As an Atlanta Family Photographer, I know the great sacrifice and work that it takes to plan a family session. From trying to find a photographer you trust, scheduling the session to fit around everyone’s schedules, planning out the outfits, and trying to make sure everyone will look their best, including yourself. You may also run into having to reschedule because it’s too cold, or the kids may be sick. And the day of the session you may hear your kids complain or sigh at the word “family pictures” and getting everyone ready may feel like running a marathon! But, every good thing in life comes with a sacrifice and work and that is part of life. That also separates you from doing the hard things in life, because you treasure the rewards which always pay off in the end.
But even though you’ll still be doing the work prior to the session, I help lighten that load by making the process simple and fast. I guide you through every step. From the booking process, choosing the right location for you, sending you a style and preparation guide that will answer all your questions and help you get ready for the photo session.
I am also flexible on rescheduling because besides the weather being unpredictable, life also happens. The kids may get sick or hurt, work can come up or even a family emergency. I always tell my clients that I rather us take our time to find a good weather day, but also a day when the kids are healthy and that will increase their chances at being themselves and letting their personalities shine through.
1. The first thing I do before my family sessions is get to the area early so I can do a location scouting. I do this every-time even if I have been to that same location 50 times. The reason I do this, is because I want to have a plan before the family I’m photographing gets there. I want to see what the light looks like, and I want to choose the best areas I want to photograph my family in. This also allows me the time to concentrate and and really choose the best spots for light and get creative. I normally choose 3 to 4 different areas. This allows me to switch things up and get a good amount of variety.
Another reason why I scout the area beforehand, is the sun shifts position all throughout the year so it doesn’t rise or set in the same spot. The seasons are always changing as well, so even photographing in the same location, with the sun out or hiding behind the clouds, and the constant changes in seasons, it always looks different.
That being said, even with the light and the seasons changing, my style will remain consistent. I will still choose the best light and location for my style of shooting, and I edit my pictures the same which is true to life and a style that’s timeless.
2. When I start my family sessions, I always capture the must have pictures first. The whole family together, the kids together, the parents with each kid, kids together and the parents together. That way if one of the kids doesn’t want to cooperate as much anymore, then at least I have the most important pictures done. After I take those pictures in the first area I picked, I will take my family to the next area in the same park to get a different backdrop. I will focus more on candid fun photos and repeat any of the grouping but with different poses.
3. When taking family pictures, I always let the little ones lead. As a mom of twin toddlers, I know that I can’t force my girls to take pictures, but I can encourage them. If they want to cooperate at the very beginning of the session, then I take full advantage of that and get as many pictures as I can by being efficient with time. I feel like the little ones are most likely to pay attention and look at the camera at the very beginning because I am still new to them so they are checking to see what I’m doing. Once they get comfortable with me, all they’ll want to do is go play. But I take advantage of that as well as it makes some cute candid photos as they are exploring their surroundings.
4. The older kids tend to be more mature and much more aware of the camera. It takes a little bit more work to get them smiling genuinely, but that’s why I also follow their lead. I will use prompts and see which ones work for them. Some kids tend to be more serious while others are more on the goofy side. So maybe making a goofy face will work for one kid, but not for another. It also may take them a little longer to warm up, which is understandable. Even us adults need the warm up time when taking pictures. The older ones are also more cooperative, so most of the time I can get them to listen pretty well.
5. I always try to photograph the parents together if possible. Sometimes that may not happen if the parents have a baby because they can’t leave the baby unattended or nowhere to set them down in.
Most parents haven’t had their professional pictures taken since their wedding, so it’s important to take the time and capture a picture of both of you together.
6. Once I take all the must haves and some fun and candid moments, I ask the parents if they have any other pictures they want or anything that I didn’t get that they would like and they let me know if they do. Family pictures usually last about 45 minutes to an hour depending on the size of the family or the kids tolerance for pictures.
7. I may have a plan set and you may have a vision, but we always have to remember that working with kids can sometimes be unpredictable. I have had my expectations before during my own family pictures where my girls are excited for pictures and everything is going well till the pictures start. And then all goes downhill and they don’t want to look at the camera anymore, be held, or even stay still. So if it doesn’t look like you expected it to look, and if it feels hectic, do not worry. I am still capable of getting great pictures. So I recommend that if that happens, instead of getting frustrated with your kids, start playing with them and having fun! Kids just want to play, so if we follow their lead and explore, play games, whisper sweet things in their ear, they will be more likely to listen and I can capture them being themselves with their genuine smiles and personalities!
Now you know how I photograph a successful family session and if this information sounds like you and something you want, feel free to contact me for the first step in getting you some beautiful family pictures!