How to Prepare for Your Family Session

As a mum to two small children, I know how stressful it can be to organise a family photo session. From finding the right photographer, to nailing down a date that works for everyone, to choosing coordinating outfits, and then hoping that your kids will actually cooperate on the day. The thing is, I also know that it is SO worth it! We've had family photos taken many times since my first daughter was born, and despite the stress that comes with the process, I am always in awe when we get our photos back. Even my husband, who will be the first to admit that he doesn't love having his photo taken, flips through our photo albums now and thanks me for taking the time to organise these sessions. Children grow and change so much in their first few years and these photos are a priceless treasure and an amazing part of our legacy. 

That said, today I thought I'd share a few simple tips to prepare for your next family session.

1. Decide on a location. If your children are very young, I often recommend that we start in your home and then go for a walk to a local park or beach. I find that with small kids, starting out where they are comfortable (their home!) is a great option, and lets them warm up to the whole photoshoot idea. Sometimes people worry that their house isn't Pinterest perfect, but it doesn't need to be! When you look back on your photos in years to come, images in your home will hold extra meaning to you whether your place is magazine worthy or not. I also love to do sessions outdoors, at the park or beach. I'm happy to go to your favourite location or suggest one of my go-to spots.

2. Pick a good time for light and your kids' routine. Admittedly, this one can be tricky! The best time for outdoor sessions is about 1.5 hours before sunset. Depending on the season this can be quite late in the evening, which generally doesn't work for babies and toddlers. For that reason, autumn and winter are great times of year to schedule outdoor family photos if you have a young family. But even if golden hour isn't going to work for your family, we can find a way. I've shot many families in the morning or mid-morning because that's when their kids are happiest and we always get great shots. 

3. Choose your outfits. It's a good idea to think in terms of coordinating each other, but not matching. For example, you don't want to all be wearing blue jeans and white t-shirts. But you do want to think of a colour palette, and choose colours that will fit this scheme and compliment each other. It's totally fine to wear patterns, but you do want to make sure that not everyone in the photos is wearing patterns as this can distract from the final images. You also want to avoid wearing all black or all white clothing. Too much of either tone tends not to photograph very well. Speaking of distractions, for kids you will want to steer clear of clothing with media images. I, personally, am drawn to lighter neutrals and layered textures but you have to choose what suits your style and your vision for the shoot. Make sure to set aside everyone's outfits about a week before, making sure that everything is clean and ironed if need be. With my daughters, I like to change them into their outfits at the last possible second because you never know when they'll spill something down their fronts or jump in a puddle! 

4. Consider professional hair and/or makeup. This is, of course, non-essential, but as a fairly tired mother of 2 young kids, having my makeup done by a professional makes me feel like a million bucks. And that usually leads me to feel more confident, which leads to better photos. Many stores (like Mecca) will let you redeem the cost for products purchased on the day, so it's definitely worth researching.

5. Make sure everyone is well rested, fed and hydrated. If your children are still napping, make it a priority to give them a good nap on photoshoot day. This seems obvious but you also want to ensure that everyone (not just the kids!) have had enough to eat and drink; something with a good amount of protein and healthy fat will keep you feeling energised.

6. Have fun! Once we're at our location and everyone is dressed, your work is done! I'll direct you into spots with good light and then your family can interact with each other and have fun. Tickle, hug, kiss, tell inside jokes, laugh, cuddle, anything goes! 

7. Treat yourself. I am not afraid to say that most family photoshoots involve a bribe! This is just my technique, but once our session is over we will treat our daughters to an ice cream or a hot chocolate.