Your guide to the most beautiful and enjoyable photo session ever begins with this question:
"What makes for the best shoot?"
Slow down. Please.
This answer, it’s everything.
Life is fast and busy, but this isn’t what our time is about.
Please share this with all individuals participating in our time together. Your unity and perspective will make all the difference.
Our time is about slowing down. Breathing together.
Leaning into each other, remembering, feeling what makes you feel seen and safe and held.
When I have had my own family’s photographs made (gifted to me by my husband who gets it now after watching me laugh and cry for years now over the images I’ve been so honored to take) I talk with all of my children about this being a gift to me, a special evening to spend time together just being, not doing, not performing, just stepping back from the normal routine to remember the foundation of us.
I made sure the day was peaceful. We didn’t rush, we tried not to argue. I wanted the whole experience to bring back all the feelings of stepping away from our phones and schedules and being caught up in loveliness. I also thought practically though as well. I made sure everyone was fed and had refreshment available in case they got hot or disinterested. I packed bandaids and extra diapers and wipes and snacks. I brought treats for everyone’s smiles but tried not to bribe, I focused on playing and true joy instead. Children (and adults!) pick up on all of the dynamics in times like these so preparing my heart ahead of time directed everything about that beautiful evening.
Your session is equally as important to me- I want it to reflect you and your loved ones’ beautiful story in unique, natural ways.
Don’t get caught up in Pinterest.
Our shoot is less about the perfect holiday card and more about creating art as heirlooms.
Our shoot is about authenticity,
laughter, intimacy, sincerity.
Life can get so busy, many times we are all running our different directions, survival mode is too often normal mode, my hope is that you find your photo session to be a comfortable, relaxed place, not only time to get beautiful images of your family and loved ones, but a sacred time to enjoy each other’s company, notice details you appreciate most, nuances you cherish, laugh at the quirks that make you each unique.
"Okay, I’ve prepared myself mentally, but what should I wear?"
First of all, preparing your outfits and accessories ahead of time helps cut down on last minute stress and hurry. And that’s the most important thing.
If you are constantly adjusting your straps or a toddler’s waistline, you will not truly be able to engage in simply connecting. Everyone should be able to relax in what they are wearing, stand, kneel, bend, sit and move freely and layers with flowing movement work really well.
If asked to choose between barefoot and heels, I’m always going to say barefoot, but that’s me! Think through how you feel most beautiful and natural and dress accordingly.
This all being said, these are some simple steps to choosing an ensemble of outfits that don’t just feel good, but photograph beautifully as well.
1. Inspiration: Consider the colors in your home as these probably reflect the schemes that appeal most to you and pull outfit choices from these as inspiration. These photos will adorn your walls, so coordinating color palettes with combinations you are obviously drawn to will create a feeling of unity. Let’s think together about where will be shooting to help you plan appropriate outfits. For instance, stilettos and business suits may not fit a fielded setting as well as an uptown shoot. A palette of greens may tend to blend in with a manicured lawn where as soft neutrals would provide a pleasant contrast. When we’re in the home, I love seeing children in their pajamas and mama’s in their softest leggings or drapiest jerseys, how they would be most days! Photographing with your most amazing significant other? Think through your favorite activities together, and let’s not just revolve the shoot around them, but go all out with the theme! Let’s build a bonfire in plaids or frolic in romantic flowing dresses. Let your inspiration for your shoot guide your choices. Reversely, if you have a great inspiration palette of colors for your outfits, share your thoughts with your me for further thoughts on locations! I’ve spent years training my eye to see the whole picture (no pun intended) and can offer expert advice to help you not only look your best but feel confident as well! For more inspiration check out my Pinterest board sharing pictures and ideas (link here) to help you plan out your choices. I love to help brainstorm this step in the process, so please feel free to ask!
2. Priorities: For my own pictures, I love to find a dress I feel beautiful and confident in while being able to move freely and then base everyone’s outfits around that. After making sure I feel wonderful in what I’ve chosen for myself, I apply those same principles to my children and/or husband. It’s important that all members involved know that they are valued and cherished and if they are uncomfortable, the time together will be as well. Don’t have children wear their clothes too big. As a mother I know how important “growing into clothes” is, but for pictures, fitted is best.
3. Colors: Mixing soft prints and plaids with layers of jewelry and headbands and suspenders and scarves all makes the eye very happy with the art it creates. Textures with lots of movement photograph beautifully. Soft color palettes photograph beautifully. On the other hand, neons and fluorescents tend to “glow” and throw a color cast so can be avoided. Lay out options overlapping on the floor and look at them in natural light. Watch for certain colors or patterns that distract rather than coordinate. I’ve set up a great Pinterest board here for inspiration and suggestions on coordinating and complimentary colors to start brainstorming with.
4. Practicality: Layering is a great way to not only add warmth depending on the weather, but also incorporate the season trends. Cardigans, sweaters, scarves, hats, suspenders and leggings are all ways to simply but strategically add dimension to your photos. Consider one layer on one or only a few individuals in a color pop of your choice. If we’re in your home, I strongly encourage you to dress comfortably and naturally- leggings over dress pants, cozy t-shirts over button downs, soft cotton over blouses- let yourself relax and embrace the comfort of each other.
5. Perfectly Imperfect: Much like the “everyone wear a black shirt and jeans” trend, the days of every member standing still with a frozen grimace masquerading as a smile have passed. As a mom, it’s easy to get caught up in the expectation of “being perfect” and family photo sessions can be the ultimate of this pressure. Let’s face it. None of us are. Let go of expectations, comparisons, or some Pinterest facade and let the time set aside for family pictures be just a special time of everyone being together. Don’t be afraid to bring some treats along to make for a little smoother cooperation, do what it takes to make it an enjoyable, playful experience rather than a stressful one. What’s most important is to let your photos reflect you and your family, whatever that looks like. Throw leaves, grab donuts, go apple picking, make breakfast together, stay in bed, splash in a lake, fingerpaint, tell secrets, tickle fight … let them do, play, enjoy; embrace it all and love the stage you’re in.
My last thought on it all?
In looking back on these photos, you will remember the behind the scenes emotions. Starting the day with a knock-down-drag-out fight with the significant other or threatening discipline for ornery attitudes will not bring out anyone’s best sides.
Focus with your loved ones on the reason you are doing this.
Honestly, the best sessions I’ve ever had the privilege of capturing have not been decided by the most closely coordinated outfits or the most perfect makeup, but the ones when everyone is relaxed, prepared to play, ready to snuggle, eager to put away the phones and distractions and simply enjoy being together!
"I have perceived that to be with those I like is enough,
To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly round his or her neck for a moment, what is this then?
I do not ask any more delight, I swim in it as in a sea."
- Walt Whitman