When I ask new clients if they've done family photos before, the answer is typically, "Do ussies on our phones count?" They don't know exactly what to expect or how to prepare -- and I don't expect them to! So when you book a shoot with me, we will also book some time for a pre-session chat. I use these conversations to get to know more about you and your family, to go over posing and styling details and to answer any questions you have about your session. Here's why the first item on that list is super important.
One of the first things I will ask you when we meet is to describe yourselves and the members of your family. I'm not trying to pry and learn your deepest, darkest secrets (unless you're in a sharing mood...). What I'm looking for is anything about your personalities -- shy, demonstrative, outspoken, introverted, reserved, comedic -- that helps me understand you and your family better, capture the true you and prepare for what may unfold during the shoot. And it isn't just the adults I want to know better -- it's the kids as well! I love to have children participate in our pre-session chat because I get a much better sense of them in a short amount of time and can openly ask them questions about their likes and dislikes. They tend to be very inquisitive and usually have great questions for me, too!
Another thing that helps any photographer prepare for a shoot is knowing how someone likes to be photographed and any specifics about what they want their photographer to avoid. This is often a trickier question for people, especially those who haven't done photos before, but this is the moment for you to tell me about any insecurities you may have when it comes to being photographed (and I'm sure we all them). For example, I don't like being the centre of attention; telling my photographer this means s/he knows not to do anything that draws extra attention to me because I'll probably have "uncomfortable!" written all over my face.
Understanding you and your family lets me tailor your session for you. I don't want to make your introverted, reserved husband act silly if that is a galaxy outside his comfort zone, but I know some husbands who would be all over that! I don't want to photograph your adolescent son tucked lovingly in your arms (as much as my heart would love it) if he wants to look older, tougher and more independent at this stage in his life. And if your seven-year-old daughter dances to her own beat, knowing that in advance lets me set aside some time for her ideas and maybe strategize with you on how we get her to participate happily in the rest of the shoot as well.
It's great to tell me that you like to play golf, your son likes baseball or that your kids will behave well and do just as they're asked, but those details aren't as important as whether your son is shy or your daughter feels self-conscious about something. The more I can prepare for and respond to the people in front of my camera, the better for you. So spill the beans, my loves -- and let's make your photo shoot something that fits you and your family perfectly!