Stop Worrying about your weight

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me “I’ll get family portraits done when I have lost 15 pounds” I probably wouldn’t need to work anymore.  Lets be real for a second not many of us actually get better looking or skinnier as the years pass by right.  Can you imagine if we had history books without the occasional picture to spur our passion for history.  Now imagine the thought of your children or grand children not having a picture to reference you by or just a memory to treasure.  Truly I can’t remember a time when I looked at pictures of my parents when they were young with my grandparents and said wow grandma was really heavy there.  Nope its just grandma and my love for her is like no other and those images I treasure because my grandma has since passed.  So get over the insecurities and get your family pictures done.  A good photographer not only will pose you in the most flattering poses they will know the ins and outs of editing.  Certainly we as photographers don’t want to change who you are but we can certainly do a little nip and tuck to hide some of those insecurities with photoshop.  Remember that family portraits are about the legacy you will someday leave behind so its important that you are apart of those memories whether your a size 2 or a size 12.

Choose colors and styles that work with your decor

This is always one of the most daunting tasks for any mom.  What do we wear for our family portraits.  I am sure you have seen the every popular solid color black teeshirts and blue jeans or white and blue jeans but that doesn’t really express a lot of individuality.  When choosing what to wear there are three things I always tell my families to consider.

1. Style – location and fashion

What I mean by the style is are you more of a casual family or a maybe even a country family.  Do you prefer to look classy or glamorous?  Maybe you’re whole family are wild and closet KISS fans and you wanna paint your faces and look like Gene Simmons (Not recommended).  All these things should really be considered when choosing your clothing as well as the location style.  We will discuss the location below a little more in one of the other 6 tips.  Really though do you want gene Simmons look-a-like portraits in a beautiful country setting?  I would think that would be more of a grunge setting in an alley or something more urban.

2. Decor – What is your home decor like.  Family pictures are something you normally hang in your home so you want them to match the colors of your home decor.  My favorite suggestion for this is Pinterest color palettes.  Lets say your home decor has a lot of Burgundy and gold.  Consider those colors and then what season are you having your portraits done?  If its late spring early summer the outdoor colors are often very Green and maybe a little light golden from some of the tall grass.  Now that you have some of the colors determined log into Pinterest and search 1 color

from your decor and one color you might have the most of outside and then add the words color pallet to the end i.e. Burgundy and Green Color Palette Voila you have multiple color pallets with some great ideas.  I went ahead and typed this in and this is what I got

Find something you love and then choose clothing and outfits with just a small bit of the accent color from the pallet you choose.  You might also see some family portraits that will give you some inspiration as well.  So for our above colors we entered into the search Burgundy and Green and found that Charcoal, Cream and Petal (Light Pink) are great accent colors for that.  As I am sure you dad and the boys won’t be caught dead in Petal Pink find some options with cream or charcoal.  For the girls maybe put one of the young girls in a petal pink colored dress and some of the older girls with a scarf that matches the accent color.  Not everyone has to be Matchy Matchy but if you can Pick some accent colors and work them throughout the family your look is going to be spot on!

Determine what your going to do with your portraits

This is such an important step.  Portraits are not cheap and often families get caught off guard with the cost but forget the value of documenting such important milestones and family legacies.  How often do you go to the grocery store without a purpose?  Probably never.  Most people go to the grocery store with the intention to get milk and bread and then come home with a basketful of groceries.  Does it ever drive you nuts that milk is always at the back of a grocery store?  This is carefully planned by store merchandising teams so that you have to walk past everything else in the store to get to the milk.  My point is why wouldn’t you plan out what you want to accomplish with your family portraits.  Surely just having a digital on your computer that will for sure crash at some point is not a great end game.  So find a spot on your walls you plan to hang a beautifully framed portrait of your family and clear the walls in that spot so that you can really envision it there.  Dust off a new area of the piano for a cute portrait of you with the girls and dad with the boys.  Have you ever considered hanging a family portrait in each of the kids rooms or where they spend the most of their time?  Did you know that hanging a family portrait strengthens the individual worth of your children because it shows them that they are an important element of a family unit?  Everyone has a place and its our job as a parent to make sure that our children know their place and know they are loved.

Don’t forget dad.  Make sure that dad has a small desk print to go on his desk at home.  People in the work place like to see what we call most and its always good to remind dad why it is that he slogs away at that job that can sometimes be overwhelming.

