I visited my hometown, Tallahassee, last year for the first time in many years. I was visiting for an old friend from high school’s baby shower. While I was there I took photos of another friend and her new baby...
August 3, 2022
Family photos is a big investment. It’s an investment of time and energy and emotion and money. So you want to get it right. I’ll walk you through the 5 most important steps of how to have the perfect photo session.
Duh. But this is easier said than done. There are a couple factors here. The main ones being Competence and Style.
First Competence. You really want a photographer who is going to be able to deliver. This means both technical ability and working with your baby or family. You can probably gauge technical ability decently well by browsing their website. Especially the blog. What you want to look for is consistency. A mediocre photographer can have some great images on their front page, but that doesn’t mean that’s what your session will look like. Do the photos throughout the site, instagram, blog, etc. look very similar? If so, this probably means the photographer has a good handle on what they’re doing in camera and/or with editing to deliver.
The other side of competence is working with people. This includes both during the session but also being professional throughout the process. Delivering when promised, showing up on time, and of course being enjoyable to work with. Here is where I’d read the reviews. People tend to really speak to these intangibles in reviews. With newborn photos, competence really goes beyond normal friendly interaction because the photographer really needs to be good at soothing the baby and understanding what the baby needs.
Secondly Style. Someone might be extremely competent, friendly, and produce a photo that is technically perfect but if their style isn’t something you like, you’re probably going to be unhappy with your pictures. This is really your job to figure out what it is you like and what you’re hoping for in photos and try to find a photographer who matches your style. If you aren’t sure, just message a couple photographers with what you’re hoping to find and ask if they do that.
Ok so you’ve found your photographer, now you’ve got to dress yourselves. This is not the post for me to teach you how to put a wardrobe together, just to emphasize how important it is to get right. This really goes beyond “Don’t all wear different patterned shirts.” Wardrobe has the ability to make or break photos. It changes the feel of the photos. It changes what your eye is drawn to in the photos. It can change whether the photo feels bright or moody. Consider it all. It’s all important.
This is why I provide a wardrobe for my clients. Because I know how MUCH a photo can be altered by different clothing choices. If clients feel drawn to my work, I want to be able to guarantee what what they see is what they’ll get. Even if they choose not to use the wardrobe, I provide a complimentary wardrobe consultation to help make sure everything is coordinated.
The work photography literally means “Light Writing”. Nothing. I mean Nothing. Will change the look of your photos more than light. Now different photographers will have different strategies or preferences for time of day. This will also be a bit dependent on location. But I typically like to only shoot during the first 2 hours of the day or the last 2 (for outdoor sessions). This is when the light is dreamiest. And it’s about more than just getting the “golden hour” look. The light literally flatters you. Softer more side light (like in the morning and evening) tends to accentuate attractive features (eyes, cheekbones, etc) and downplay others.
Don’t worry I’m not going to tell you “Don’t be tense” “Don’t be awkward” because of course that isn’t helpful. But plan your day accordingly. Don’t let this be the next thing on a to-do list after a stressful day. Bring little snacks/treats for kids. Make sure they’ve napped. Have a plan to go to dinner or get ice cream afterwards. Bring a backup toy. Hopefully talk with your photographer on the phone before your session about how sessions usually go. Again make sure you’re on the same page with them. Do you want mostly candid looking photos but they’re doing yearbook-style poses? Make sure their demeanor with help you be comfortable and not stress you out.
You know what is never the perfect photo session? The one that sits on your computer for the rest of your life. The one that lives in indecipherable ones and zeros. The one that is a phone background. Or a profile pic. Nope. Don’t let that be it! Get them framed. Make an album. Fill your home with your memories. Savor the “little years” and have them printed so you can remember them during the “big years”. Don’t stop at booking the session and doing the session and getting giddy excited when you finally see your photos. Order the prints.