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What to expect when you book a session with me...

When you book

Booking a family portrait session can be quite daunting, especially if it’s a new experience. Therefore I thought it best to explain all I can to help answer any of those questions you may have and to put your mind at ease.

Please take some time to read the below hints and tips to make the most out of your experience, to help walk you through every step of what to expect before, during and after your session, so you feel relaxed and prepared.

The below is in reference to family photography, but let's be honest, some of our furry friends can be our little babies too! Often same advice will apply.

What you can do before your session:

Before session

Inspiration and Expectations

Think a little bit about the types of photos you most love and the moments in your own everyday lives that you'd like captured.

Have a poke around on Pinterest if you have some time, to get an idea and let me know if anything inspires you. Feel free to share images with me before the session that you might want to recreate with your own family twist, keeping in mind, of course, that by chosing me as your photographer, your shoot will naturally fall into my style. Scheduling. Try to work the session around your normal schedule and what time is the normal time where everyone is full of beans, keeping nap and food times in mind - having your picture taken is never fun if you're hangry. Additionally, snack breaks for kids (and parents) are always welcome during sessions to keep that all important energy at a high.

Get the kids excited about the shoot

Kids are big part of your family and most likely the reason you want these photos so involve them in the entire experience, so its best to involve the kids in the process from the beginning! If they help pick what they’re going to wear, or what props they can bring, they’ll feel included and, hopefully, be more likely to cooperate. When you first tell them about your booking, it can be easier to say a friend is joining you at the weekend for part of the day. Its best not to surprise them and it can keep the session lighthearted, fun and casual – you could say “On Saturday we will be hanging out with my friend Harriet”.

Ways to help kids cooperate during the session

You don’t need to make them practise to pose or smile, as this isn’t natural and we want them having fun and laughing. If you are uncomfortable going in to this situation, they will be too. If you are stressed, they will be too. If you are excited and happy, guess what? They will be too. With this being said, in order to help, in the week leading up to your shoot, hop on to my "about page" and show them my picture. Recognising my face really makes a difference.

Make sure that they are well fed and well rested before the session.

We can take breaks during the session if needed.

Preparing children for an outdoor photo shoot

If you have an outdoor shoot planned, it’s helpful to arrive a little earlier than our meeting time so that your children can have a run around, relax, and are in good spirits when the session gets started.

This will set the session up positively, and gives them a chance to let off some steam before the shoot, rather than if you’ve just got out of the car and rushed to meet your photographer.

Preparing children for a photo shoot at home

One of the most difficult things for a child when they’re having a photo shoot at home can be seeing all of their toys, but not being able to play with them.

Before the shoot I recommend putting everything that you don’t want to be in the photographs away; out of sight usually means out of mind, and will help your child to stay focussed on what they’re doing. Of course there may be certain toys that you’d love to include in the shoot, and if that’s the case it’s no problem to keep those out.

The same goes for things like TV remotes, iPads and games; if your child is likely to become distracted by them during the shoot it can be helpful to put them out of sight.

Get your partner involved in the process

I have met many families where the dad has felt like the session is more for their other half than for them. Playing with your kids brings out anyones fun side as you only really know the real quirks and characters that make up your clan. I want to try and bring those quirks out, have the parents hiding behind a blanket to pull funny faces on the count of three to get those real snorty laughs is infectious

If he is feeling a little awkward about the idea of posing, not to worry, some of the best photos are when not everyone is looking at the camera. My methods of posing is very natural and relaxed. This is honestly just a really fun opportunity to snuggle your family!

Props

I have some blankets and boxes little ones can sit on that we can use for props, although you might want to bring your own props. Some families bring sentimental family quilts, a special stuffed animal, a favourite accessory, etc. If you have these sorts of items, be sure to brainstorm them in advance and let me know as well! If they want to bring their teddy or their cape along to the session, let them. These are details that reflect their personality and mark this time in their life; you want those captured.

Location

I highly recommend considering a more open setting like field or park if your kids are 5 and under so you can have room to run and have fun! It also helps to make sure your little ones don't feel constrained, and then get fussy.

Outfits

Outfits

I know deciding what you (and everyone else) should wear for your session can seem a bit overwhelming, but don't fear! I want this to be one of the most fun parts of the experience. Start by choosing an outfit that you feel great in! The rest is easy. I have added a few tips below on how to co-ordinate the best outfits.

Timeless, confident, comfortable and attractive clothing choices - When picking out your clothes for the session, stay on the side of comfort. You want to be wearing something comfortable but flattering and timeless that will make you want to keep that family portrait up for years to come - think Smart Caj! For a photo that stands the test of time, opt for clothes that are classic rather than super trendy. Try to avoid trendy patterns and styles that might be outdated in a year. Layering clothing is a great idea. It adds interest and makes the photo more visually interesting, like a shirt under a jumper, jacket and scarf etc.

Coordinate rather than match - Coordinate your wardrobe, but not too much. There is a fine line between coordinating and too matchy matchy. Selecting complimentary patterns, or colours (think pastels or varying shades of the same colour) are a great way to go. Choosing neutral colours is often a good place to start, then you can add in pops of colour…. think creams, very soft pastels, light browns, tans, greys, and slate blues. 

