image credit: http://tig-fashion.blogspot.com/
I need to start off by saying that there really is no right or wrong for this post. every photographer will tell you something different, and it will fit their style of photography and (hopefully) you’re style if you’re hiring them. Some photographers urge bold colors and shocking contrasts, other’s will encourage matching, and others will want you to include props.
my style is much more whimsical, soft, airy, and dreamlike. if i could plan my ideal session it would have little girls in thin cotton and lace nightgowns, and little boys in jeans with no shirts. we would be shooting at sunset or sunrise, in a field, or by the water. they would swing on swings hung from giant oak trees, and a misty fog would lay on the ground. So, if any of you want to make that happen… i’d be more than happy to photograph it! i enjoy photographing the children the most, but of course, i love the connection between parents and their children. Newborns with their mamas in the window-light of a giant window with billowing curtains, and little boys holding frogs and lizards, pulling wagons through the field.
so, it goes without saying that when i photograph children, less is absolutely, positively, more. I know you love that giant flower headband that you just bought on Etsy to go with the Hot Pink polkadot dress, and so do I, but for me as an artist, it doesnt inspire me the way the innocence of a cotton shift dress does. And, i’m also not sure that you’re going to fully love that hot pink polkadot dress on your living room wall in a giant frame. if it doesnt say ‘timeless’ to you, it might not be a good choice for the investment you make in quality photography.
It’s important, during these sessions, that we let the child guide the session. if you find beauty in childhood, you’ll find beauty in the dirty mouth. in drinking out of the hose. in blowing bubbles and not worrying about the soap getting on his shirt. you’ll be ok with him picking up a frog. these Childhood sessions are my favorite, more than any other type of photography. it is true, and it is real.
my style choice changes a bit when i photograph the family all together, with Dad included. i still like to stay timeless, but Ethereal and whimsical sort of fall to the side and leave a bit more room for style and fashion. full family sessions become a bit more editorial and a bit less documentary.
we did our own family shoot this year with the fantastic Esther Louise, and this is what we decided to wear. little punches of color and pattern in the boy’s clothes, and a little mix of bohemian and classic (to match our personalities).
The biggest myth i can bust here is that you DO NOT NEED TO MATCH. actually, please, dont. it is so fake and contrived, and as a photojournalistic photographer i’m doing my best to keep it real- i just cant with matching outfits. coordinate, sure, but don’t match.
ladies, i love flowy dresses- you can read all about my obsession and get fabulous ideas in this post. Fellas, stay in the same style genre as your wife, if she’s a little dressy, you should be too. if she’s going a little vintage, dont go all ‘sporty’. actually… try not to go sports at all. unless we’re doing a session with you and your son on the baseball pitch, lets leave the baseball hats and the logos behind.
If you’re looking for what clothes to wear check out polyvore.com and pinterest.com for inspiration. figure out the style of session you want to do (urban downtown? country field? seaside?) and then pick a color pallette with at least 3 tones and incorporate textures, patterns, and accessories that fit the feel of the location, and your own personalities. check out this post for some of my favorite inspiration boards.
- Do stay in the same style group together. If you’re going formal, you all need to be formal and likewise for casual.
- the attire should match the location. very rarely does a form fitted feminine business suit fit the style of a country road and golden sun filled field. of course, rules are meant to be broken, but only carefully with thought. better to have bohemian in bohemian, and formal with formal. if you’re going for a theme (say, a retro Pan-Am feel at an airstrip with some old Cessnas) your attire needs to not only match the era, but also the location.
- Dress for the weather. there is no sense in having a well planned outfit but having the children freezing and unhappy during the shoot. it will show through in the photographs and there is nothing i can do for that. have backup outfits ready for cold weather.
- If you want to retain some cohesiveness without being matchy-matchy, set a color pallet and pick clothes from that with different textures and patterns. Textures, patterns, and layers give interest to your shoot just as those same elements give interest in interior design.
- De-stress beforehand, even if that means having a glass of wine. the kids can read your level of stress and will act accordingly.
- Flowy dresses are always a big bonus- anything that shows movement will translate beautifully to photography.
- Do get hair and makeup professionally done- it makes such a huge difference in how you feel during the shoot and the final product afterward.
- have snacks for the kids ready, and make sure they get a good nap in. that goes for you too, they can read your stress.
- Trust your photographer, and the locations I have scouted. Remember, it’s all about the light, then the connection between you all, and very lastly, the location. A boring parking lot can be completely transformed once you step into the best light.
- Give me some space when i photograph the little ones. hovering parents saying “smile honey! smile!” does not help, no matter how much you want it to. i will only stop when i know we’ve gotten great images, so you need not worry. and besides, the very best images are not when they are smiling at the camera.
- only bring props that you feel are intrinsic to you as a family and that are interactive. props that are not able to be interacted with (like her baptism outfit from 3 years ago, or the basket you’ve been weaving) may not translate into photography as well as, say, the radio flyer wagon your kids love and can pull them through the field. the quilt you made for them when they were babies that you all love to wrap up in. the swing hanging from the giant oak tree in your yard, her favorite babydoll that she sleeps with every night, or his toy plane he loves to zoom over his head. You get the idea- but the main objective is to photograph the love and connections in your family, not the items in your life – unless they relate directly to your love.
- Don’t put off shopping until the last minute and wear your clothes for the first time on your shoot. You want to know what you can and can not do in them. If you feel restricted, it might not be the best choice. We’ll be having fun during your family shoot, and you might be spinning your children around, running through a field, or dancing in the street.
- Your shoes will be shown in photos, so don’t forget about that style!
- Sometimes less is more- but that doesn’t necessarily apply to clothing! The less skin exposed the more we focus on your faces and the connection between you all, and the more timeless your photos will be.
- Don’t leave tags on- the less time I spend photoshopping out stray tags, the sooner you will see your images. a photographers worst nightmare is hearing “but you can photoshop that, right?” from their clients.
- Dont be late. We are on no one’s time but the sun, and when that sun sets, it’s all over. so unfortunately, sessions can not be extended, and the time you loose will have to be forfeited. better to be early than late!