How to Prepare for Your Family Session
I've heard more than a few moms talk about how getting family photos taken is so stressful. First you have to find a date that works for the whole family, then choose the perfect outfits for everyone, and then make every child smile sweetly AND look at the camera simultaneously with both parents doing the same. I'm feeling the stress levels rise just writing about it! Take a deep breath for just a minute and allow me to explain how all of these seemingly stressful aspects of getting family photos taken can disappear.
Start Shopping Early
My first suggestion is to start planning for your session way earlier than you think. Knock out the outfit prep as soon as or even before you nail down your session date. (Check out this blog post for my top 5 tips on choosing what to wear for everyone.) Sometimes it's easiest to purchase everyone's clothes from the same store, like Old Navy or H&M, because they have a coordinating color palate from baby all the way up to menswear. But remember to stick to my number one tip for best results!
Because you have everyone's wardrobe already chosen, my next piece of advice would be to lay it all out the night before. I'm talking, down to the socks and the hair bows. You will feel so much better when the time comes to get everyone ready because you will know that you're prepared!
Another part of the prep aside from wardrobe is making sure everyone is aware of what's up! Even if you think your toddler won't understand, take a minute to explain what is going on before you arrive at the session. "We're going to get some pictures taken at [insert your location here]. Wendy will be there with her camera to take these photos so we can remember how beautiful our family is all together and how cute you looked when you were a big 3 year-old!" Make sure your children are well fed and well rested prior to the session. (Translation: It will make your session much more enjoyable if you schedule with naptimes or bedtimes in mind.) For older children, a quick, "Thanks so much for helping this go smoothly. I really appreciate your cooperation!" prior to the session can work wonders.
Leave Extra Travel Time
Nothing will sour the mood more than the stress of running late! Give yourself a half hour cushion because I've been there- someone will lose a shoe, or a sock, or throw a fit about the way you want them to do their hair. Plan for it mommas! And when they do, you can react like the calm and collected person that you are. You won't be worrying if it takes ten minutes to get everyone in the car because you already factored that in. You've got this!
Make it an Experience
How often do you have the whole family together, outdoors, with no distracting devices, for a full hour? Use this time to soak in your family! And make it a tradition. Go out for something special afterwards like frozen yogurt. Your kids will start to look forward to this time every year, and so will you. And I am definitely not above bribery, so you could even offer extra toppings for over-the-top incredible behavior from the kids!
Leave the Rest to Me
I have four of my own kids you guys. I have been teaching in preschools and elementary schools for the last 15 years. I've seen a lot of craziness in my days, so please don't worry about your kids! That's my job. I'm here to make everyone feel comfortable in front of the camera so the true personalities can surface. Your job is to love your kids. Done!
When you walk up to your next family session I'll know that you've read this blog post by the relaxed, carefree gleam in your eye. See you then!