5 tips to prepare for family photos (including how to convince your partner)

London and Sydney family and newborn photographer.

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  1. How to convince your partner

Now I know lots of dads who happily attended family photography sessions. I’ve seen dads who brighten faces, prepare snacks, throw their children high into the air and chase after them and many who know how important the photos are for their family. I am often booked by dads. That said, I know a lot of mums who would love family photos but can’t convince their partners. One of the biggest objections is often they don’t want to pose or be staged and let’s face it - be told what to do! My sessions are perfect for camera shy and relaxed people who just want to hang out and connect rather than do lots of posing. I also really recommend letting your partner know how important it is to you to have these photos. That you want to exist in photographs together for your children to look back on in the future. The number one thing I hear from dads after a session is - oh that was easier than I thought. Another objection is money and I get that. These are precious memories of never to be repeated days and really are an investment worth making. A few of my clients do family photographs as their birthday gift each year. I love this idea and it becomes a regular event that everyone looks forward to. Research shows that family photographs can lift self esteem in children, but I think it’s also a lovely experience to do as a family. Just simply being together in the moment and having a keepsake of that is precious. I often get asked but will we still do portraits? Yes, absolutely. I love portraits too, I like them as relaxed as possible and reflecting your individual qualities.

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2. Choosing a location

It’s no secret that in-home sessions have my heart. They are simple because no one needs to leave the house, children are relaxed and best of all they include details that tell your story. Your furniture, the books, the paintings, the colours, the blankets - these are all individually you. There can be no greater way to create a keepsake of your family than in your home. If you move home you’ll always have a memory of not only what you all looked like then but what your home was like and in future generations these will be powerful and important parts of your family story. You don’t need an amazing home. Just a window or a couch or bed. If in-home isn’t right then there is no shortage of parks and green spaces available. A place of meaning is always great - maybe a favourite park, where you met or like to walk as a family. I always love when there is an activity, so at home that can be baking, playing or reading and out and about that can be running, hide and seek or kicking a ball. Having an activity lifts the pressure and gets everyone to relax and we get a little documentary style to our lifestyle sessions which is my favourite combination.

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3. What to wear

The best advice is to keep it simple and be yourselves. A simple t shirt or jumper and try and compliment each other as opposed to matching. Don’t be shy of colour, prints, texture or movement - skirts and dresses are perfect because they move and flow. Newborns are best in simple white onsie or solid colour. We can use wraps and blankets to add as we go. Husbands look great in simple tees - you can spot a man who has been told what to wear a mile off and it shows in their posture and face. Be yourselves. Happy faces win every time. Do try and avoid brand names or slogans, they can be distracting. When picking your outfits consider the location - if it’s home keep it more casual, if it’s in a park think about footwear that is easy to walk in. You can see my inspiration boards for summer and spring here and autumn and winter here.

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4. How to prepare your children and your home

There is no need to arrange a cleaner in advance or go on a huge spring clean! We will choose 2 - 3 locations in the home with the best light. Some nice linen on the bed, it doesn’t need to be fancy just basic or with a beautiful rug or coloured cushions. A special blanket passed down or items of meaning, people have used scarves that belong to loved ones passed, others include an outfit all their children have worn. If you have a newborn session planned than warming up the home is a good idea. We want a sleepy contented baby so warm and well fed and relaxed will help. Now I know you want beautiful photographs but I can assure you the fastest way to get young children to misbehave is asking them to sit still! I love to do a very low pressure hands off approach. Please don’t ask children to smile. Trust me I won’t be judging tantrums or over excited behaviour. I have 2 children myself and I know it can be unpredictable and not always happy. We don’t need to be all singing and dancing, we just need to hang out. We want natural and relaxed and the way we do that is by chatting and giving children a chance to open up. My sessions can be up to 2 hours and the reason for this is so children can warm up. Similarly, if your child is shy or wary of strangers I will let them find their comfort zone and that’s where we’ll stay. We get the best results when we follow their lead. Relax and enjoy it, it’s all part of the experience of being together and capturing true reflections of who you are.

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5. When should I have my session?

The best answer is a time that suits your family routine. Newborns don’t have a schedule so pick a time that allows you to be ready, maybe have had a chance to brush your hair and a cup of tea! Newborns are super sleepy in the first few weeks, around 6 weeks can be a really unsettled time, and at 9 - 12 weeks you start to see their personality really coming through. There are benefits to every age though so it really comes down to when you feel ready. I can help you with this when you book. If this is a family shoot without a newborn then pick the time your children are at their happiest. If it’s outdoors I’ll be looking for an early morning or later afternoon time slot to get the best and softest light.

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I hope that’s given you some insight in how to prepare and plan your session. It’s really very easy and actually lots of fun. I guide you every step of the way and am always on hand for questions. When you book your session we will chat about your thoughts and make a plan that suits your family. I’d love to hear from you.