While it might seem that beautiful portraits happen in a click of a button, there’s actually quite a bit of preparation that is required for a successful photo session (both from you and from me, the photographer). And that preparation really starts right around 2 weeks beforehand.
Below are some tips (or perhaps more like a to-do list) for making sure you are fully ready, have the essentials taken care of, and are guaranteed a stress-free session day…
This is the time for haircuts
If you have boys, like I do, are a man, or have a husband, about 2 weeks before your photo session is when you’ll want to get the haircuts taken care of. Why 2 weeks? Because that gives hair enough time to grow out a bit and not look as stiff. Of course, you’ll know best when it comes to your or your family’s hair, so if your child needs a super-short haircut that only looks good for about a week, time it appropriately.. but for most people, having a bit of time for hair to settle is the best approach.
Take care of hair color and root touch-ups
And if you’re a woman and have highlights or dye your hair, this is also the best time to get everything touched up if needed. Don’t go to a NEW Salon, though. Don’t change your hair style or try something new.. now is definitely NOT the time for it. Looking like yourself is really important here and we definitely want to avoid any unpleasant surprises!
Have your In-Home Styling Consultation
The Styling Appointment is really important and takes place 1-2 weeks before your family session. This Consultation is the reason why all my families look so well put together and perfectly styled. During this appointment, which takes about 45 minutes, I will come to your home, we’ll select outfits right from your closets, and put together several options that are well coordinated but not matchy. Furthermore, depending on what you’re looking to do with your portraits, we’ll work with your home interior decor to make sure your new portraits will fit in perfectly on the wall within the space. After all, color and a cohesive interior is incredibly important. And not only do we want to follow your family’s already established unique style, but we also want to allow each member of your family to express their own style individually. This is why there’s really no substitute to having a home visit and doing this in person (and trust me, I tried other ways to do this). And yes, it takes time, but the results really do speak for themselves.
While there’s really no reason why you would need to purchase any clothing specifically for your session, sometimes (especially if we’re going into a new season) it makes sense to do a little shopping. You can do this either before or after your Styling Consultation and I always suggest keeping the tags on clothes until we are sure that we will use them. If you’re having your maternity portraits taken, you might want to buy the same outfit in two sizes, just in case one no longer fits in 2 weeks (things change fast when you’re pregnant!).
Schedule to have your nails done
If you get your nails done on a regular basis, be sure to schedule an appointment for yourself (if you’re the Mom) and for any children who wear nail polish to take place right before the session. Don’t go for a crazy nail color, especially if it’s something that could clash with the outfits we selected. This is one of those things that often gets overlooked and older girls, especially, often arrive with chipped nail polish. So make sure it’s taken care of. Make the appointment, put it in your calendar, and take care of this little detail that can seriously ruin a good portrait.
And some Don’ts
Airbrush tanning (unless you do it already)
Don’t start sunless tanning right before your session. Results are unpredictable and can sometimes look a bit orange in photographs. If you’re been going to an airbrush tanning salon already and consistently do so, there’s no need to stop (and I always recommend Zen Bronze as they do a really great job). The point here is, don’t do anything NEW. Just because looking tan in your portraits sounds like a good idea, if you’ve never done it before, now is not the time to experiment. As a fair-skinned individual, I have learned to embrace my natural skin color and I urge you to do the same. And if you’re worried about looking “washed out”, we will select outfits to make sure it doesn’t happen.
Don’t go out without sunscreen
If you’re planning on a sunny tropical vacation before your session or it’s currently summer, do not venture outside without sunscreen. It’s a terrible idea to get a sunburn before a photoshoot. This goes for kids and adults alike.
And that’s it! Does it sound like a lot? Because trust me, being unprepared is worse. If you’re a planner like me, you’ll probably appreciate being able to go down the list. And if you’re more of a wing-it type of person, I will have e-mail reminders for you so you never miss anything that’s critical (and nail polish remover in the Studio just in case, btw).
The thing is, this process isn’t going to be right for everyone.
If you’re looking for someone to show up for an hour and take some pictures, I am NOT the photographer you should go with. And that’s ok! There are tons of super talented photographers who do that. The process you experience with me is one where every detail is taken care of. And it is a process. Before you show up for your session we would have talked on the phone, selected your outfits, figured out what types of portraits we’re photographing for, scheduled your hair styling, and spent a considerable amount of time together already. Most photographers don’t bother doing any of that, because it takes time and effort and doesn’t necessarily translate into income (not like taking on more clients does!).
But to me, preparation and spending all that time together is the key to getting good family portraits. And it’s the little things.. the details like neat nail polish and hand-selected outfits, that make all the difference!