Last week I took a spin in front of the professional camera of friend Briana Moore. She did such a spectacular job capturing Andy, Eddie and I just as we are. When you flip roles you naturally learn things on the other side of the camera.
All photos are courtesy of Briana Moore, follow her travels on Instagram where there are big moves on the horizon.
1. As a personal choice, I knew looking at the camera wasn’t a priority for me. Of course for my clients I try like heck to make it happen but I’m quite happy with this photo where I’m not looking at the camera and I’m not even bothered by my muddy wet knees 🙂
TIP: Having a familiar face and helper to bring along to the shoot and stand behind the photographer can help to grab the kids’ attention. That helper can be helpful at other times of the shoot too.
- Sunset Time: Google to Find Out
- Location: Beach shooting without shade and you’re going to want to avoid the middle of the day. City shooting with lots of building and you’ll more easily find shade in the middle of the day.
- Consider Temperatures and Seasons: Summertime can bring sun AND heat. Avoiding the middle of the day will bring more comfortable temps, less squinting and more flattering light. Winter shoots are sometimes better in the middle of the day. The sun’s angle is less severe in the winter and higher midday temps help keep fingers warm.
- Nap Times & Busy Schedules: It’s like threading a needle and will be different for every family. Different ages and schedules make your family unique. For babies and younger children it’s navigating around naptime and older children it’s scheduling around sport and school schedules.
TIP: Keep shoots close to home (or AT home) to give your kids a better chance at threading that needle.
TIP: Stay engaged in the moment
4. My favorite advice! “Look like you’re going to the same party”. I went to the mall to pick out some new shirts, shorts and water shoes for the boys. Not identical looks but they pair well. I had a harder time with my outfit. I tried on dresses and lots of new things off the rack. I ended up wearing a light sweater and cargo pants that were already in my closet. For me it was important to wear full sleeves for the early spring beach shoot – I prefer to cover my arms if possible. Pants that would enable me to sit anywhere comfortably without tugging at a dress. As it came together all of our colors fit well.
TIP: Comfort is key!
5. Shooting with Briana we were set on traveling to her in Southern New Hampshire and exploring this beach area in Rye, NH at the Seacoast Science Center. The 1.5 hour drive made the day a little more complex but not impossible. My favorite place to shoot is right at a client’s home. If you want to venture off pick your photographer’s brain for ideas.
TIP: Picking one great location is better than hauling around a city standing in front of touristy backdrops. Kids just want a good space to explore and run around.
6. Go into the shoot with as much patience as you can muster. The objective is to create several snapshots of this little slice of time. It may or may not look like those families you see on Pinterest, but they’ll look 100% like your beautiful unique family.
TIP: Make it a fun family day with a meal somewhere special after the shoot.
TIP: Snacks to stay away from…. (because I learned some of these from personal experience)
- M+Ms (rainbow colored fingers)
- Chocolate Oreos (chocolate crumby faces)
- Lollipop (multicolored lips)
- Juice that stains (unintentional tye-dyed shirts)
TIP: Do what you can to show up early. Nothing stresses me out more than being late.
9. My Mom was there to spend the day with us and help out. Eddie needed some chill out time and Andy got a little rambunctious. She also helped to get the boys to focus on Briana while we were sitting for some portraits. I think she was pretending to be a bird 🙂
TIP: Your dog is welcome but it’s helpful to have a dog handler if we’re out “on location” so we can get some with and some without your pet.
10. Briana was great offering suggestions and I certainly know what they love to do: put rocks into holes and look for bugs. Sitting, looking at the camera is only a small part of how we’ll spend our time.
TIP: If you bring toys your kids love, think simple and classic. Wooden blocks, classic looking toy cars, bubbles, sidewalk chalk
11. Bringing a backup set of clothes is just being prepared for snack spills or diaper blowouts. To keep the momentum of the shoot moving, I don’t think clothing changes are necessary though. I did throw sweatshirts on the boys when it got a little chilly.
TIP: If you’re planning an outfit change think about the extra bags you’ll carry and where you’ll change. Will you need an easily accessible bathroom? Is it worth the extra work?
12. Full disclosure: I did retouch some of my pictures. I was rocking some windswept hair with a messy part and some flyaways. I minimized it and did some light skin smoothing. Retouching can go too far in some cases but in general my style is to finish portraits with a light hand. Temporary blemishes, stray hairs, fabric wrinkles, runny noses and crumby faces can all be fixed with additional requested retouching work or on anything stellar enough to print.
TIP: As a Mom with imperfections and minor body insecurities the best pose for the family is plopping those kids right on your lap and/or bringing your faces close together. The best part of the image is of your smiling faces 🙂 I tell families to squish together and “go ear to ear”. It brings the plane of focus together and everyone connected. I’m often saying “Big Hugs!”
Again, I can’t thank Briana enough for her talent and this experience. Getting good portraits is about hiring a good photographer, trusting that they have your best interest in mind and will roll with the inevitable, unexpected and spontaneous moments – those will be your favorites!