You’ve booked the date, and paid the deposit. Congrats, the first big hurdles are finally done! You’re officially on the calendar for a beautiful family portrait session. Here’s a comprehensive checklist that will walk you through every step of the portrait process to help you feel confident and prepared for your session. A family photo shoot is just another opportunity to spend time together as a family. If you have any additional questions please send me a note! I’d be delighted to hear from you, or provide any other family photo shoot advice that would be useful.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOUR SESSION

Plan your outfits at least a week in advance—don’t wait ‘til the last day, trust me! You want to wake up feeling relaxed and prepared, so plan these details out early. I will send you a Wardrobe Guide – with links to purchase items to make it even easier. Feel free to text me photos of your wardrobe if you’re having a hard time choosing! I’m happy to help.

Make hair, nail, and/or makeup appointments for before your session. Make sure your roots are touched up and you aren’t wearing chipped nail polish to your session! These are small details but we want everything to be perfect.

Prepare your kids (and husband!) with laid-back, low-key references to let them know what’s happening. Tell them you will be “hanging out with our friend Jess on Saturday!” or “going to the park to play!” and keep things fun, lighthearted, and casual. (Families have shared that this tip is especially helpful if they have a particularly shy child.)

Brainstorm about specific props, mementos, or special types of images you want captured. Some families bring heirloom quilts, a special stuffed animal, an embroidered keepsake, etc. Some families know they want a very specific type of photograph taken. If you have these preferences, be sure to brainstorm them in advance and let me know as well!

Review all the things I emailed you: links to blog posts, the Session Guide, or Session Wardrobe Guide. These are all very important because they are full of tips and information that is very useful!

• And of course, make sure everyone gets a good night’s sleep and eats a good meal beforehand.

HOW TO DRESS FOR YOUR SESSION

• I recommend women wear medium or long dresses because they capture more movement and generally photograph more flatteringly. Short dresses will be a challenge when we do any seated photos, so keep that in mind. If opting for pants keep it casual such as boyfriend jeans and a loose / flowing top.

• I recommend men wear pants and comfortable shirt with either henley shirt, full button-down or sweater.

• Don’t wear matching clothes— no more jeans-and-matching-shirts these days! Instead, wear colors in a complimentary color palette, such as earth tones and neutrals

• Shoes , make sure they are clean and in good appearance. No tennis shoes , if photographing at the beach, I recommend just simple sandals.

• Wear comfortable shoes and clothes you can move in. If your dress gets suddenly too short when you bend over, or your pants are too tight to sit down in, opt for more breathable pieces. Be prepared to move!
Limit distracting patterns and large logos.

• Do opt for accessories! Bowties, suspenders, hats, flower headbands, chunky scarves, beautiful flowing dresses and skirts—these create visual interest and movement in your photos, and really help the images stand apart. Photos are a special occasion; take advantage of this fun opportunity to dress up a little more.

WHAT TO BRING TO YOUR PHOTO SESSION

• Any personal appearance touchup items you might want, including things like lipstick or a hairbrush.

Snacks + water .. and if necessary, treats to bribe kiddos with! (However, I will also have a Prize Basket with me, with prizes for all ages – no candy – so please feel free to let your little ones know there is a prize at the end!)

Walkable shoes. We will probably be walking short/moderate distances, often on unpaved trails, possibly with hills. Walkable shoes are a must! If you just love your wedges, bring them to change into before we start shooting.

• A change of clothes for the kiddos, in case anyone gets muddy or dirty. As a photographer, I love when kids interact fully with their surroundings, and I’m thrilled to photograph them playing in water or running through the grass. As a parent, you might not be too keen to let them back into your car, covered in mud. Feel free to bring a change of clothes or shoes. Maybe even a towel. You never know!!

HOW TO POSE DURING YOUR SESSION

Super important , so please read carefully

No need to ‘Cheese’! I’m chasing natural interactions and unposed moments. I strive to capture and encourage authentic expressions. No need to coax your children into fake smiles!

• On a related note, children around the ages of 3-8 will sometimes try to “cheese” in the photos, because that’s what they’ve been conditioned to do when they see a camera! Help me create more candid shots by interacting playfully with your children.

• We will go for the money shot , meaning I do start off each session with a few simple posed shots where everyone is looking at camera smiling .. or trying too.

Laugh, play, tickle, and snuggle. This is how we’ll capture the REAL moments.

Not everyone has to be looking at the camera. Actually, I usually encourage my gentlemen to NOT look at the camera. (they seem to prefer that, as well!) I like to especially encourage my dads to focus on their partners and their kids.

• When in doubt, just smile and look at your family lovingly. Stand close together. Actually, as close as possible.

Relax, slow down, and don’t force anything. Don’t feel pressured to make everything perfect! Just be present with your family and I’ll do the rest. And don’t stress if any of the kids get fussy! As an experienced photographer, I’ve seen it all before, trust me. Just snuggle your kiddos and we can still capture beautiful images

Expect me to move you around to different spots to capture images. The more variety we get, the bigger your gallery and the more great shots we have the opportunity to create together!

WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER YOUR SESSION

• After your session, I will be working hard behind the scenes to cull the best photos (eliminating duplicates, blurs, and blinks) Your gallery is typically ready within 2 – 3 weeks of your session.

• Sneak Peeks – After your session, I will most likely post a few sneak peeks of your images on my Instagram if you allow me to do so. Sneak peeks can be really fun for the client (and the Artist) but please remember that they are offered as a courtesy and may take a bit of time.

• Check out printing options. Look online (such as the Pinterest) for ideas about wall gallery displays. There are tons of beautiful ideas for every style and budget. In your online gallery, you can conveniently download your images for high quality prints, framed photos, and canvases,

• Leave a review ! Because hey why not..they always help ! I’m on Google , YELP! + Facebook .