Most importantly I think we sometimes forget that our family portraits qualify as art.  When done well they really accent the decor of your home.  Many of us drive Mercedes Benz and BMW’s and carry Louis Vuitton handbags because they are a form of social proof.  They are proof that you work hard and that you are successful in what you do.  Most of all they show what you value.  Hanging beautiful portraits on the walls of your home show our friends and the very family in the portrait that you value your family.  Have you ever been into a home with a 70 inch television but no family portraits on  the wall?  I have and it just screams that I value my television more than my family!  So determine ahead of time what you want to do with those family portraits.

Location, Location, Location

Location is such an important aspect of family portraits!  Now you could easily throw a dart at the map and then see what turns up.  Consider the elements that we discussed above.  What is your fashion or style?  Choosing a location doesn’t have to be hard.  When booking a photographer make sure to let the photographer know our family is very country or glamorous and we are wearing…… what would you suggest for a location.  Often times photographers will offer a free portrait planning session where you can go over these locations.

Location is also an important aspect when it comes to the decor in your homes.  Tall weeds or wheat fields in late summer have a golden tone and might be an incredible accent to your Burgundy highlights in your homes decor.  Picking out a location is a great help to your photographer but also be considerate of the time of day your scheduled session may be and where the sun will be during the time of your session.  Like mentioned above the colors of the background will have a great deal of impact on the colors in the decor.

Make it simple – Hubby will thank you

This is a biggy! Husbands are rarely excited about getting all done up for family pictures and for that matter a few of the kids if not all of them may less than excited.  The more you have planned out the faster and easier the process may go.  Ask his opinion once and if he doesn’t seem to particular that means he trusts you to make the right decisions.  Often photographers offer longer session lengths and multiple locations to add value to the idea of booking them.  This isn’t necessarily the smartest choice and the experience might end in a fight.  Then getting your hubby to do family pictures any time later will bring back bitter thoughts and memories and who wants a family portrait on the wall that reminds you of a bad experience.  A great photographer knows how to engage your children as well as the Hubby and make it a fast and fun experience but still capture all of the necessary portraits to meet your needs and document milestones.

Choose the right photographer

There is no question that there are hundreds of incredible photographers out there.  Some are full time and some are part time.  Many are struggling artists just trying to find their way in a passion they love.  Few have figured out the business side of things and understand that we are here to serve you and not our own needs.  When choosing the right photographer I always have a few tips to suggest. 
First and foremost make sure the photographer constantly captures images that match your desired style.  Don’t find a photographer you love and ask them to change their style to suit your taste or vision unless it closely matches their current style.

Customer services is far and above the most important factor to me and something I would certainly suggest you consider.  How fast does the photographer reply to emails or phone calls.  Does the photographer have positive or negative reviews on Google.

don’t be afraid to ask if the photographer does photography for a living or as a part time job.  Part time photographers are often less expensive however they don’t normally offer the full service experience so yes you might pay less for the shoot and images but after the time and money spent to finish your products with prints and frames will you be spending about the same or more for a sub par quality product?  If you went to a car lot and said you wanted a Mercedes you can’t get a better deal if they just give you all the parts in a box and have you assemble it yourself.   

Choosing a photographer that is seasoned is so important because when it comes to posing and locations a photographer that understands the important elements will calm your nerves and set everyone at ease.  Additionally keeping it quick and simple for the sake of your loved ones is something a seasoned photographer will bring to the table.

Find a photographer that will offer a free consultation or planning session.  Family portraits are an important document of your family history and legacy and are often a sizable investment so planning it out with your photographer is a great opportunity to make sure everything goes perfectly.  Also having a minute to get to know your photographer is vital to your comfort and ease of mind.  I’ve always said that I can capture portraits of peoples true personality the better I know them and the more comfortable they are with me.

Last but not least ask your potential photographer how they edit their images.  You can learn a lot about the depth of the photographers abilities with this question.  Any reputable photographer will use either Photoshop, Lightroom, and or Camera Raw with some other softwares for actions and additional.  We use Lightroom for general light and color correction and some finishing touches as well as photoshop to really complete the image with the removal of blemishes, sharpening of eyes and removing flyaway hairs.  We have a pretty defined 5 step edit process to capture the simplistic yet classic portrait style we strive to achieve.

So keep in mind all of these tips when considering who you will trust with such delicate memories of your family.  Not all photographers are created equal but more importantly not all photographers understand business and how to care for you and your family’s needs.

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