By: Lauren Walters
Family photos are one activity many families dread. What's meant to be a fun, memorable event can quickly become a stressful, panic-inducing nightmare. Here are some tips from PPA family portrait photographers to help your family take beautiful photos.
1. Find the Right Photographer
In addition to reviewing a photographer's online portfolio, pricing and policies, also look at their social media pages and customer reviews on third party websites. If you want a large portion of your session to be in black and white, then find a photographer who loves black and white too. If you want a natural, candid session with minimal posing find a photographer whose existing work reflects that. Don't waste time and energy hoping that the photographer will understand your vision, rather, find someone whose work communicates that.
2. Plan Ahead
All too often people spend the day(s) before their photo session running around to the dry cleaner, hair stylist, and novelty stores for last minute purchases and props. Instead, plan the look you want a few days before. Have everyone try everything on beforehand to ensure they have socks and the desired hair style/length. Your kids and spouse will feel your stress, so prep ahead to reduce it as much as possible. It is often hard for families to recover from a day of being nagged, so setting expectations ahead of time and knowing that the attires will work great is an immense plus. It will help even more if you spend time enjoying yourself and your kids a few hours before your session. Your kids and photographer will thank you and the images will reflect your wonderful family dynamic.
3. Select Color Themes
Instead of looking for top-to-bottom looks for everyone in your family, look in each closet for color themes. For a soft, elegant look, choose neutral colors with soft, flowing fabrics. Want to showcase the fun and spunky side of your family? Choose coordinating colors with bold accent colors to complement each other (but not matchy, matchy which would make you compete with each other). Including fun accessories like scarves, headbands, hats, etc. can add a modern twist and sassy flair to your images.
4. Talk to Your Kids Beforehand
Kids are smart and they love feeling big and informed. Tell them a "professional photographer" is coming over. Show them the clothes they will be wearing, involve them in the discussion of what you will be doing and where you will be doing it. New people and places can be unsettling to kids especially to toddlers melting down in the afternoon hours. So do what you can to turn your photographer into a new friend familiar to your kids before the session.
5. Decide on a Reward
Bring your kids' favorite toys or treats and give them to your photographer to use when he or she needs to get their attention. But don't overuse them or they'll lose their magic. Kids need far less prompting and are much better at candid expressions than adults. If you've been needlessly bribing them then, as you know, it loses its magic. If the photographer gets the say if your family goes for frozen yogurt afterwards, your kids will be far more apt to cooperate.
6. Feed Everyone Beforehand.
Pick a time when your kids are usually well behaved. If they're grumpy in the morning, don't plan a morning photo shoot and expect them to be pumped about it. Bring their favorite snack as long as it's not messy and they can eat it hands-free (no red teeth or chocolate chins needed!). But bring an extra set of clothes and some paper towels just in case!
7. Trust Your Photographer.
All too often parents get nervous when their child isn't looking at the photographer or smiling "right", causing their child anxiety and robbing the photographer (and themselves!) the chance for candid portraits. Seasoned family portrait photographers know how to make your children feel comfortable so let them work their magic. After all, you're paying them to create just that, right?
Remember: Anyone can take a good picture every now and then. But your kids grow up fast and before you know it they leave for college. Memories fade. So trust a pro; See the difference PPA photographers make and find the right photographer for YOUR family at PPA.com/SeeTheDifference/Family.