We'd love to thank our guest contributor, and friend, Stacey Steinberg, of Stacey Steinberg Photography in Gainesville FL for these wonderful tips!
Fall means back to school, football, and for many families, holiday photo sessions! While photo sessions can be lots of fun, for many families, it can also be a somewhat stressful event. I’ve been photographing families (and bringing my family to photographers for our own session!) for the past five years. I’ve seen photography sessions go great, good, so-so, and terribly, and I want to share with you some advice I’ve picked up from my experiences. As you begin to plan your family’s photography session, you might want to keep in mind these helpful tips.
- Schedule your session early! Many photographers begin to fill their fall calendars in July and August. Do your research ahead of time to be sure you find the right photographer for your family.
- Speaking of scheduling, know what is included with your session fee. Just as there is no “one size fits all” approach to choosing the right photographer style, photographers offer unique packages with their session fees. Some offer a flat session fee, including the photographer’s time and talent at the session only. Others include with their session fee an online, non-downloadable gallery for family and friends to view for a short period of time. Some, like myself, include a set number of edited downloadable digital images with their session fee. And some go even further, including not digital downloads, but also prints, albums, or other tangible photo items with their session fee. If you’ve booked a session but aren’t sure what’s included, don’t hesitate to ask. Your photographer should be happy to discuss this with you. By knowing ahead of time what is included, you can avoid unexpected expenses and be sure that you are fully prepared for your photography experience.
- Think about how you plan to use your images after the session. Is it for a formal family portrait? A more casual holiday card? An everyday photo book capturing a ‘day in the life?’ Your photographer will appreciate knowing this information, as it will help him or her plan your session.
- Plan what to wear ahead of time. Consider choosing one member of the family’s outfit first, and then planning other outfits around it. Many families, including my own, tend to plan mom’s outfit first, but there certainly is no ‘hard and fast’ rule. Consider working with a stylist, who can help you explore both trending and classic styles. For example, Brooke at Addison Mackenzie boutique will help you plan your outfit and then assist you in choosing coordinating outfits for your entire family.
- Take time for the finishing touches. Fresh haircuts? Check. Matching shoes? Check. These little details can make a big difference on your final product. Some of the families I photograph even bring a coordinating blanket to sit on, or a personal item to capture in the image.
- On the big day, show up a few minutes early. When you purchase a session, your time starts at the time you agreed to, not the time you arrive. Many photographers set sessions back-to-back. For mini-sessions, arriving five minutes late could cut almost a third of your time. If you have young children, pets, or even a reluctant spouse, arriving early will also give them a chance to get comfortable in your surroundings.
- As your session begins, RELAX! Your family will sense if you are stressed. Try not to yell “smile” and don’t try cajolingx your kids unless your photographer asks you to. Most photographers will work with the kids in front of them, not the perfect kids you hoped they would be as you drove up to the shoot. Let the smiles come naturally, or wait for the photographer’s instructions for you to step in. For my family, one thing that does seem to help is a little bribery before the session. A trip to the dollar store, going out for ice cream, or even the promise of going to the playground can incentive my kids to cooperate.
While there is no foolproof way to achieve a stellar photo session, these tips should help you make the most out of your time in front of the camera. Good luck, and if you need style inspiration, check out the families photographed on my photography Facebook page, or get in touch with Brooke at the Addison Mackenzie Boutique.