Family photos can be stressful, right? I had a conversation about this with my sister-in-law the other day and it got me thinking that I could share my best 5 tips to nail your family photos! With the right preparation and the right photographer who you trust, it should be enjoyable and fun.
I think it is important to say that to a certain extent, family photos will always be stressful. You are dealing with multiple temperaments and most likely you are trying to do it during that prettiest golden hour aka witching hour if you have kids! Throw in the fact that you are trying to have everyone look their best and arrive to the location on time, and possibly meet someone new - your photographer. The pressure is on to make sure no one is fighting, and that everyone is smiling. After many photography sessions with my own family in front of as well as behind the camera for Rachel Levingston Photography, I have seen a variety of personality types and family dynamics. I want your family photos to be a fun and enjoyable time and for you to walk away knowing we have got the goods no matter how the afternoon played out!
So here are my tips:
1. Understand that it will be stressful to a point, and that is OK! Accept this and then move on. Children feed off our energy, and this is important to remember. So if they can sense that you are stressed or on edge, they will feed on that energy and act out even more than normal. Take a moment to yourself and to let them go. I know this is sometimes easier said than done but if you go into the shoot with a mentality of ‘Im going to go with the flow and just have fun’, the photos will be more honest to who you are as a family.
2. Music is a great ice-breaker, even if it's just becomes background noise. It gets you to concentrate on something other than the lens that is dancing around with you. I am the first to say, if your kids like the wiggles I will be singing along with them.
3. Choose coordinating colours. Make sure you don't put everyone in jeans. A better suggestion is to select colours that complement each other. There was one session we had as a family and our photographer told me to choose an outfit and coordinate from there. For example, if you select a rust coloured dress for yourself, think about autumnal colours for everyone else. Here is a link to a pinterest page for just this. Keep location in mind and time of year. If at the beach in winter, remember the breeze gets cold and the kids will need layers. We as adults can handle the weather with the knowledge that it is only for an hour that I will be cold, but kids have no understanding of this, so bring the extra jumper.
4. 'Don’t worry about getting THE “perfect” shot. Some people really like and want to get that one photo where everyone is looking at the camera and smiling. There’s nothing wrong with that! But in my opinion, the more authentic shots where you are tickling your kids, laughing at your husband, or all gazing at each other are much more memorable and beautiful.
5. Help your photographer out, but also, get out of the way! I realise this sounds a bit contradictory, and it is a fine line. While I say try to relax, I don’t mean let your kids run wild. But also don’t try to control every little thing they do, because they will likely again just act out even more. So I guess it’s kinda like that old saying your mother used to tell you, “pick your battles.” And just don’t leave your photographer to do all the work to get your kid to smile, ya know?
6. DON’T be above bribes. Whatever your kids love that they don’t get often can be a special treat. I usually bring fruit snacks (for our family shoots) because I know they love them but I can give them to my kids throughout the session to keep them motivated and they (mostly) won’t interfere with the photos. But it could be a special something from Kmart or a lollipop or a special dinner, anything! Whatever you decide, just be sure you follow through!
7. Finally, don't overcomplicate things. You have chosen your photographer because you like there work and the come recommended. Trust them, and just enjoy the process!