How to Keep Your Cool Before, During and After Your Family Photo Session

Tampa Bay Family PhotographerHow to keep your coolHow to plan, prepare and get ready for your family photography session, plus tips on how to get those natural smiles during the session and how to relax while waiting for those gorgeous images!

Does the thought of family photos freak you out? 

Have thought about getting your family photos done lately? Then the anxiety hits; how to get everything ready, how to keep your kids from acting like fools and telling fart jokes, what to do with all those images after the session is over. Just the thought of it makes you loose your cool.

I have been there.

Going shopping for the perfect clothes that match, but are not too “matchey”.  Begging and/or bribing everyone in the family to pretend they like being there (even yourself), searching for that perfect location with the pretty trees, then praying the baby doesn’t fall asleep on the way there (because nothing is more fun than a 2 year that just woke up from their nap). Oh the stress, the thought of how you will look in pictures, the hassle of getting the whole family dressed and presentable. Let the nightmares begin now, right?

I have been there.

I know exactly how all of this feels. A few years ago I hired a fantastic photographer to update my own personal family photos. Pictures that would actually have all four of us in the frame together, at one time! It started out innocently enough. I had a few clothes items all picked out for my daughter, just needed to get a few things in line for the rest of us. Easy right? Well evidently brown wasn't "in season" that year, grey was, so finding matching pieces for her brown and pink dress was torturous for this non shopper. Like tear my eye out with a spoon torture. 

I picked the perfect location. A half mile hike through chest high weeds and while gorgeously representing true Florida landscape it was a place that as a family we never really go, it had no meaning to us. Moments before walking out the door I freaked out at my husband and we had a break down yelling fight. Always good times and make for happy loving pictures. Then just as I grabbed my keys, my son looked at me and said “Mom, I have to poop”. I am not even exaggerating.

Now for complete honesty, that photographer did a great job, I mean a really top notch job. Can you tell that I had called my husband childish names moments before getting out the car? No, but you know what, that’s what I remember when I look at those images. I remember the stress and anxiety of the whole situation. Sure I look at those gorgeous pictures and see my happy family, but I remember how unhappy we were, and how relieved I felt when it was over to be honest. Did we still have fun, you bet, but the stress leading up to it, not so much fun.

http://www.deesvintagephotography.com/My Family Photos My own family a few years ago

 

Fast forward to this year’s family photo session.

This year I hired a fabulous documentary photographer out of Leesburg. I wanted images to hang on my walls that filled me with joy when I looked at them, that had real context and soul to them. I wanted my real life plastered around the house for the kids to look at as they grow up. Pictures of what our life is really like; the mess, the joy, the tears, the smiles, and the things we do as a family in places that we really enjoy.

I didn’t buy new clothes, just put on stuff that made me feel good in them. We scheduled the time around nap times when I knew everyone would be happy, and best of all, we didn’t have to leave the house. She came to us! There was no bribing the kids (or the husband) with treats for smiles and good behavior; we were all able to act just as silly as we normally do.

And something special happened

We got real smiles, real hugs, real life captured beautifully.

So let me give you some tips on how to keep your cool before, during and yes even after your family documentary photography session.

 

Before

  • Think about hiring a documentary photographer. Someone that can capture your real life beautifully and then will help you turn it into art to hang on your walls.
  • Sit down with your photographer and plan with them how your session will play out. Talk about what type of activities and places you want to document so you have game plan of exactly how the session will go and what your expectations are. Being prepared really helps relieve that stress.
  • Wear clothes that make you feel good, they don’t have to be new or match your décor (I mean if you are into that, go for it), don’t feel like you have to do this.
  • Let the kids be kids, tell the husband to relax and just enjoy time with his kids (and this goes for you too)

During

  • Relax, I mean it, just take a deep breath and enjoy your family time. Play with your kids, kiss you husband, pet the dog, just be you. Sure it might feel awkward at first, but that feeling will dissipate quickly, I promise.
  • Don’t worry about looking at the camera and smiling, same with the kids. Have trust in your photographer to get those moments. That is their job, not yours.
  • Let go, I mean it, just let go. Then read that first point again.
  • If you touch your husband every time you are close to him, then do it, but if you are not that lovey type of couple, don’t force it.
  • Did I say relax? Yes the kids are going to act crazy at first, its ok, they will settle down. They always do ;)

After

  • Don’t fret about what the images look like and what you look like in them. My favorite images of myself are me with my kids. I only see the love and happiness between us, not the extra 10 20 lbs I have gained.
  • Meet with your photographer and let them help you decide what images should go where and how big (with in your budget) and how to arrange them. Most have these awesome programs that will allow you to visualize how the images are going to look up on your walls.
  • Take all the printing worries off your hands. Let your photographer do this for you. I promise they are going to deliver archive worthy products for you to cherish years down the road.  I know that I have products that fit every budget type.
  • Then share your pretty pictures with the world. Most photographers give you some way to share your beautiful life on social media. I offer a great blog post that tells your story, but some offer social media ready files as well.

