The internet is full of advice of things you need to know regarding photo shoots, but before you bog yourself down with what to wear, whether you children are going to cooperate and where the ideal location might be, first ask yourself this one simple question:
WHAT DO I WANT TO DO WITH THESE IMAGES?
This seems like a pretty easy question, but many clients don’t know the answer to this question because they haven’t really thought about it. Here are some things to consider…
Do you want one gorgeous family portrait to hang over your mantel? Or is what you envision a beautiful coffee table book with many images taken from the session to include a big group shot, smaller groups and maybe some individuals or details? Maybe it’s holiday time and your only goal is to get an image for a holiday card? Are you expecting a new baby and you would like a lovely birth announcement as well as an album for your child to pass down for generations?
Take some time before you even contact a photographer to decide what is important for you. This is for a few reasons. Obviously, it will help you choose a photographer that provides the products that best fit your needs, but also it helps the photographer shoot for the end product. I recently did a shoot for a family that hadn’t had a family portrait in ages. Mom specifically wanted to change out her gallery wrap wall, which was a variety of images printed as canvas wraps and hung together on the wall. Even though I always try to keep gallery wraps in mind when shooting, I was especially thoughtful to do so in this instance. I know that a gallery wrap needs lots of extra space to wrap around the edges without losing anyone’s head, feet or even the stunning mountain range behind.
If your goal is to get everyone looking and smiling for one great group portrait, I am going to start there and focus all my energy on that. If you prefer more lifestyle shots, and you let me know that a storyboard frame of multiple images or an album is your preferred way to show off your images, then I am going to take a more casual approach, not finely trying to pose every shot, but letting a little more spontaneity happen.
Are you starting to see why this question is incredibly important, if not imperative?
Another reason that it’s best to have a final vision in mind for your photographs is this. If you know you want a large canvas of your snuggled up newborn to hang over her crib, consider the color in that room. During your shoot, we can guide the color palate to a place that coordinates with your baby’s nursery. Likewise, if you imagine that family portrait over the mantel, what does that room look like? This will help you answer the “what to wear” question as well. If this lovely family above was to be hung in a monochromatic, light room, the blues and colors might overwhelm the room instead of complimenting it. Yes, you love that bright yellow shirt you own, but will it be an eye sore in a calm, muted room when hung on the wall?
Lastly, I shall address the ever-present issue of “Will I get the digital files?” Photographers grapple with this question ALL THE TIME. See, most of us became photographers because we delight in seeing our images being enjoyed by our clients, and that goes far beyond a computer screen. That being said, we also know that clients want to show off their final product over Facebook, family blogs, or photo sharing galleries with grandma and the entire family. Research different photographers ahead of time and discuss these concerns. For example, some photographers will offer digitals for sale straight away…usually at a premium price. Many might provide clients digital files after a designated minimum order. You might find them worked into collections or packages. And there are some who firmly believe that printed images are the ONLY thing they want to provide clients, and they do this with the highest level of customer service.
Although the easy answer to this one burning question may be a “disc of images”, you might be missing out on what a professional photographer can really do for you. We are here to help you long after the shoot and are proud to give clients heirlooms for their family. Be open to options, think it through and when you do, you will feel more empowered to find the best photographer for you.