Bring some spares - in case anyone gets muddy or dirty. I love when kids interact fully with their surroundings, as a parent, you might not be too keen to let them back into your car, covered in mud and grass. Feel free to bring a change of clothes or shoes. Maybe even a towel. (You never know!) Bring a change of clothes if you want more than one look, or in case you get muddy, have a toilet accident, etc. 

Walkable shoes – we may need to go on a little walk to find various spots in our location that we can use, so I would advise wearing something comfy on your feet. If you want to wear heels, please bring some spares to walk in. Usually my photos involve a bit of play so do have a think of what to wear.

WHAT TO AVOID

  • Again, remember to co-ordinate rather than match

    • Steer clear of the traditional matching jeans and white shirts look, it tends to erase any individual personality. 

    • Random collection of colours don’t always look well together. You want to put the outfits on a bed all together and see if any of the items are slightly too distracting.

    • Clashing patterns and prints, opt for more solid colours. If you do go patterned, like a checked shirt, maybe wear a jump over it so you can still see the pattern but it’s not totally distracting. Linking the colours can also help, red tartan on one family member with another wearing a red skirt or scarf.

  • Clothing with large brand logos, motifs, characters, or graphics. They can be a bit distracting from your lovely smiling faces.

  • “Overly casual” clothing. Comfy tracky's can be for when you get home for the afternoon lull.

  • Top level bright colours, such as jumpers and coats. I once took a photo of a family where one person wore a bright green jacket. Sadly it caused a reflection on them that gave a slightly ill vibe.

  • Be careful with floral patterns as they can be difficult to match with other members of the family.

  • World War 3 – If hubby or kids want to wear their special shirt, it’s ok, just try to incorporate it in the rest of your outfits - remember the above are guidelines not rules. If it helps, get them all involved in the outfits. It’s better to work with them than making them wear something they aren't comfortable in as sadly it will show on their face and the last thing we want is frowny faces!

What you can do on the day of your session:

On the day

What to Bring to Your Session:

  • Snacks, Snacks and more Snacks for those hangry moments.

  • Baby wipes in case a tissue just won't do the trick.

  • Water for those mini breaks.

  • Hair brush for those fly aways.

  • Tissues for those runny noses.

  • And special treats when bribery is the only way forward.

So you've got the snacks, but please, leave the Cheese at home - Please, parents… leave the “say cheeeeeeese” at home. “Say cheese to the lady kids!” creates a forced, slightly manic smiles, or in some cases, totally freeze up knowing a picture is about to be taken. Asking your young children to "look at the camera to smile" will only stress them out (not to mention me!) and we don't want a batch of strained, unnatural and often unflattering photographs. By standing behind me and talking to your kids to make them laugh is a better recipe for brilliant smiles. Getting those natural giggles will help me capture the true essence of your child’s personality.

Directing children -  Feel free to tell your little ones ahead of time to be "good listeners," but please try not to be the "stop doing that" parent on the day. Told off faces are just like frowny faces. To make the best out the session, I find the art of quick thinking distraction is always best. But the absolute top helper, is you. If you are having fun, so will your children. If you are feeling anxious, often, so will your children. Plus you never know what I'm seeing through the viewfinder, so it's best to let me give direction when in group shot. If I want eyes on me or all to look at daddy pulling a silly face, it's usually because I have seen something you may not have. So please relax and enjoy your session with me - I am there to help. Most importantly: Don't worry if your kids are acting like maniacs! I promise you, I've seen it all! I love the silly, messy chaos that comes with family photography. Plus, you'd be surprised how beautiful photos can be taken even while the chaos ensues.

What to do if your child ‘has a moment’ during the shoot - It’s only natural for any parent to worry about their children having a wobble during a shoot. It’s probably quite likely that they’ll have a moment on the shoot (especially if your child is under 8). I’m expecting it to happen at some point, and if it does happen please don’t worry! I actually find that during mischievous moments I can capture lots of personality. However if your child has a full blown wobble, we can have a break, have a snack and I can take photos of the rest of the family. Often seeing others having fun and playing games,  they will want to join in sooner rather than later.

If you have a young baby or toddler then they may need a little more support from you to stay focussed. It can be helpful for you to help the photographer to keep your little one’s attention. This could be anything from singing a favourite song, or giving the photographer one of their favourite teddies to hold. Just tell me what you need me to do.

And finally, Relax! - I know, that is such an easier-said-than done but you will have everything in hand on the day, you packed the snacks, you got everyone there. Now let me worry about the rest - remember take this time to just be with your family. Letting go of expectations will take a little bit of the pressure off and help everyone to relax and just enjoy the time together as a family. Don't forget - the whole point of the session is to capture your family.

What happens after your session:

After the session

I will take the photos away and work through them to create a collection of colour corrected, individually edited, photos. I aim to get your photos to you 4 weeks post session. And will send you an email link to view your password protected gallery. You can then pick your included photos by liking your favourites. If you would like more than the included photos there is opportunity to buy photo packages, please see the booking tab for more information.

And thats it. If you share your photos on facebook or social media please do tag my site as I work through recommendations from my clients and social media exposure.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read these hints and tips, I look forward to talking to you soon.

Harriet x

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