1. What to wear… The most commonly asked question and it is one that is so subject to opinion. So here’s mine, stick to solids, you can sometimes get away with unobtrusive patterns, coordinate your group’s colors but don’t be too matchy matchy, keep it casual, I prefer when girls wear dresses, I generally don’t like dark colors, always steer clear of shirts with big logos. However, your style should be your guide. I always tell people to hit Google images and look at other family photography. Look for what YOU like. Maybe you are into everyone wearing kilts with pajama tops, who am I to judge. What you wear is important, do a little bit of research on your own and take care when choosing, but make sure that you choose something that suits you and your style.
2. Be Prepared… Bring kids fortified with good sleep (if possible), snacks, juice and I am not opposed to a little bit of bribery candy at times (but skip the lollipops, once they’ve got it in their mouth it ain’t coming out, and it will be sticking out of that cute little mouth in all of the photos).
3. Look at the Camera… Moms and Dads – when trying to get that shot with everyone looking at the camera make sure that YOU are looking at the camera. As a parent we have a tendency to keep checking that the kid is doing the right thing. Leave that part to the photographer. You can’t imagine how many great family photos I come across that are ruined by parents checking, primping, and the very worst, scolding their children!
4. Get your Comedy On… Come ready to make your children laugh. Arm yourself with one liners, funny faces and silly songs. If your young child has a favorite toy that makes them smile then bring it along for the photographer.
5. Speaking of Scolding… Keep your kids on a very loose leash during the shoot. As a parent myself, I know this goes against every instinct you have, but as long as they aren’t hurting themselves or anyone else, try to refrain from scolding them. There are two reasons that it’s actually okay for them to misbehave a bit on a photo shoot: 1) Sometimes what you may see asmisbehaving a photographer sees as an awesome one of a kind shot and it will definitely make you laugh when you look back on it. 2) What generally happens immediately upon scolding your child? They getmad/sullen/cry/uncooperative/parents with a migraine/photographers nightmare/you get my drift.
6. Forget the Laundry… Don’t be afraid to get dirty and/or wet. Save it for the end of course, then don’t worry about getting messy! Bring some towels and a change of clothes. Get sandy, get soaked, get muddy, and have fun doing it.
7. Get Your Goof On… Allow yourself to be silly. It can be awkward to have a camera pointed at you so you might as well be a little silly about it. Let your inner goofball shine. Being silly will loosen your family up, allow you to relax and actually, dare I say it, enjoy yourself. That is going to show through and your end result will look happy, relaxed and natural.
8. Props… Bring along your child’s favorite dress-up costume, hat, boots, the family pet, etc. Even if it seems like it would be completely out of place. A truly wonderful family photo is one that is honest and showcases the personality of your unique family.
9. The Little Dictator… That’s what we call my daughter at times. What kid doesn’t love telling mom and dad what to do? Try letting the kids take charge of the posing. Once you have gotten the more formal type photos out of the way let the kids direct. They can have fun bossing you around and you would be amazed at the fun and creative ideas they will come up with. And if it doesn’t actually work you will still all be giggling at their antics.
10. Start with Talent…and Trust Them! Well of course you need to make sure you choose your photographer wisely! Do you like the work in their portfolio? Are they prompt about getting back to you? Do they put you at ease when you speak, email or meet with them? Once you have put the time and effort into choosing someone, show up ready to trust that they know how to make you look great! Are you in Hawaii? Then come check out this fabulous Hawaii Family Photographer, I hear good things!