After all, she was a 3 month old BABY. It's not like I had shown up in MY pjs, forgetting to get myself ready. I realized that this is a snapshot in our life. A time for us that is a little chaotic and a lot amazing. A time where you have to go with the flow. And that's what these photos would reflect.
I now look back at those photos and smile. Smile at the cuteness of baby Annabelle in pjs. Smile at the connection in the photos. Smile at my daughter's big smile.
I invite you to try the same. Yes, you can aim to get it all together perfectly...but if something is off or forgotten or not as you thought it would be for your family during your session, try to see it as symbolic of where you're at, and roll with the punches. I promise it'll all be ok.
Lean into the chaos, embrace the mess, and you'll see the beauty
WARDROBE - part I - clothes
Figuring out wardrobe options for your session can be overwhelming. Don't let it be! These photos are for you and your family, so they should represent just that.
Plan yours and your family's outfits (and make any necessary purchases) at least one week in advance so that there is time for adjustments if needed.
Pick up to 3-4 colors. They do not have to match, as matchy-matchy is a thing of the past. Colors can coordinate and complement each other.
Patterns are ok! As long as they complement each other and are in-line with the color scheme.
Avoid neon colors. They can cause unpleasant color-casting on the face.
Avoid lettering and logos for a more classic look. Sometimes, if understated, lettering can be ok, however, make sure it is intentional.
Don't be afraid to go fancy (or casual). Again, this session is for YOU. If you're in the mood for your family to glam it up, this is the perfect opportunity! If you want to go casual in jeans, that looks awesome, too.
WARDROBE - part II - feet matter
Feet are created equal. Don't let the wrong footwear ruin your phenomenal outfit choices! Your entire body, including your feet, will be photographed. Here are some tips on how to make sure those feet are photo-ready.
The style of shoe should be in-line with the style of your clothes. Comfort IS important, yes, and sneakers are ok. But! All sneakers are NOT created equal. In general, athletic-type sneakers, even when you're dressed casually, don't translate well in photos. If sneakers are your jam, go for it! Maybe get a new funky pair, or wear some that are simple and neutral.
Don't forget to consider your socks. If you choose to wear socks, that is A-OK! But just don't forget that they WILL show. They will show when you are sitting down for photos, and sometimes when you're standing. Nothing ruins a nice dress shoe like an athletic sock. Don't let that happen to you. If you wear socks, make sure they're on point with your look. You'll thank me later!
Don't be afraid to go bare! Bare feet are perfect for in-home sessions. But they can also be fun for summer sessions in your yard or on your porch. If you do go bare, think about your toes and whether you want them polished or not. Both are fine, just make sure they don't have 4-week old chipped polish on them like mine do right now :)
OTHER IMPORTANT TIPS
Your outfits are sorted out. Everyone has tried them on and likes them. You've picked out your shoes/socks/footwear. You're ready to go. But wait! There are some other things to think about...
Layers are key during cold months. The weather in DC can be so unpredictable. If your session is during the fall, winter or spring, I highly recommend layering, especially for children who get colder easily. Under shirts, long sleeves, sweaters, and if needed, a jacket/coat. Coats can be removed right before the session, and put on in between shots if those little ones are having a difficult time with the temp.
Don't forget accessories. Accessories can be a fun way to add dimension and character. Jewelry, hair accessories, scarves are all great flare to consider adding to your ensemble.
There are some things that should NOT be included. Such as sunglasses on the head and cell phones in the pockets. I know it's hard to put these things down, but for the purposes of photos, less is more, and the less excess baggage you have on your person, the better, as they will show in the photos.