I have been asked many times for tips, for clients who are attending a photography session!
I thought I would document them here, for everyone to consider for their next shoot. These are the main issues but there may be many more that you can think of too!
Wear what you are comfortable in. If you are comfortable, you will enjoy your shoot a lot more. Also bear in mind where your session will be - if at the beach, thongs are great, as are board shorts and singlets and summer dresses. A casual and relaxed look is great as well as practical for the beach. If you are having your session during winter at the Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens, on the other hand, bear in mind that it will be cold and that you may need jackets and boots, and perhaps some scarves and hats might look great, especially on the kids! Winter sessions can be really lovely!
In general, with clothing colours, try and keep to neutral and plain colours. Creams and beiges are great, as are black and white, grey and denim. A spot of colour can be awesome as well, such as a splash of red, green or blue. You can mix and match your colours with your family too, so you can all match or you can all have a similar base colour and each have your own splash of colour.
If you do not wish to wear any particular colours or go with a theme, that is fine too, as your session is about you and your family! However, please remember to keep the patterns to a minimum and also avoid clothing with large logos and images on the front - simple styling and design is best.
An example below of beautifully simple and styling clothing for a session.
FOOD AND DRINK
Your session may only be an hour or it may be longer. It may be hot or cold. Please bear in mind that it is a good idea to bring drinks, especially for the kids and especially in hot weather. The kids also might love to have a snack too, if the session is long and especially if they have travelled some distance to get to the location! Also consider hydrating before your session, especially if it is a hot day! But also be mindful of the little people needing to visit the toilet after drinking, and consider whether a toilet is accessible during the session.
If you are bringing food and drinks, please also consider bringing some baby wipes to clean faces! There is nothing worse than spending a lot of time preparing for your session with lovely clothes and travelling some distance only to have the kids' faces with Nutella smudges or red cordial lips! And even worse, when it is on their clothes!
Remember - baby wipes remove many stains!
A gorgeous clean little face below!
CLEAN FACES AND TEETH
On the subject of food and faces, everyone can make sure their face is clean for the session - even the adults can fall into the trap - they have the kids faces all cleaned but have forgotten their own. Smudged food or coffee is very easily seen in photographs and it is very easy to clean off before the session.
It is a good idea for everyone to clean their teeth before leaving home for their session, as dirty teeth can really detract from a lovely portrait and it is very awkward for the photographer to need to point this out, if they are lucky enough to notice it before the photos are taken.
Please ensure faces, teeth and clothes are all clean prior to the start of the session - your photographer will appreciate this beyond measure and your portraits will be perfect!
Nice clean teeth!
If you wear eye glasses, consider how this will work with your session. Can you get through your shoot without them, and do you want to? If your glasses are a part of your every day attire, then they are fine to leave on. However, if you do want to remove them, perhaps set a reminder beforehand so that you remember to take them off at the start, not halfway through when many of the images have been taken. Also, if you have glasses with anti-reflective coating, please wear them!
Many people arrive for a session on a sunny day with their sunnies on. It is entirely up to you whether you would like to wear them or not, but generally portraits are so much nicer when the eyes (and emotion and personality) are visible to the camera! Some people like to have some funny photos with sunnies on and then remove them after, and this is perfectly fine and often makes for a fun theme if everyone has a pair of sunnies!
If you have a tendency to wear your sunnies on your head (like me), then have someone remind you to take them off before the session starts. It does not bother everyone but more often than not, someone will notice it towards the end of the session and they will realise that many photos have been taken with them on. Your photographer may well ask you if you would like to remove them, before the start of the session.
Below is an adorable little face, with the perfect glasses look!
The location you choose for your session should represent what style you are looking for, for your session and also be practical for your circumstances. If you are having a session with a large family group with a lot of small children, the beach might not be the best place to consider, especially if it is a very hot day. Alternatively if you are wanting a session with your children and you have chosen Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens in winter, please bear in mind that if your family members have asthma to ensure that you are all warm and that you bring any medication needed, such as Ventolin inhalers and such items.
You may be having a session with your older relatives, so you may like to select a location which is easily accessible, on smooth terrain which is close to where you can park and also near facilities like toilets - also good for the kids. Consider also how far your older relative is able to walk, or if they are wheelchair bound. Sometimes it is great to choose a park location that has abundant seating for older people to have a rest when they need it. This also may apply to pregnant Mums-to-be who may also need a rest.
