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Preparing for Your Portrait Session

It's amazing how something as simple as having some photos taken of your family can become stressful or daunting! I had no idea this was the case until the first portrait session of our little growing family. I was so nervous! Would Rosa (our 11 month old) cooperate? Would she not nap properly that day and be totally overtired? Would Conor (my husband) decide to enjoy the day, or be a little annoyed that I was "making" him do this? Was it really a good idea to bring our dog? What if she decided it was a perfect time to not listen and run off? How was I going to do my hair (gotta love all those unruly baby hairs growing back from the "after having a baby" hair loss!)? And trying to decide what everyone was going to wear... I think I changed my mind 4 times! And even then I didn't do very well. Check out the guns on Conor's shirt holding me hostage!

Guns on his shirt? Vintage or not, how did that get the okay? I don't want to stress you out. I'll stop now.

So, I thought, what a perfect subject to write some tips about! Although I was stressing for mine, when it's portrait sessions for other people, and I'm behind the camera, I am generally able to think straight and communicate all the tips I've learned over the years. So, read on and put your mind at ease!


What to wear:

  • Don't be afraid of putting on a little extra makeup
  • It's up to you how "matchy" you dress. Keep in mind that matching will create more uniform and polished looking photos and dressing differently will give your photos a more creative and casual feel.
  • Try to avoid really obvious emblems (such as Conor's guns). They can be distracting, or hold your loved one hostage!
  • Accessories are always good - scarves, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, hats, headbands, belts, fun shoes, boots, clips or flowers in your hair...
  • For more variety in the photos, feel free to bring along a second outfit to change into part way through your session. It can be nice if one outfit is more dressy and the other more casual.
  • Is it going to be a tad chilly outside? Perfect! Jackets, scarves, mittens, hats, etc. look great in photos! There's no need to freeze to death trying to make it seem like a random hot spell hit in November! But do keep in mind what's under those jackets (that was, in fact, what I failed to remember with the guns incident mentioned above...)
  • Lastly, if you have a plan in mind for what you want to do with your photos, dress in a way that works for it.


Other thoughts: 

  • Make sure your kids have full bellies!
  • If your child has a special toy, or something that could be fun and show their personality in some photos, bring it along! This can help kids relax by having something familiar... and something fun to play with!
  • Use the loo just before you leave the house
  • Most importantly, mom (who's probably reading this), RELAX! Your family will sense your tension and this will most likely make them tense or annoyed. Don't worry about how your kids will do or if they'll smile right. Let whatever is going to happen, happen! (Oh, and bribing can sometimes be very effective!)
  • Okay, most most importantly, get ready to have fun! I promise it won't be as uncomfortable as you think!

BUT, all this being said, if you really want to have fun and make a statement, throw all these "rules" out and do whatever you would like to do!! (Maybe just remember to use the loo...) Don't be afraid to express yourself, or maybe even be a little more bold than usual!

wedding and portrait photography by loni searl - serving vancouver island