Preparing the Family for a Photo Session

Being a mom of three means if anyone understands the struggle of preparing your family for their photo session, it’s me.

It’s near impossible to convince everyone to be in a good mood at the same time, to wear what I want them to wear, to get along with each other during the ride to the session, let alone DURING the session. The daunting task of getting everything together is enough to keep some families from ever scheduling a session for fear they will be embarrassed or get angry or it’s just simply not worth the struggle.

I’m here to tell you folks….that is the wrong way to look at it.

Here’s the facts:

Your kids are going to get a stain on their shirt on the way out of the door.

Your toddler will fall asleep in the car and have car seat lines on their face.

Your preteen boy will run too fast and fall and get grass stains on his jeans.

Your daughter will get an attitude and refuse to cooperate momentarily.

Your pets will throw up in the car on the way to the session.

Your brain will overload and you’ll be close to tears by the time you arrive.

Here’s the good news:

I already know all this and I’m waiting patiently for you with a huge smile on my face, ready to take over all the craziness for the next hour. So basically, you get a break. For just a bit.

I have all the professional editing software necessary to remove that stain from your kid’s shirt. Or even that scab on his forehead from playing too hard with his brother earlier in the week. I got you. Don’t sweat it.

You’re going to end up with two things…beautiful images of your family that you can look at for generations to come and never once see the drama that ensued on the way to get them made AND awesome photos of your real life with your family because one day…not this day…but one day in the future…you’ll look at them and crack up laughing at how much you miss those times and how stressed you were that day and how you’d give anything to go back to that moment just one more time.

So look people…don’t stress what we already know is going to happen. Let it happen. And let it get documented. I promise it’s ok and there’s no need to be embarrassed by the stress you are enduring. We ALL deal with it.

All that being said, how do I suggest getting your family prepared for your photo session to make it as stress free as possible? Here are my top tips…pulled together over years of experience and knowledge shared with me by some of my awesome clients.

  • Plan Ahead

    This is probably the one thing I’m personally NOT good at, but I can guarantee it helps make the actual day of photos go much smoother. So what do I mean by this?

    Simple… let every know ahead of time what will be happening. Mention it several times a week. Literally drill it in their heads. That way, no one can say they forgot or went ready.

    Coordinate wardrobe WELL ahead of time. In fact, the moment you know you want family photos, I suggest getting your wardrobe together. Or work with me to discuss your vision. Often, your wardrobe and your location are cooperating factors…so it helps me to pick a location that’s perfect for you if I know what your style is going to be. It also ensures that you are not running around last minute trying to find a shirt for little Kyle to wear because you just realized he doesn’t have a blue collared shirt like everyone else. FIgure this all out ahead of time. Have outfits cleaned and pressed and ready to be put on right before you leave the house.

charlotte north carolina family photographer how to prepare for your photo session
  • Choose an Activity

    Honestly, my families have more fun on their sessions and enjoy their photos even more when they’ve chosen an activity to participate in as a family. The entire session doesn’t need to revolve around this activity, but it almost ALWAYS encourages the kiddos to be involved and it actually provides you with some awesome memories aside from your photographs.

charlotte north carolina family photographer how to prepare for your photo session
  • Don’t Expect Perfection

    I don’t mean in your photos. I expect your photos to be perfect. But don’t expect perfection from ANYONE in your group. Because I promise it never happens. It’s much easier for me to capture genuine emotion when no one is attempting to force it. So don’t worry if your littles aren’t smiling. Don’t worry if your husband really doesn’t want to be here. You just keep enjoying yourself and leave it up to me to pull out the personalities.

charlotte north carolina family photographer how to prepare for your photo session
  • Work around your kids’ schedules

    Now usually, I am pretty adamant about scheduling your session at the time where light is going to be most perfect. However…when dealing with the smaller kids, I think it’s imperative to work around their schedules so we can ensure optimum happiness. This means that if you’ve got a baby, we want to schedule your session during her lively and alert hours, not when she’s usually down for a nap. If you’ve got kids who are involved in sports or other activities, try to schedule around those as well. I’ve seen firsthand how upset a kid can get for having to miss a football game to have his photos taken.

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  • Trust your photographer

    This is my favorite one. Why? Because it involves me, of course! But seriously…the best thing you can do to ease through your session is to trust me. Trust my advice on locations…as I have insight on to where is too busy and might be distracting or places that aren’t quite safe for little kids or even places that are super fun for the older kids. Trust my advice on wardrobe…I know it’s not the best part of planning but you’ll be looking at these photos for years to come and the last thing you want is to regret having worn something you picked out last minute.

    Trust me when I tell you I’ve got the kiddos. I’ve raised three of my own almost to adulthood (one is an adult and two are getting super close now!). I won’t hurt your babies and I won’t put them in harm’s way. But I might pick them up and move them around. I may pull them aside and have a secret chat with them…but don’t you worry. I’m just bribing them MY WAY to get them to cooperate (which is often as easy as promising to let them take a photo with my camera after we are done).

    Trust me when I tell you that you look amazing. As a mom, I know how easy it is to get wrapped up in the insecurities we feel…our bodies have changed, we’ve put on weight, we’ve aged…and we see ALL OF THIS in the images of ourselves. But trust me mama….if I tell you that you look amazing, I mean it. Don’t forget how beautiful you are.

charlotte north carolina family photographer how to prepare for your photo session

Soooo….when’s the last time you got your family in front of a camera? If it’s been over a year, it’s been too long. Time to shoot me a message and get to chatting about how we can capture your family memories in a way that will make you remember your time with them as the most perfect time you ever spent on earth. Let’s make it happen!