Congratulations! You’ve booked your very first family photo session. It’s time to celebrate and start planning! Here are a few tips to build your confidence and help you have the best session possible:
1 –Be clear about expectations. Managing expectations something you’ll be thankful you did and the parents will greatly appreciate. During your initial emails or calls, explain what a session with you will entail – if a contract needs to be signed, when the payment is due, the approximate length of time you’ll shoot, how you conduct sessions (casual or more posed pictures?), when and how they’ll receive the pictures afterward. I’m sure the clients will have questions for you, too – try to respond to those quickly and professionally, even though you’re new to all of it! You are showing them respect by being open and up front about everything regarding the time they’re booking with you.
Discuss the importance of printing their photos and ask where they’d like to hang their portraits to help you plan your shoot!
2 –Scout out the location ahead of time. Whether you’ve been to the spot a thousand times or never before, you’ll want to be familiar with it in terms of photography. Go there at the same time you’ll be doing the session, and be mindful of the light. Where is the lighting most even? (Shoot there!) How does it change as the day gets later? Also, look at potential backgrounds: what areas draw your interest? Which are ho-hum? Focus on the best areas of light first, then try to match those up with the lovely backgrounds.
Are they interested in at-home shoots? Click here for 5 Places to Photograph Portraits in Your Home!!
3 –Send out a reminder email the day before. Be sure to include the session location, address, meeting time, and your phone number. Things can get written down and remembered wrong –this is an easy way to avoid confusion at your first shoot.
4 –Prep the night before. Charge those batteries, clear your memory cards, double-check your camera is working (really), and pack any props or blankets. Take a few minutes to visualize the session, going through any poses you’d like to try, and tell yourself you’re going to do a great job!
5 – When the family arrives, show your excitement! (You may be shaking in your boots with nervous anticipation, but they don’t need to know that ;-)) Tell them how glad you are to meet them, how excited you are about the session. Make a point to get eye-to-eye with the kids to say hi and introduce yourself. If you have a joke or something silly to tell them, this would be a great time to do so. From the beginning, you have a chance to help everyone relax– take it! The sooner everyone feels comfortable with you, the smoother the session will run.
6 –Lead them around your pre-planned spots to shoot in. Remember when you scouted out the location earlier? The family will appreciate your confidence and organization!
7 –Breathe, and take the time you need. It’ll be a little nerve-wracking, taking family pictures for the first time, but you can do it, and you can do it well. One of my main mistakes when first starting out was thinking I shouldn’t ever pause during a shoot…I thought I needed to keep things moving at all times! This couldn’t be further from the truth. Families will need a couple minutes’ break here and there, so take that time to assess what you need to do. Scroll through your pictures and see if you missed the mark somewhere, or if you need to focus on something specific. For example, do you need to grab a few more kids-only shots? Or maybe you would like to have a couple of close-ups? It’s perfectly ok to take a moment to make sure you’re getting what you need, so in turn, you can please your clients.
8 – Interact…a lot. This is the most important (and really, the most fun) thing you can do at your session! Mom may be a bit frazzled from trying to get everyone ready (and clean) on time, Dad may be a little bored, and the kids may want to do just about anything other than take a picture. But! You know what will bring everyone together and help you get those images you know you can take: connection. Don’t just stay behind the camera –engage and lead them to do the same. Chat with the parents and be silly with the kids. Tell everyone how great they look and how much you love the pictures! Get them interacting with one another by tickling, teasing, chasing, hugging…whatever they seem to do naturally. Once this happens, you’ll be grabbing those images you love, and they will too.
9 –Don’t be afraid to be silly. We all know that kids are incredibly fun, but they’ll probably be a bit shy at the beginning of the shoot. The more you show your interest in them, the more they’ll love you. Depending on their ages, brush up on your animal sounds, corny jokes, active games (‘Red Light Green Light’ is always a winner for me), etc! Give them time during the session to run, jump, dance, wiggle, and all the other things they do so well. This is also a great time to get those perfectly candid shots that show their personalities! Children aren’t wired to sit still, so let them be little.
10 –Wrapping up. You did it! You did an amazing job, and the clients are going to love their pictures. As things are coming to an end, remind them again about when and how they’ll receive the images. Ask if they have any questions! Tell them again how much you enjoyed meeting them and be sure to say bye to the kids (once again – they love to feel special!).
Guest Blogger: Molly Wantland