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Family photos are a special occasion, and I want to make sure everything goes as smoothly a possible! Here’s a comprehensive checklist that will walk you through every step of the portrait process to help you feel confident and prepared for your session.

Things to do before your session

  1. Plan your outfits at least a week in advance. don’t wait ‘til the last day, trust me! You want to wake up feeling relaxed and prepared, so plan these details out early. Feel free to text me photos of your wardrobe if you’re having a hard time choosing! I’m happy to help.

  2. Prepare your kids (and husband!) with laid-back, low-key references to let them know what’s happening. Tell them you will be “hanging out with our friend Kelsey!” or “going to the park to play!” and keep things fun, lighthearted, and casual. Families have shared that this tip is especially helpful if they have a particularly shy child.

  3. Make hair, nail, and/or makeup appointments before your session. Make sure your roots are touched up and you aren’t wearing chipped nail polish to your session! These are small details but we want everything to be perfect.

  4. Make sure everyone gets a good night's sleep beforehand.

How to Dress for Your Session

  1. Obviously, dress for the weather! We want everyone comfortable!

  2. Don’t wear matching clothes— no more jeans-and-matching-shirts these days! Instead, wear colors in a complementary color palette, such as earth tones and neutrals.

  3. No tennis shoes, T-shirts, or shirts with writing on them!

  4. Be careful about undergarments. While I am very experienced at Photoshop, editing out bra straps or panty lines is difficult and time-consuming. Choose clothes that properly cover your undergarments, in all types of movement scenarios.

  5. I recommend women wear medium or long dresses instead of pants because they capture movement and generally photograph more flatteringly. Short dresses will be a challenge when we do any seated photos, so keep that in mind.

  6. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes you can move in. If your dress gets suddenly too short when you bend over, or your pants are too tight to sit down in, opt for more breathable pieces. Be prepared to move!

  7. Do opt for accessories! Bowties, suspenders, hats, flower headbands, chunky scarves, beautiful flowing dresses, and skirts—these create visual interest and movement in your photos and really help the images stand apart.

  8. If you have a little girl with bright or chipped nail polish on, go ahead and remove it. Neon pink and vibrant turquoise nails will almost undoubtedly clash with your beautiful wardrobe choice, and yes, it will show up in the photos.

  9. Remind gentlemen to take bulky items like phones and car keys out of their pockets before we start snapping photos.

What to Bring to Your Photo Session

  1. Any personal appearance touchup items you might want, including things like lipstick or a hairbrush.

  2. Snacks on snacks on snacks, and if necessary, treat to bribe kiddos with! (However, it’s best not to tell kids about the treats before the session; wait until the kids start getting fatigued before you pull out a candy card! They’ll usually perk right up then!) Also, make sure the snacks/treats won’t stain lips or fingers!

  3. Walkable shoes. We will probably be walking short/moderate distances on unpaved trails, possibly with hills. Walkable shoes are a must! If you just love your wedges, bring them to change into before we start shooting.

  4. A change of clothes for the kiddos, in case anyone gets muddy or dirty. As a photographer, I love when kids interact fully with their surroundings, and I’m thrilled to photograph them playing in the water or running through the grass. As a parent, you might not be too keen to let them back into your car, covered in mud. Feel free to bring a change of clothes or shoes. Maybe even a towel. You never know!!

  5. A beer. Just kidding! (kind of!) But seriously, if a beer will loosen up hubby a bit beforehand, I totally support it!

How to Pose During Your Photo Session:

This is the most important part of this whole blog post, so be sure to read carefully!

  1. No need to ‘Cheese’! I’m chasing natural interactions and unposed moments. I strive to capture and encourage authentic expressions. No need to coax your children into fake smiles!

  2. On a related note, children around the ages of 5-10 will sometimes try to “cheese” in the photos, because that’s what they’ve been conditioned to do when they see a camera! Help me create more candid shots by interacting playfully with your children.

  3. Laugh, play, tickle, and snuggle. This is how we’ll capture the REAL moments.

  4. Not everyone has to be looking at the camera. Actually, I usually encourage my gentlemen to NOT look at the camera. (they seem to prefer that, as well!) I like to especially encourage my dads to focus on their partners and their kids.

  5. When in doubt, just smile and look at your family lovingly.

  6. Stand close together. Actually, as close as possible :)

  7. Relax, slow down, and don’t force anything. Don’t feel pressured to make everything perfect! Just be present with your family and I’ll do the rest. And don’t stress if any of the kids get fussy! ’Ive seen it all before, trust me. Just snuggle your kiddos and we can still capture beautiful images :)

  8. Expect me to move you around to different spots to capture images. The more variety we get, the bigger your gallery and the more great shots we have the opportunity to create together!

What to Expect After Your Photo Session

After your session, your work is almost done! You can let your hair down, put your feet up, and relax a little bit.

  1. After your session, I will be working hard behind the scenes to cull the best photos (eliminating duplicates, blurs, and blinks) Your gallery is typically ready within 4 weeks of your session.

  2. Look online (such as the Pinterest links I sent you!) for ideas about wall gallery displays. So, you can purchase beautiful one-of-a-kind artwork for your family

Last step to complete your portrait experience: ENJOY YOUR PHOTOS! I am passionate about printed art because then you can see it and appreciate it in your home every single day. I can’t wait to help you create something beautiful, timeless, and meaningful, just for your unique family.

And that’s it! The complete checklist for guiding you through your family photography session. Thank you for choosing me to be your trusted photographer. I can’t wait to love on your family and leave you with beautiful artwork you will love for decades to come.


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