7 Tips For A Great Family Photo Session

Picture It: You know in the beginning of Home Alone when the family is supposed to be waking up to leave for Paris, and the parents fly up out of bed, look at each other then yell

"We slept in!!!!"

(I included a reference video in case you happen to need it.)

Only instead of leaving for Paris, you didn't get up in time to get ready for you family photo session!

<<<Cue loudly talking (or yelling) parents here!>>>

Have you ever tried to wake up sleepy Saturday morning teenagers? Maybe you have battled with a toddler who seem to have 8 arms, 2 heads, six legs, and still can't get the shirt on over their head? Then the middle child is being, well... the middle child! All while mom is trying to grab a few moments to herself between, curling their daughters hair, tying the bowtie and getting bribes ready for everyone.

Whew! Now that you are in the car, the kid's are fighting, dad is mad, which transfers to mom trying to be the peacemaker, someone already has chocolate on their face from the candy bar you told them not to eat for breakfast. Now, kids "Say Cheese"!

STOP. Think of me as your Family Photo Session Fairy Godmother.

I am going to give you a list of tips to make this a successful session

#1- CLOTHING

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~The best thing you can do is to have your clothing chosen way in advance! Another recommendation is to have them all laid out and ironed the night before. Make sure that your outfit choices are comfortable and attractive! Even more important you should ask yourself "What do my dream family photos look like?"  "Are they are soft and elegant?" If yes, the chose neutral colors with soft, flowing fabrics…. think along the lines of creams, very soft pastels, light browns, tans, grays, and slate blues.  What if you want to showcase the fun and spunky side of your family?  This can be super fun! Choose coordinating colors, you don't have to match but follow the same color schemes with bold accent colors, like shades of gray with yellow or bright red accents. Never be afraid of adding fun accessories like scarves, headbands, hats, etc. These items can add a modern twist and sassy flair to your images. Embrace the flair!~

#2- Well Rested. Well Fed. 

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~I cannot stress this enough be certain to NOT schedule your photo session around your child’s nap or bedtime.  The best time for little ones are early in the morning.  If this is a bad time for your children, talk with your photographer.  Good photographers (...like me **SHAMELESS PLUG**) will be able to shoot at any time of day by utilizing areas of open shade that will give your skin a beautiful hue, a sparkle in your eye and a genuine smile across your face. 

Now The Well Fed Portion: Do Not show up to a photo shoot on an empty stomach! Almost every family I photograph come to a photo session with breakfast, lunch or dinner scheduled at the end.  If this is your plan, be sure to give everyone a healthy snack before the photo shoot, or else it could turn into a "Snickers" Commercial.

So let's give snacks! Capeesh? Capeesh.

#3- Give yourself the gift of TIME:

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~I am talking to you Mom, (not offense dads). Moms are often the one's who are rushing around before a photo session trying to making sure that their family is dressed, presentable and picture ready, leaving her with just enough time for mascara and lip gloss.  I always encourage mothers to have their hair and makeup professionally done. I have been a hair and makeup artist for 14 years, and this is a wonderful treat for mom.  This will prepare her for her pictures, leaving her feeling pretty and confident which will assuredly reflect on the rest of the family as well.  Leave plenty of time for showers, baths, dressing, and grooming.  When a family shows up to a family photo session rushed and disorganized, it sets the tone for a rushed and disorganized session.  Give yourself extra time so that you are ready before it’s time to head out that door. ~

#4- Dear Dads, step into my office:

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~PLEASE, Please, please be a cheerful and active participant in your family photos.  I know that many dads dread the family photo session, but fathers, please understand how important capturing your family is. Especially to your wife.  These images will be left as a legacy, when your children are grown with families of their own some day. Family photos are treasured forever and they are so important for the future generations of your family.  Please, please, dads… cheerfully participate in your family photo session.  Once you see your happy wife and amazing photographs, you will be so glad that you gave this time to your family. I promise. My goal is for this process to be as quick and as painless as possible. So just go with me on this one. ~

#5- Cheese is for snacks, crackers & nibbles!

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~Look, leave the “cheese” at home. So many times I have found parents who stand behind me and scream, “Say cheese to the lady kids!” in fact does not make the kids say "Cheese". 

1. Yelling and demanding young children to look at the camera to smile will only stress your children out (not to mention me your photographer) and will result in strained, unnatural, more often than not an unflattering photograph. 

2. The best thing you can do is step back, and allow the photographer to naturally interact and talk with your children. This will then result in natural, gorgeous smiles.  The best way you can help the photographer to capture the true essence of who your child is, is by talking with and coaxing out those smiles naturally and easily.~

#6-  Everyone does NOT need to look at the camera:

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~The best photographs are often the ones where everyone is engaged or interacting with each other.  One thing to understand is that not every picture needs to have everyone looking at the camera and smiling at the same time.  If you are engaged as a family and loving on each other, your eyes will be on your family members and your smile with be natural, and we will all melt looking at it. These are the photographs that you will cherish most because they depict your family connection and your love.~ 

Last but not least, we are at No. 7. It may be the most important one of all. It is to HAVE FUN WITH YOUR FAMILY!!!! Do not be afraid to pick up your children and toss them high up in the air.  Oh, how I love when dad's give their sweet wife akiss on the check.  My heart melts when I hear a mom let her husband know how much she loves him and appreciate him for being there for your sweet family. 

Have fun. 

Laugh. Giggle. Joke. Embrace.  Kiss.  Snuggle.  Play. 

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~Doing these things will allow the photographer to capture the true, raw emotion of your family. It will capture the true beauty of your family as a whole and individually. 

Trust me when I say leave the “cheeseeeee” faces for Aunt Beatrice at the next family reunion. 

Let your photographer see who you really are, so that she has the opportunity to capture your love through her lens.

I love my job because I am welcomed into the most intimate moments in peoples lives, their families, their happiness, sadness and all the in betweens. <3 ~

~From My Heart to Yours~

Lauren Ashley