Preparing for your photography session
First thing's first. There is nothing to get stressed about. Once I arrive I take charge and you will know exactly where to go and what to do. I don't mind if your house is tidy or cluttered.. I work well in every home and I will take you as I find you. No matter what way your children are on the day, I will absolutely love them and I will get wonderful pictures for you.
That said, there are a few pointers to help you get the very most out of the session so have a read over all the information below.
What to wear?
Keep it simple and don't worry too much about it. I suggest avoiding logos or distracting writing on clothes. Make sure everyone is comfortable in what they are wearing and that the children feel like their usual selves.
Have a think about what you like in a photograph.. do you like bright vibrant colours or do you like a more pastel calm palette. What would suit your house better? My favourite colours are pinks, blues, creams etc but I also love bright colours on children too! I'd be inclined to stay away from white or black t-shirts on children and adults.
You don't all have to match but do co-ordinate just a little so that everything looks well together and nothing clashes.
Patterns and floral can photograph nicely. Stripes are good too. I'm not mad about too many graphics or words on t-shirts but that's just my preference. Try to avoid branded sports clothes (easier said than done with boys especially!)
Little girls always look gorgeous in summer dresses but only if they are happy to wear them. Leggings are a good idea under dresses so we don't have to be on pants alert. Shoes are not necessary for children...or adults if you don't want to wear them.
For parents, pick something that you can move comfortably in and that you won't get too hot in. If you are debating between two outfits, choose the one that is nicest on the top half as you will see more of this than legs and feet. something flattering around neck, shoulders and arms. Don't forget that you can always wear summer clothes in winter if you like.
You can always give me a call if you are really unsure but honestly, everyone gets it right and if it's really not right, I will help you on the day. My photographs are much more about interaction and moments, more than what you are wearing so don't overthink it :-)
Ideally, when I arrive, everyone is dressed and ready, the children are fed and not too tired, and you are blissfully relaxed and looking forward to the session. However it's not unusual for everything to be going a bit pear shaped in the run up to my arrival.. Baby won't nap, toddler has a bruise on the head, your newborn is unsettled, you have spit up on the top you were planning to wear, siblings are fighting, your little girl has decided she hates dresses/hairbrushes/her brother... don't worry! It's important that you don't get stressed. I will take over once I arrive and the children will perk up nicely and it will all be ok. It always is. And if it's not, we will figure it out.
Try your best to have everyone dressed for when I arrive. If you have to choose between the house being tidy or everyone being dressed and relaxed... choose everyone being dressed and relaxed. The novelty of a photography session can wear off quickly for children so I like to get going straight away. I am almost always on time. If I am running more than ten minutes late I will text you to let you know. Please keep an eye on your phone but expect me to be on time!
Please check little faces carefully and give them a good clean. Look closely for little dry snots around the nostrils!! Don't worry too much about runny noses after that.. I have the wonder of photo editing at my disposal. I can magic away snots, bruises, scratches...
I ask you to allow me to use upstairs and bedrooms too. Let me decide if it's suitable or not. Sometimes it's just the window I need for a great shot. All you need to do is tidy the bed and side lockers. It's useful to have children's bedrooms and cots ready too, just in case. I don't require any further preparation from the family as I am used to working in all kinds of homes and spaces. As you can see from my website the interior of your home doesn't have to be a feature of your pictures so please don't worry about that part. I am really good at finding the right spots in your home to use. I will do a selection of candid style shots and shots with a more "studio style" but they will all be very natural, relaxed and unposed. You don't need to think about the quality of the natural light either. I can work with natural light even on the dullest of days. In fact, often the nicest light is not actually the brightest light - so allow me to work that one out on the day :-)
On the day
Please have curtains and blinds fully open in all the available rooms. Please lift the blinds completely in the rooms to allow as much light in as possible.
I often use windows and mirrors in my pictures (it will make sense when you see your pics!) so it's no harm to have a quick clean of the inside of the windows to remove sticky hand marks (or maybe that's just in my home!).
Unless it's a newborn session, don't have the house too warm. In my experience, parents can overheat a little during the session -so just keep this in mind.
Please also take up any rugs or mats that are covering wooden floors. (not needed for newborn sessions). I often photograph children sitting on the floor and wooden floors are a great background.
If any of the adults are uncomfortable with the idea of a photo session (can sometimes apply to Dads!) tell them that it will be quick and easy and they don't even have to look at the camera. Tell them that my focus is on the kids and that their help with the children would be great on the day. It's not nearly as daunting as it sounds!
I bring a lot of energy to the session, I get the kids going fast and I work fast. I am never, ever, under time pressure myself but there is a natural window for children to be at their best. If I seem hurried, this is why. I need to maximise my time with your children and I get really great photos in the short window of time that the children give me!
