We've all heard the stories, from that friend whose child screamed all the way through their session, or whose husband got badly sunburnt whilst out fishing the day of the shoot (except where his sunglasses sat!). But having the family photographed doesn't need to be a harrowing experience, if you just keep the following five things in mind, as you prepare!
1. Rest Up And Feed The Tribe!
Kids can be cranky and unpredictable at the best of times, but the risk of a tantrum is considerably reduced with an early night (or an afternoon nap, for the littlies), a relaxing day, and a full tummy at the start of the shoot.
So avoid partying with the cousins the night before, or doing a day trip to Rotto on the same day as the shoot. Kick back at home, potter around, rest up, and generally relax – you can burn off that energy while we shoot!
Have some afternoon tea, pack some snacks, or even a little picnic to bring along with you. Family picnics make great lifestyle based shots, and can provide a little break from the rigours of being a supermodel!
2. Prepare The Kids!
Kids (and sometimes husbands!) can feel shy, and find it hard to relax if they haven’t been told what’s going on, or briefed on the process. Tell them what we’ll be doing, a couple of days before, and then again on the day of the shoot.
Tell them it will be fun, with no prior acting or modelling experience required! We’ll be walking and talking, playing, and generally hanging out together. I’ll only ask them to smile a few times, and the rest of the time I’ll just be capturing candid moments while you all enjoy your time together – the smiles will come naturally.
And feel free to bring any comfort items that might help them relax during the session. I’m all for including Mr Squiggly Poo (the battered but much loved teddy bear), or a couple of cans of Dads’ favourite beer – whatever gets you through!
3. Provide Some Props!
Mentioned briefly on the previous page, but yes, props! They help break the ice, distract and relax the kids (and in turn the parents!), and they add variety to your images. They help me tell the ‘story’ of your family, because in most cases, they will have some meaning to you or your children.
So consider adding things like pets, favourite toys, comfort items, hobbies and interests, farm machinery, quad bikes, crops, livestock, picnics and interesting locations (eg hay bale stacks, rivers, beaches, abandoned sheds or houses) to your shoot – I will be forever grateful, because it’s hard work doing stock standard portraits!
4. Consider Your Wardrobe!
This is the big one, the question everyone asks (or should ask!). What do we wear? Generally speaking, something comfortable, which you feel good in, and will be happy to be seen in when the Grandies pull out the family photos in 30 years time. Ha! Not an easy task!
Neutral colours work best. Denim, linen, leather boots, soft greys, beige, ochre, pastels, small floral prints and subtle checkered shirts.
Avoid spots and stripes, and bright solid colours, like black, red, green and purple. Logos and brands are also best avoided, and most definately no High Vis or Dora The Explorer t-shirts please! Besides being too bright for my eyes, they will date quickly. Still sitting on the fence with flannel shirts – if hubby insists, then we’ll let it slide.
And remember, things can get dirty, so even though they might be your fave item, it’s best to leave the white pants in the cupboard. Dust will get kicked around, and bums will get damp and muddy if we sit on the ground, so choose items which wash and wear well.
And one last thing, if it’s windy, tie your hair back ladies, and bring the hairspray – flyaway hair is pretty much impossible to edit out in Photoshop!
5. Relax And Have Fun!
And finally, be prepared to relax and have fun on the day! There’s no need to tell the kids to ‘smile’ every 5 seconds - I have my own sneaky ways of making that happen. Just help them have fun, and we’ll get lots of lovely natural smiles without even thinking about it.
And if we need to stop because Bub has to be fed, or little Johnnie needs some time out, that’s OK – we’ll just take a break, or I’ll work with other members of your family until everyone is good to go again. It’s your shoot, and I can work around you.
Your family shoot is a wonderful opportunity to spend time together, away from the daily distractions of life (leave that ipad at home!). You’ll be able to wander, explore, and generally enjoy yourselves, and before you know it, we’ll be done, and you’ll be saying ‘Geez, that went quick!’
So there you go, my five tips to help you make the most of your family photo shoot, and to ensure you have a fab time, and enjoy your family photos for many years to come!