 

Now that you have read all these tips, let me tell a little more about my story from my family photos this year (and show off lots of them). I had these beautiful dreams of a golden light session of me and the family playing in our favorite place, our little slice of heaven down at the creek. This is a spot that we go play at probably 3 nights a week. We take our little golf cart, a cooler of drinks (beer) and just chill out. It’s our happy place.

My poor photographer got stuck in traffic. Not a little stuck but like 2 hours stuck (I am not even kidding). It was the coldest day of the year, grey, over cast and just plain blah outside. I had built up all these expectations of how our session was “supposed” to look and I could see those dreams slipping down the drain. I forgot all those tips I mentioned above.

Then I took a deep breath

I remembered that photo sessions to me are more about the real moments, true life and the love and joy between me and my family. That it doesn’t matter if the sun is shining, we are still going to have fun as a family. I relaxed, remembered that I have faith and trust in my photographer and that she will capture my family just the way we are. That is exactly what she did!

Looking back at those photos now, I remember the fun time we had playing in the cold water, how much I really adore my husband and kids, how perfectly imperfect my life really is.  She captured things that I don’t see day in and day out when I want to strangle my children. She captured our beautiful story, and I am eternally grateful to have these memories to share with my grandchildren in 30 years!

 

Documentary Photography, Lithia, FL My Family PhotosImages from my own documentary session. Documentary Photography, Lithia, FL My Family PhotosImages from my own documentary session. Documentary Photography, Lithia, FL My Family PhotosImages from my own documentary session.

I Love our little garden of eaten. It was just about over for the winter garden, but there where a few cherry tomatoes still hanging around 


Documentary Photography, Lithia, FL My Family PhotosImages from my own documentary session. Documentary Photography, Lithia, FL My Family PhotosImages from my own documentary session.

Gate climbing is a must learn skill around our house! 

Documentary Photography, Lithia, FL My Family PhotosImages from my own documentary session. Documentary Photography, Lithia, FL My Family PhotosImages from my own documentary session. Documentary Photography, Lithia, FL My Family PhotosImages from my own documentary session. Documentary Photography, Lithia, FL My Family PhotosImages from my own documentary session. Documentary Photography, Lithia, FL My Family PhotosImages from my own documentary session. Documentary Photography, Lithia, FL My Family PhotosImages from my own documentary session. Documentary Photography, Lithia, FL My Family PhotosImages from my own documentary session. Documentary Photography, Lithia, FL My Family PhotosImages from my own documentary session.

I love this series. Every trip back from the wet muddy creek this is where we stop first to peel out of wet dirty clothes. Those kids have taken more than one bath in the deep sink in the corner. 

Documentary Photography, Lithia, FL My Family PhotosImages from my own documentary session. Documentary Photography, Lithia, FL My Family PhotosImages from my own documentary session. Documentary Photography, Lithia, FL My Family PhotosImages from my own documentary session. Documentary Photography, Lithia, FL My Family PhotosImages from my own documentary session. Documentary Photography, Lithia, FL My Family PhotosImages from my own documentary session. Documentary Photography, Lithia, FL My Family PhotosImages from my own documentary session. Documentary Photography, Lithia, FL My Family PhotosImages from my own documentary session.

 

These images totally tell the story of our crazy, wet, muddy life. It's not all sunshines and rainbows around here, but it is our life and we love it! 

 

Are you thinking about inviting a photographer into your home to capture all those real life moments? 

Want to know more about what documentary photography really is? CLICK HERE to find out! 

How about some cool ideas to plan out your next family session? Start here with 50 Fun Activities To Plan Your Next Session. The best part about this list is that any of these ideas will work great for both a snippet session or put them together for a "chose your own" all day adventure! Want to know more about what the investment will be and how the process works?  Click right here

(Portrait Family Session Thanks to Deanna at Dee's Vintage Photography

(Documentary Session Thank to Cheyenne at Cheyenne Rose Photography)


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