how to prepare and get the most out of your investment for family photos

I know many of you have family sessions coming up in the next few months, and it can be a little overwhelming deciding on location and times and also putting together wardrobe for the whole fam. Not to mention session changes due to Covid-19. I have put together some thoughts on how to get the most out of your investment, whether it’s with me or another photographer. These are just my thoughts, so they may differ from other photographers, but some of the same concepts will be applicable. While these are all important points I am making, if you are short on time, at least read number 6 and 7.

[Keep scrolling to shop some great family wardrobe options].

  1. Study Up & Wardrobe Prep. While you can’t totally control whether your child has a tantrum during your session or what the weather is on the day of your session, there are a few things you can control. Wardrobe is one of those things. It has the ability to completely change the outcome of your photos and luckily, you do have some control over it. Be sure to do some scrolling on your photog’s instagram to get a feel for their desired colors and “look”. {This goes without saying, but if you don’t like any of the wardrobe choices or colors on their feed, then this photographer is probably not a good fit for you.} You might notice the blend of colors, textures, and patterns within family wardrobe. Yes, this is your photo session, and every photographer just wants their clients to be happy, but it is important to take into consideration your photographer’s aesthetic and style. Also, please don’t wait until the week of your session to start pulling things out of your closet, because you may find that you need to order a couple things (and we all know how long some things are taking to ship right now). It doesn’t mean you have to go out and spend hundreds of dollars to buy everyone in your family new things, but you may have to purchase a few new pieces to make sure every person in your family has the look or feel you and your photographer are going for. You will hopefully have these photos for a very long time, maybe even generations, so choosing the right clothing is of some importance.

  2. Communicate with your Photographer. If you have already booked a session with a photographer then clearly you love their style, colors, aesthetic, feel, etc. (Don’t book a “light, bright, and airy” photographer if you are wanting a “moody/contrasty” photographer, for example). As far as shopping goes, ask your photographer (if they haven’t already sent you some resources), where they would recommend shopping and what specifically to be looking for. I send my clients a list of stores that I recommend shopping for adults and kids, as well as a pinterest board of inspiration so that you can see exactly what I recommend as the photographer. I also have a Like to account (under influencer, search for BrittJensen), where I post wardrobe finds frequently which you can shop right from the app. If you have no idea what your photographer recommends based on their feed or portfolio- just ask them. They will guide you.

  3. Drawing Inspiration. I recommend drawing inspiration from your photographer’s feed, since their aesthetic is what you are looking for. But you can also find other photos on instagram or pinterest that you love, and see if you can take note of the posing, the wardrobe, the facial expressions, the time of day/light, and the setting. If you bookmark a photo of a family on the beach at dusk that you love, but you book a beach session at noon, you’re not going to get the same results. This goes back to communicating with your photographer if you are looking for a certain feel, to see if they can achieve certain desired outcomes. Sometimes inspirational photos can be counterproductive, because maybe for example you can’t do a photo session at 7:30 p.m. due to your child’s bedtime. So hold these visions lightly. Every session is different, just like every family is different. Celebrate that!

  4. Posing Prep. Although I capture authentic moments and interactions between loved ones, getting clients in the right lighting and position to begin connecting is important. In other words, posing is important, and with covid-19 giving most photographers no choice but to have contactless sessions, it makes guiding clients really challenging. In the past, I would physically place arms and adjust bodies as needed, but I can’t right now. This means clients should consider doing a little studying to see what looks good and then even practice it in the mirror beforehand.

  5. Prioritize. If you only get family photos once in awhile, you probably have grand plans and big expectations for your upcoming session- maybe a sunset session in a field with pretty low light, but you also have a schedule for your children that you can’t stray from, then you have to make some choices. Maybe you decide your kids can stay up late one night (and feel confident they won’t lose it) so you can have your sunset session. Or maybe you need to let go of the sunset vision because you know your kids will be melting down (please don’t expect your photographer to fix a meltdown, we are all doing our best). There’s usually something you have to compromise, whether it’s location, time of day, wardrobe, or the season. So identify your no. 1 priority for your photos and try to let everything else work around that.

  6. Connection During your Session. I know being photographed doesn’t always come naturally, I know it doesn’t always for me, and a lot of times we get tense and stiff and expect our photographers to create a perfect, magical moment for us. But the truth is, most photographers are waiting for the connection to happen between you and your loved ones. You may not know what that looks like or how to do that, but it’s actually simple. Once you are “in position” and placed in good lighting, talk to your kids. Ask them about their friends, sing their favorite songs, retell a funny story, give them a playful tickle and then hold them close. Tuck your daughter’s hair behind her ear while smiling at her. Count freckles on her nose. Lean back and smile at your spouse. Bounce your baby on your lap and breath in that baby smell while cozying up to him. Relax. These are the things you can do to create magic. You don’t have to feel like a statue (I’ve been there myself) and wait for your photographer to give you each and every prompt. Let the connections flow and enjoy these short moments together as a family.

  7. Attitude. Do what you can to prepare but ultimately know that a positive, relaxed, playful attitude on your session day is the most important thing. Make your kids feel loved, not insecure. Worry about connecting with them, not whether their shirt came untucked. If they melt down or are taking a little time to warm up, play with them, reassure them, try to avoid placing pressure on them or yelling at them. As you know, kids can sense our stress. Sometimes the best photos are taken the last 5-10 minutes of a session, once everyone is relaxed, so don’t give up hope even if a session starts out rocky. And go with the flow! At the very least, you can be grateful for this season of life you will have documented, your perfectly imperfect life.

Below are some recent finds that you can shop right here! I found some basics for mom, spouse/dad, boys and girls. Happy shopping!