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Family Portraits — Are You Ready?

Let’s face it . . . family photo sessions can be challenging . . . not only for your family, but sometimes even for me!  So, I thought that this might be a good time to give you a few tips BEFORE your session so that you will get the most of your photography experience with NightinGail Photography.

Choose Your Clothing Carefully

Have your clothing chosen well in advance and make sure that your outfit choices are comfortable and attractive.  Stop and think . . . what do your dream family photos look like?  Are they “soft” and “elegant” — then choose neutral colours with soft, flowing fabrics . . . think creams, very soft pastels, oatmeals, light browns, tans, grays or slate blues.  Or do you want to showcase the fun and spunky side of your family?  Then coordinating colours (but not matchy, matchy) with bold accent colours, like hues of gray with yellow or bright red accents.  Adding fun accessories like scarves, headbands, hats, socks, etc., can add a modern twist and sassy flair to your images.

Be Well-Rested and Well-Fed

Be sure NOT to schedule your session around your child’s nap or bedtime.  The best time for lighting is the two hours before sunset and very shortly after sunrise.  If this is a bad time for your children, chat with me.  I am able to photograph at most times during the day by using “open” shade at your location.  This will give your skin a beautiful tone and put a sparkle in your eyes.  Do not show up for a session on an empty stomach.  Often, families arrive with dinner plans made for after the photo shoot.  If this is your plan, please make sure that everyone has eaten a healthy snack (no sugary treats) before the session begins.

Leave Plenty of Time to Get Ready

Moms are often running around before a photo shoot, making sure that their family is dressed and ready.  I always encourage “the mom” to have their hair and makeup done professionally.  This will prepare you for your pictures and when “mom” is feeling pretty and confident, this reflects on the rest of the family as well,  Leave lots of times for showers, baths, dressing and grooming.  When your family shows up for the session rushed and disorganized, it sets the tome for a rushed and disorganized session.  Give yourself extra time so that you are ready before it’s time to head out the door.

Dad — Be a Cheerful Participant

I know that many dads really dread the family photo session, but fathers, please understand how important capturing your family in photographs really is.  These images will be left as a legacy, when your children are grown up with families of their own.  Family photos are treasured forever and they are so important!  Please, please, please, dad . . . cheerfully participate in your family’s photo session..  Once you see your happy wife and amazing photos, you will be so glad that you gave this time to your family!

Man holding son up in air at cottage on Drag Lake, Haliburton, ON

Cheese is for Crackers!

Please, please, please parents . . . leave the “cheese” at home.  Cheese is for crackers.  So many times, I have found parents standing behind me screaming “Say cheese to the lady!”  Yelling and demanding that young children look at the camera will only stress out your kids (not to mention — ME!) and will result in strained, unnatural and often unflattering photographs.  Step back and let me interact with your children which may include talking and playing with them.  This will result in natural, gorgeous smiles.  Help me out by chatting calmly with your child to bring our his/her personality and coax out smiles naturally and easily.

Have fun with your Family

Don’t be afraid to pick up your kids and toss them in the air (if they like that!).  Give your wife a sweet kiss on the cheek.  Tell your husband how much you love him and appreciate him for being there for your family.  Have fun!  Laugh, giggle, joke, embrace, kiss, snuggle, play.  Doing these things will allow me to capture the emotion and true beauty of your family.  Leave the stiff “cheese” faces for Aunt Mary at the next family reunion.  Show me who you really are, so that I have the opportunity to capture your love through my lens.

Bring an Activity that you enjoy doing together as a Family

My most successful family sessions have incorporated an activity that the family loves to do together.  This gives you the opportunity to do with your hands and feet, engages the little ones, and brings an authentic smile to our face.  Do you love to read together?  Bring some books.  Is your favourite dessert ice cream?  Bring some ice cream bars or drumsticks to your session.  Love to play board games or cards?  Place a round or two during your photo session.  Other ideas could include:  football, soccer, races, hiking, singing, picnics, tubing . . . the list is endless.  When families are engaged in doing something they love together, I will have the opportunity to take some beautiful and authentic photographs.  (I LOVE photographing from a boat!)

No.. not everyone has to look and smile at the camera at the same time

The best pictures are often ones where everyone is engaged or interacting with each other.  Understand that not every photograph 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 will be natural.  These are the images that you will cherish most because they depict your family connection and your love.

I try to educate my clients so they know what to expect during their family photo session.  By being prepared ahead of time, it results in a more successful shoot and in the end, gorgeous, timeless images that my clients will treasure for a lifetime.




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