From the other side of the lens – family portraits :: a 3-part series PARTS TWO AND THREE

In November I wrote a blog about getting family portraits taken. These are the last two parts of that post. Hopefully this spring these tips will help if you didn’t get a chance to get portraits in the fall. 

Since I went over communication strategies and how to prepare for the shoot ahead of time, these tidbits of wisdom will help during the actual session and then after the actual session. 

part two :: DURING THE SESSION

CONVERSATION

You have prepared and have on your clothes, your kids’ shoes are tied and you’re driving to the studio or location for pictures. Depending on the age of your children, you may want to have a fun conversation on the way there. Sharing laughs will definitely make your images more enjoyable, so try to keep conversations light when you get there.

  • While the photographer changes lenses or sets up a light, talk to them. They want to hear about your story. Tell them fun things that have happened in your family and make sure to involve the kids. 
  • Ask the photographer about their work and maybe even their family. Making it more personal helps both you and the photographer get better acquainted. This makes them want to collaborate with your family and get the best images possible (trust me).

TO POSE OR NOT TO POSE

 You never know how small children will respond to posing. This little guy got a bit distracted by a truck driving down the street behind me. Many times you won't get the smileys from everyone. And that's okay!

You never know how small children will respond to posing. This little guy got a bit distracted by a truck driving down the street behind me. Many times you won't get the smileys from everyone. And that's okay!

Photographers should be well versed in a variety of poses and they’ll help guide you. There are variables that will change with each session: the location, ages of your family members, time allotted and lighting. Sometimes you’ll be in a great pose, the lighting can change quickly, so they’ll work quickly and then move you. I’ve even been photographing a family in a park and a runner jog right into the shot. I had to wait, but I let the family know why I had stopped and just made small talk so the kids didn’t run off.

 They had a super cute pose and in two seconds, he decided he didn't like his shoe. It made for a really cute reaction shot - this is more of real life things that happen. Keep these images, these faces say it all about parenting littles.

They had a super cute pose and in two seconds, he decided he didn't like his shoe. It made for a really cute reaction shot - this is more of real life things that happen. Keep these images, these faces say it all about parenting littles.

If you have chosen a life style session with no posed shots, let your photographer know which rooms or areas you like the most. Also let them know what you like to do as a family. Be open to showing them around and letting them explore. They may see something with new eyes that you don’t always see. 

HOLDING YOUR COMPOSURE

Children can act a bit nutty during the session, here are some tips to remember and to keep your composure:

  • Bring a snack and their favorite toy. Bribery goes a long way. 
  • For babies, make sure to have food on hand (mom may need to nurse or cap them off with a bottle for a bit if the session runs long).
  • Most kids act differently in front of the camera lens if you’re not holding the camera.
  • Try not to feed into frustration if your kids act up. Don't let your temper get the best of you. Photographers should be able to deal with kids and allow them to be themselves. Let the photographer control the situation unless the child is becoming too unruly. I have clients that just let me hang out with the kids so they’re not taking over and slicking down their hair every two seconds, making the kids mad. 

One of my favorite clients has two little boys. The oldest loved me from the minute I walked in and we’re big buddies. His little brother, however, does not feel the same fondness. He’s a great little guy, he just starts crying as soon as I pick up my camera to get images of him. It’s created some of the funniest Christmas cards! At first I was going to cull the images of him crying, but his parents said they really liked them, so we kept them. That started our love for trying to get the funniest card each year. So far, I think the first one was the doozy. And it landed on the front page of my web site for over a year.

 One day we will get one without the tears … this is one of the funniest times. Real life, people. 

One day we will get one without the tears … this is one of the funniest times. Real life, people. 

part three :: AFTER THE SESSION

Follow up either the same day or the next day just to be on the same page.  This list will help you ask the right questions and prepare for anything that comes up.

  • Do you need to schedule time to review the images together? Double check on date, time and location. Ask how much time should be allotted. 
  • When will a gallery of online proofs be available? What is the duration of the gallery and can you send that link to others?
  • What is the cost of products and prints? This should have already been given to you, but you may need a refresher... or if you’ve taken a while to order, ask for an updated price guide.
  • Go over details of any deadlines with the photographer. For example, some people send out pictures when celebrating life events, so let them know when you’ll need the products in your hands.
  • Make sure to pay what you owe them. If you have an outstanding balance, pay that quickly.
  • Some photographers are more busy in different seasons than others, so don’t listen to your friends when they say they got their images in three days, four weeks or six months. Ask your photographer specifically when to expect YOUR images - both proofing and final products.
  • Learn the terminology about copyrights. When a photographer or artist creates something, it is their copyrighted original. However, if you buy a copy of the digital images from a photographer, you’re not buying the actual copyright. You can get a letter stating you have the right to make prints and products, but legally they still own the copyright and you just own a file. Some photographers don’t sell digital images, they only sell prints or products. Back in the film days, it was a rare occasion that photographers sold the negatives. I sold the negatives to my clients when I moved from Tennessee to Kentucky because honestly, I didn’t want to have to store all those negatives in the move. Again, communicate BEFORE the session to make sure you understand how they work. 
  • If you do get digital images, back them up on separate computers and also on an online gallery (either the Cloud or on a company that creates prints and products). Don’t solely rely on one backup — anything can happen. Make prints and products quickly so they don’t just become digital clutter. Ask how many years the photographer will promise to keep them on file as back up as well.
  • Remember to book early and as often as your pocketbook will allow. You will never regret the images that you get from a professional that you love working with. 

Getting to know my clients is something I truly enjoy. I love seeing you grow and change and how your relationships bloom. Find a photographer that will love your people and want you to look the best in your images. Be creative and have fun!