When it comes to children, some are more energetic than others, and it often depends on their age. If they are required to walk too far, they may become very tired and irritable which is not fun for them, and it is also not great for cute kids' portraits! So it might be a good idea to think about a location they will enjoy, such as a park where they can run around but they do not have to trek through bushland or a sand to a beach. They may well be toilet training so a toilet close by is important.
I, like most photographers, have a range of great ideas for locations that can suit pretty much any circumstance so if you are not sure, ask your photographer for advice and suggestions. I have been around and had sessions at many parks and places all over Adelaide and I can usually suggest a few good options for your circumstances and I can also do some research for you!
Please also bear in mind that some locations such as specific gardens and wineries often require a permit to be paid for, to be able to have a photography session there. And in addition, on a Total Fire Ban day, many parks are actually closed - Total Fire Ban days are usually declared at 4pm or so the day before - if you know it is going to be hot, and you are scheduled to have a session in a Botanic Park the following day, check the CFS website for a Total Fire Ban declaration. We can then either reschedule or relocate.
The perfect look below, for a beach session and great fun for kids of this age who have energy to burn!
If any of your family or the people attending the session have medical issues, please remember to bring their medication. This can be Ventolin inhalers, diabetes medication (and glucose) or any other medication that might be needed. Even include some Panadol or Nurofen in your bag, just in case someone comes down with a headache - often a good dose of sunlight can bring about a headache. And ensure you have something to drink it with!
Another commonly required medication, especially during spring, is Telfast or similar. If you have a family member who suffers from hayfever, and your session is in a park area, perhaps suggest they take a 24 hour tablet beforehand as a precaution or at least bring them with you. There is nothing more unpleasant for someone who is constantly sneezing, with a runny nose and itchy eyes, during a photography session! And always bring your tissues regardless!
As below, garden settings can be lovely, but some times of the year can be tough with the hayfever!
Please allow enough travel time to get to your chosen location. It may not be a long drive but it may be an hour or so. Allow extra time for traffic and roadworks too, as these often hold people up unexpectedly. Your photographer often has another session straight after yours and needs to travel to get there, so if you guys are held up, then your photographer is going to be held up for the next client who may be waiting, often with children.
Also please bear in mind that the photographer also has a family and things to do themselves, and cannot afford to wait for half an hour or even an hour as is sometimes the case, as they often have other appointments with their own children to attend or even have part time work which they must be on time for.
If you are going to be held up by something outside of your control, please text or call the photographer as soon as you are able to - even if you do not end up being late, it is still better to give some advanced warning so the photographer can then change their own plans with the next client or their workplace.
The grumpy face of running late!
I am often asked about which lighting is best for a session. Often there is the misconception that a bright sunny day is best for photography. As much as sunny days and blue skies make us all smile and cheer us up, it is less than ideal for our cameras. Photographers are all happy when they wake in the morning for their session and they see it is overcast - this means great light for faces!
Firstly, lots of sun means shadows. The shadows on your faces are difficult to work with and you will end up with photos where one side of your face my be bright white and the other side in darkness. We can repair some of that when editing, but it never looks as nice as an even light on the face.
The other thing about sunlight is that it makes people squint. Portraits are much nicer when everyone has wide open eyes, and it is also a lot more pleasant for you, to not have to squint. Sunny days and squinting are also not great for your makeup either, and you may end up with running mascara and you may also end up with sunburn - so do not forget your sunscreen - even on a cloudy day!
The best times of the day to have a session is usually early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the sun is low on the horizon to the west and when it takes on that lovely yellow glow instead of the glare. The light is usually really lovely for photos at these times. Of course if our session is booked in a shady location, this is far less of an issue and I always prefer to have a session in a location where I know there is a lot of shady options.
Using great lighting at the right time of the day to create gorgeous portraits, as below!
If you are not sure about something in relation to your session - whether it be location, amenities, time of day, what to wear and what to bring - please just ask your photographer. I would much prefer you to ask me a heap of questions before you shoot so that you are comfortable and relaxed during your shoot, having had everything addressed, than be worried, rushed and caught out with something during the session.
Even it if it is just a quick text to ask something small the day before, an email or a call - please ask! Your photographer wants you to have the best photography experience possible, in addition to having lovely portraits!
And never forget - have fun, enjoy the session and have a laugh!