For some people, getting a professional portrait session done is the most stressful event of the century. The kids are running with scissors while you’re trying to get dressed, your husband has Cheeto dust on his shirt, the baby is eating his diaper, and your hairspray is failing you. These are the things that make for an anxiety filled hour with your photographer, and guaranteed some very grumpy faces. But it doesn’t have to be like that- I PROMISE. Make your investment of hiring a professional photographer go as far as you want it to, and have a stress-free portrait session. Here are six tips (actually, six DONT’s) that I think will help take your stress away, and make your kids (and husband!) happy. I’m sure there are a million other things I could add, but these are at the top of my list when I talk to my clients:
1. Stay off of Pinterest. (Unless you are looking for clothing ideas, which is a great idea!) If I had a dollar for every time I had a client say “I saw this really awesome idea on Pinterest! I would really like to have my kids piled up on a giraffe, next to a shipwreck, with each of them wearing a feather boa. And can you please make everything black and white except the boas and the giraffe?”. The short answer is no. The long answer is this: Worrying about what poses, locations, and props will be used is up to your photographer. Don’t stress about it for one second. When you hire your photographer, you hire them for their skill and their artistic vision. Look at their work before you hire them, and make sure their style compliments your own. With the exception of my studio sessions, I personally don’t care for the use of too many props. So, chances are, if your photographer has a more laid back, natural style, they won’t be supplying any giraffes (or boas) during your session 😉 That doesn’t mean you can’t ask though- most photographers are willing to work with their clients and meet in the middle if needed. This will take a load off of your shoulders, because it will be one less thing for you to worry about. I promise!
2. Don’t argue with your spouse. This may seen obvious, but I feel it has to be said again and again…just love each other. At least for one hour. Your kids are going to pick up on the tension, and once that happens, their moods will start to go south as well. When the kiddos see mom and dad happy, they will be happy too. Plus, and trust me on this, it is always obvious when someone is unhappy in their pictures. If someone is being a cranky-pot-pie because they hate getting their pictures taken, opt for a lifestyle inspired session instead. Sometimes you just gotta do what ya gotta do. “But Lindsey, can’t you just photoshop a smile onto his face?”. No, no I cannot. So cheer up buttercup!
3. Don’t scrutinize yourself. I am not comfortable in front of the camera one bit. Ironically, being effortlessly beautiful takes too much effort. But every time we get our own family pictures done, or I do a self portrait in my studio, I take a step back and think to myself “Wow. I am beautiful. There is no body else in this entire world who is just like I am. And nobody is going to tell me otherwise (because if they do they will get judo-chopped)”. I am far from perfect, but I don’t care. I want my daughter to have pictures of her mom and dad so she can look back 30, 40, and 50 years from now, smile, and say “That’s my family”. If there are specific areas you are self conscious about, talk to your photographer. Ask for tips on hiding that post-baby-belly, or your teenager’s blemishes. Get your hair and nails done, or a spray tan if you feel like it. I don’t have one ugly client, and I promise you, you won’t be the first 😉
4. Don’t bribe your children. At least until the very end. If you bribe them before you even get in the car, the ONLY thing that will be on their minds is what you bribed them with. They won’t be able to focus, they will misbehave, and then they will cry. Especially younger children. If you tell them they get ice cream if they smile pretty, they will expect an entire gallon of purple ice cream immediately after the first picture is taken. And then you know what happens next. Don’t get me wrong, I love bribery and really wish it wasn’t illegal in some circumstances, but sometimes you have to come up with something different, like bubbles or a favorite toy….something that you wouldn’t mind being photographed along with your family. For us, it is our daughter’s lovie, ‘Baby’. Baby is in every family picture and probably will be until Reese is 30.
5. Don’t forget to eat. Food=happy people. I know I’m at my best right after eating anything, and snack breaks happen all the time during my sessions. So before your session, get some grub in those tummies and don’t forget to pack something chocolatey for your photographer. I prefer Almond Joys. I hope you’re taking notes.
6. Don’t Compromise. You’re spending the money, make sure you are getting the best bang for your buck. Find a photographer who loves and knows what they’re doing. Not only will this add to your experience, but when your photographer has a smile on their face and positive, can-do attitude, so will you. And with anything, as long as your photographer is a dog lover, you will be good to go 😉