Fall family portraits make for lasting memories
With Christmas card season just around the corner and the leaves all ablaze, autumn is a popular time to get family photographs taken. Likely some relative with a tricked out camera has offered to take snaps your family, but capturing memories isn’t as easy as it looks. Here’s how to best capture authentic family moments.
By properly preparing for your photo session, your family is more likely to have fun the day of it. Book your session at least one month in advance — especially if you’re aiming for that golden hour of light one hour before the sun sets. Schedule haircuts a week in advance so they have time to settle.
Besides proper zzz’s the night before, don’t jack the littles up with a trip to the zoo right before your session. You want everyone well rested and hydrated. Tote healthy snacks to ensure nobody gets hangry. To avoid stained mouths, skip carrots, beets, candy and beverages with dye.
Most importantly, don’t spring this on the kids last minute. Let them know the plan and schedule a fun outing afterwards, so the overall experience becomes a pleasant memory.
Location, location, location
When deciding where to stage your photoshoot, it helps to have an idea what you’ll actually do with the final images. Will they be turned into Christmas cards, given as framed gifts or printed on canvas and hung like art?
If going the art route, take into consideration your home’s style. Historic neighbourhoods with period buildings are an appropriate backdrop for heritage homes. For modern homes, downtown offers ample parking lots and intriguing reflections off glass buildings.
According to Rachel Boekel, a lifestyle photographer in Canmore, Alta. any spot your family frequents regularly should be considered, as the images are a representation of how you spend your time together. “A coffee shop or local playground will look more authentic than, say, a mountain backdrop if your family isn’t outdoorsy,” she says.
What to wear
You don’t want the added stress of leaving your wardrobe selection until the last minute. Start planning what you’ll wear weeks before the session. Lindsay Ross, a Calgarybased lifestyle photographer recommends having mom pick out her clothing first. “Women tend to have the hardest time finding their outfit. Once decided, you can build everyone else’s clothing around hers,” she suggests.
Pick a palate and work with two or three colours that compliment each other. “You want to be comfortable and coordinated, but probably not matchy-matchy. There’s a trend away from everyone wearing jeans and white T-shirts,” advises Boekel.
Stay away from distracting logos, and bring accessories to the shoot. You can always take them off, but adding a jacket, for instance, gives a different look. Textures like lace, wool and corduroy are visually more interesting and add another dimension.
Maintain a positive outlook
As challenging as this sounds, you want to enjoy each other’s company during the photo session. Come into it relaxed and ready to have fun despite potential hiccups.
“Don’t worry about your kids acting up. Parents get stressed with misbehaviour and that comes across in the images. Realize your kids might act out or pout and that’s OK. That’s my job to worry about,” affirms Ross.
For that one or two hours during the session, make like Elsa and let it go. Allow the photographer to guide your family through the photos without you resorting to bribery.
Choosing the right photographer
Lifestyle photography is a saturated market and being unregulated, prices are all over the map. Begin by asking for referrals, and check out the photographer’s work online — Instagram and Facebook, too. When you make your inquiry, be clear about what you’re after — especially if you want to retain the digital files.
A good photographer will break down their packages, pricing and provide you with tips on what to wear, how to prepare for the session and location suggestions. They should also inquire about your family beforehand — your kid’s ages, what they’re into and how you spend your free time together. After all, you want your family captured as their most natural selves, right?
Jessie and Steve Ashton spend time playing with their kids in Canmore, Alberta.
The Van Zyl’s enjoy time with their granddaughter in Brooks, Alberta.