Spilling all the details on how to make the most of your photos!
A NOTE ABOUT THIS GUIDE
I am so thrilled to be working with you and am counting down the days to your session! It’s perfectly normal to have some jitters about getting photos taken. Honestly, I still get the butterflies before having our family photos taken too – and I do this for a living! I totally get it. I put this guide together to help you get the best results! I’m going to take great care of you and am here to help every step of the way.
I am thrilled you pulled the trigger (Seriously just imagine the MAGIC we are going to create together!). Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your trust in me. It is an honor to create one of the integral parts of your family’s legacy.
Please carefully read the topics I will cover, they will help you get the most spectacular photos ever!
I know such an extensive guide can be a little overwhelming upon first glance… BUT believe it or not, “simple” is our key word! (You’ll see as you read). Most of my clients are attracted to the very specific and unique look of my work (and now I’m blushing over here). Hopefully you feel the same! I created this guide as a resource because I do need some of your help to achieve this look. I’d be in heaven if you read the helpful tips here, and as always, please reach out to me if you have any questions at all!
Before the big day
Are you ready for some good news? You really don’t need to do much! Besides outfit selection (which I cover in this guide), all I ask of you is to enjoy your experience. After all, the best part of appreciating the photos on your walls is knowing you had an awesome time getting them taken.
I’m SO excited. Have I mentioned that yet?…
In case of bad weather
I will keep an eye on the forecast the week before our session. It can change quickly… in either direction! If the forecast is sketchy there is always a bit of a gamble with whatever choice I make, as the weather can change on a dime. However, I will try to make the best decision based on my professional experience and let you know if we will need to reschedule (I will try to do this before you would begin getting ready!). The most important thing to me is the lighting outside. Even if it’s not raining but the clouds are too dark, we will need to reschedule. Dark clouds make for unflattering shadows, and of course the possibility of rain is no fun when you just spent so much time on everyone’s hair! If this happens, will proceed with the backup date we chose upon first booking.
Gum, transition lenses and spray tans…
All of these are cool. Just… not so much when it comes to photos ;). Gum shows no matter how much you think it won’t (hiding it behind your teeth can’t last for every shot), transition lenses look like sunglasses (we want to see those beautiful peepers!) and even if a spray tan looks ammmazing in person, it really throws off the skin tones that I absolutely pride myself in capturing. Your natural skin color is the BEST!
If you wear glasses and have transition lenses, you can either remove the glasses altogether for the photos, or if they are an integral part of your look, you can change them out for a pair with traditional lenses. I will try my best to minimize the glare so we can see those gorgeous eyes!
WHAT IF I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO?
I think most of us feel this way at heart. Luckily not only are my sessions extremely relaxed, but I fully guide you and your family into poses and give you prompts so you can have moments of genuine laughter and fun together. Often you won’t even realize how amazing a moment is and I sneak a photo (such as the example photo here).
I’m here to see the beauty in what seems like ordinary moments.
It is one of the best and most fulfilling parts of my work.
Is there anything more gorgeous than an expectant mother? Not in my opinion.
I love maternity sessions, and want you to know that your comfort is my #1 priority. You are welcome to bring along your significant other and children to your session if you wish,… or we can focus on just you in all your gorgeousness!
For maternity sessions (as well as newborn), I remain flexible in scheduling due to the unpredictable nature of delivery. I don’t want you to worry a bit about that – I’ve got you covered. All you need to do is focus on taking it easy and making sure you get regular foot rubs, ok?
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The day of the session
Just a few things to keep in mind…
1. Please plan on arriving ten minutes before our start time, or even earlier if you plan on getting the kids dressed after you get there. It also gives you a little cushion in case you hit a snag. Unexpected things happen on photo day – hair doesn’t cooperate, traffic gets crazy, you have to run back because you forgot something (or is all of this just me?).
If you give yourself extra time you will be extra relaxed!
2. Don’t discipline the kids. Ok, ok, hear me out on this. I’m not telling you how to parent ;), BUT… for just the time we have together, pretty please don’t worry a single bit about your child’s behavior. Sometimes kids can sense that they are about to do something out of the norm (I mean, how often does your whole family get dressed up and head out to a field, amiright?), and they may get extra silly or start acting out. I totally understand you want them to be on their best behavior because I would feel the same with my kids! …but in the spirit of just having a relaxing, fun experience (and getting good photos!), it works the very best if disciplining is paused during the session. More often than not it backfires anyway and the grumpy faces stick around longer. For what it’s worth I rarely see this but I just wanted to plant a little seed that you don’t have to worry about being “the bad guy” for the time we are together (hooray! Enjoy the vacation!).
I have a “bag of tricks” that usually works if a child is having challenges. Also, if it is a full session (as opposed to a mini session), we have plenty of time to give them the pauses they need. I can stop and walk with them, talk with them, ask them about their favorite stories, shows, or toys. Worst case scenario? They stay grumpy and you will get some pretty entertaining photos. Some of my long-time clients’ favorite photos are of the famous “melt downs” and hang proudly on their wall. So yeah, don’t worry mama. We will get some great stuff.
The biggest piece of the pie
Here we go! Depending on who you ask, this tends to be either the most stressful or the most fun part of the whole process (although I’m SO here to help you).
It’s outfit time!
One of the analogies I use to describe photography is with… baking. (Yes, you read that right!) There are many photographers out there who have all kinds of different styles. It’s like a bakery where you are choosing which cupcake you want. Well, I am honored you are choosing mine! Here is your part of the recipe we need so we can make the exact flavor you have chosen. I have a favorite style and strive to be consistent with my images so you know exactly what kinds of photos you will be getting from your session (dreamy, light, airy, classic, timeless, and glowy… if I do say so myself!).
So let’s get baking.
THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON YOUR PHOTOS-
Light colors and patterns: the “overall aesthetic”
A photographer’s best friend is light. Light is my “paint,” if you will. I use it to get a very specific look. When you wear light clothing, the sunlight bounces around, reflects back onto your face and anyone who is around you, creating a beautiful glow. It flatters your skin – making it creamier, and hiding flaws. It also helps create the overall aesthetic of the photo.
Another reason I highly recommend light colors is that sunlight combined with vivid colors (such as really bright blues, neon yellows, etc) will make for an unnatural color cast on your skin. With the lighting I use, if you are wearing bright green and it reflects back onto your face (…and it will….) it can make you look slightly sick and we don’t want that! I want to make sure your skin looks vibrant, healthy, and true to color.
My aim when it comes to clothing, is to have it NOT distract from your faces and expressions! I want the focus to be solely on those dimples in your baby’s cheeks, your son’s freckles, your daughter’s beautiful brown eyes. When you are wearing simple and timeless clothing, the attention isn’t drawn to your clothing… but to those amazing features I just mentioned. This is a great thing! When you wear busy patterns, it competes for that attention and your eyes are naturally drawn there.
THE “SQUINT” TEST
When in doubt about a pattern, do a “squint test” – just look at it, squint your eyes, and if the clothing item looks like a solid color or close to it, it’s good to go! If it still looks pretty busy and patterns can be easily distinguished, it’s better to go with a more delicate pattern. Here are some examples of bright colors and busy patterns.
I talk about “overall color aesthetic” (or “color palette”) a lot. Your clothing color takes up a lot of the space on the 2D surface of the photo, and the colors you choose make a big impact. At the end of the day, these photos are for YOU and go on your wall! They get passed down to your family and while I’m the one creating them, they are yours to enjoy in the most special of ways.
If you still, through-and-through, prefer a bit more vibrant color, that is completely up to you and I’m still SO happy and honored to be the one to take your photos! These are just my tips, but always continue to be true to you and what you want!
-for the ladies-
When the ladies wear dresses, it really helps create that timeless look. I highly recommend maxi’s for mama’s! The floor length flatters and adds to the beauty. When a little breeze flutters by, it helps create motion in the photo. (wearing dresses is NOT an absolute must, but it really does help create the aesthetic you often see in my work!). If it’s cold outside, I recommend bundling up for sure. Don’t worry about wearing a dress if it’s too cold! Clothing colors matter more than clothing styles at the end of the day.
For little girls, you can go very simple! Just a solid colored, plain dress can be perfect. You can also add texture with sweaters, boots, bows, etc.
HAIR & MAKEUP
While it isn’t 100% necessary, feel free to go all out! Professionally done hair & makeup stand up to the “test of time” nicely, and if there is humidity or wind, it is a great decision.
With the settings I use to shoot, pretty please go a shade or two darker with your blush and lipstick than you usually do (these things will photograph lighter than they look in person). Not heavy! Just a *tad* darker. Feel free to put a little bit of blush on your kiddos as well if you think they need it!
SHOES (OR NOT)
Anything neutral, light and/or NOT distracting works! In the Summer, I love kiddos in bare feet if the terrain allows. As for babies who can’t walk – if it’s warm enough, let’s see those cute toes! If it’s cold out, neutral boots are adorable, or just about anything as long as it’s not a bright color. If mom is wearing a maxi dress, often times we won’t be able to see those shoes so no pressure there. When all is said and done, I just want to make sure the shoes don’t attract too much attention. We want that attention going to your faces!
I’m not big on tons of elaborate props (I like to keep the focus on your beautiful faces!), but I’m ALL for a meaningful prop or two in a select handful of images; especially florals! If you bring flowers I will get a big, awkward smile on my face that might be hard to erase.
WHITE VS. CREAM
First off, this is just a suggestion and not the end of the world, but… clothing that is cream or ivory, photographs white. Clothing that is WHITE-white, photographs blue(ish)! Cream clothes are softer on skin tones and luckily easier than ever to find…(this hasn’t always been the case!). So if you can, go with cream.
*The exception to this is if you are using a lot of gray in your clothing! Grays and whites go better than grays and cream! Think cool tones vs. warm tones.
-for the fellas-
KEEP IT SIMPLE!
For the fellas, SIMPLICITY is the best bet! For shirts, I recommend a button-up dress shirt (rolled up to the elbows if the temperatures allow! It helps create a dressy, but not stuffy look). I would avoid polo shirts, at least for my particular style.
For bottoms I highly recommend keeping them light. This can make a HUGE difference in the photo aesthetic. Khakis, tan pants or light gray will work. If you’d like to go the denim route, make them very light. I discourage dark pants (black, navy, dark brown, etc.) because of the contrast it creates with other light colors. Your eye will go right to it!
*Adding layers and textures by way of blazers, suspenders, vests, etc. is always a good idea as long as the colors stay muted.
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When to Expect Your Images
Well, ideally you get back in the car and say, “Wow, did we really just take photos or just hang out?” Or… “She was the best. Kerri for President.” Actually, I will probably make you promise to go out for ice cream afterwards and continue the fun. (P.S. Your kids will sleep REALLY well that night!)
On my end I will come home, give my own kids some hugs, and then start downloading your photos. From there I will need two weeks to properly go through the images, weed out multiples and blinks, and then edit them in my specific and unique style. Two weeks after the date of your session I will send you an email with a link to your gallery. From there you will be able to view your photo proofs and make selections for your order!
And remember… I’m here to assist you in every step along the way.
SOME PARTING WORDS
…. At the end of the day, my greatest wish is that you, your children, and grandchildren ADORE these photos forever. After all, your family is what life is ALL about, and one of my greatest joys is that I get to be a small, behind-the-scenes part of preserving your legacy.