Tips on preparing for your family photography session in your home
Further down is some more information particular to the age/stage of your baby/child so please check that out and here is a link to a handy dos and don'ts page that you could ask all grownups in the session to read Dos and Don'ts
Newborn sessions For newborn photography sessions I allocate enough time so there is no pressure on the new parents but please expect me to be with you for an hour and a half. The photoshoot can be paused for changing, feeding or settling. I will most likely be on time so aim to have your newborn baby finishing up a feed when I am due to arrive (don't worry if this doesn't work out - this is just the ideal scenario. I work well in every situation!). Don't worry if she is awake or asleep when I arrive but it is so helpful if he/she has just finished a feed if possible (on the morning, if you think the timing is all wrong give me a shout.. I might have flexibility to tweak the start time). Have your baby dressed in something that you like on him/her. I will be photographing her in her bare skin later in the session but I will start with her dressed for pictures (even a nicely fitted little vest can be lovely but if you are looking for very photogenic outfits Zara baby is amazing but you are likely to have lots of perfect items of clothes already). I usually do family portraits/photos first with with the newborn dressed. I bring some neutral blankets and a beanbag for positioning your newborn while asleep for those gorgeous curled up pictures. Please have some other nice blankets or teddies available that I can use. Natural fibers are particularly lovely for photographs.. wools, linens, muslin etc . If you have any other bits and pieces that you want to use like teddies, hats or headbands, have them ready and we can decide what works on the day. It's absolutely fine to keep it really simple too. A pink/blue or white ironed fresh muslin blanket/cloth can work beautifully too so maybe have that ready. Other than that, please don't worry about anything. Don't worry about the house, about light, anything. I will work it all out when I get there. Do expect me to use the main bedroom though but just have the bed and side lockers tidy. any questions let me know :-)
Newborns and older siblings I love working with newborns and their sisters and brothers. I will always include the older children and take as many pictures as them as their new sibling. I usually get great pictures of the older child with the new baby and I have lots of tips and tricks to achieve this. Toddlers of 18months- 24 months however usually have very little interest in the new baby and it can be a bit tricky to get the shot of the two together. I usually achieve it but just so you are aware that it's not always easy!
baby photography 8-13 weeks This stage can be a little tricky. It is a nice age to photograph as their eyes are bright and wide. They don't always smile during the sessions but that's ok. I love big wide eyes at this stage and a beautiful portrait is guaranteed. The only thing to keep in mind for this age is that you may not get as wide a variety of shots. They are not as responsive as the next stage below and are unlikely to get in to a deep sleep for curled up baby pics. They can be a little fussy at times and a bit less predictable but once you are aware of this the session will be lovely.
Older babies - 16 weeks - 9 months I love working with babies between four and nine months. They are usually in top form for 45 minutes. In fact, I can set my watch to them! This is a great age for parents to be involved in the sessions. This age group are particularly responsive to faces and expressions. They like short bursts of stimulation but then are exhausted after 45 minutes...ready for a nap. It is so easy and fun to make babies of this developmental stage laugh and smile EXCEPT if he or she is sick or under the weather in any way. If this is the case, even if it's last minute, please consider postponing. Your baby will not be able for the session if he or she is not feeling well.
Babies of 10 months - 18 months This age can make strange. That's ok. I take it slowly at this stage and they usually warm up after 20 minutes. Active sessions are best with this age. Plenty of distraction, toys and parent interaction. At this age I find that babies are less interested in new faces and really engaged by action, toys, exploring. Sometimes with this stage I take a more passive, observing role and I rely more on parent interactions to catch the shots.
Toddler photography! Toddlers are gas. My favourite little customers. They are unpredictable, fabulous, irrational, bonkers and I LOVE THEM!! Please don't worry about how your toddler will behave on the day. I am used to working with all ages and adopt a different approach with each age group. The most important thing to remember is for you to stay relaxed. Even if the session seems to you like it's not going well, please trust me and know that I will get great shots for you. What I can see is different to how you might experience the session. It's usually great fun but sometimes with toddlers it can be tricky but as long as you stay calm and trust the process it will be fantastic!
Older Children I absolutely love working with older children too. Very little preparation is needed and they usually have a great time during the session. Just make sure everyone is ready for when I arrive. Some children can get a bit giddy during the sessions. Please allow this to happen and don't worry about "best behaviour". Giddy children make wonderful photographs.
Adults Please try not to be nervous or self-conscious with me. I love photographing families and I really will be mostly focused on the children but I will absolutely make sure you look really great and I will give you hints and prompts and tips during the session to make sure you look your best. During the session, especially for toddlers and older kids, I will try and surprise them or make them laugh. It's often a natural reaction of grownups to respond too with "surprise faces"! Try your best to not react yourselves if I am trying to get a reaction out of the kids. You just be ready for the photograph and allow me to interact with the kids. This is especially true for larger group shots. It's actually more difficult than it sounds but try your best to allow me to get the reactions out of the children in groups shots. I will let you know if I need help. When I am photographing your children on their own without you in the shot, please allow me to keep their attention. Too many instructions and voices can be distracting for the kids. It's important that I can connect with them during the session. My invitation to you is to allow me to take charge for an hour and for you to relax and enjoy the session.