Why a client guide?
The answer is so very simple! I want you to get the most out of your sessions as possible! I hope you’re here because you’ve looked through my portfolio and seen my work and have decided that my style is the way you want to go for the vision you have. Our session is a collaboration between my years of knowledge and artistic eye behind the camera and the direction and hope you have for your personal photos. In the this guide I will go over how to prep for your session (picking a location/outfit planning), what to expect during the session, and what happens after the session. All of the tips are general for families/couples/maternity/newborn but if you have an individual question on your type of session please don’t hestitate to email.
“Do we need to spend hundreds on new clothes for a shoot?” Absolutely not. Most people probably already own pieces that will work well for a family shoot and if you are sure that you don’t you could ask for friends to borrow a few pieces that might work well or you can take advantage of my client closet. This closet is a work in progress there are a few maternity dresses(they also work as regular dresses) and some regular/plus size dresses. I’m currently on the lookout for a few chioldren’s piece from small boutiques. However if you would like to purchase something new great places to shop for clothes online are Zara, H&M, Joe Fresh, Forever21, Torrid, ASOS, Free people, Wren and Ivory. If you need to find inspiration you can check out my pinterest boards here(marley link this to pinterest PLEASE). If you need help pulling together cohesive outfits please email me to let know and will do whatever I can do help! If you let me know the ages and a general feeling your aiming for I can pull together some outfits online for you. If you have pulled together outfits and are wondering if they work feel free to take a quick snap of the outfits together and email it to me. I’m happy to give my thoughts!
Do our outfits matter? Yes, yes, and more yes! What you wear definitely can shape the feeling your photos ultimately give off. I don’t particularly want to stifle anyone’s style (Ultimately this is your personal photos and your should wear what you are comfortable with) however some clothing choices just photograph better than others. If you feel 100% confident in your style choices skip ahead by all means! But if you would like to make sure you are along the right path read on. Things to avoid are definitely logos, characters on shirts, anything super brightly colored, families should avoid identical matching outfits (it’s a very dated look), and very loud prints(sometimes one can work as a focal piece). For families its great to have a cohesive look one where everything flows together and compliments each other. One way to achieve that is through similar color pallets. The colors below all work together but are all different. To make this work for outfits I would pull a few neutrals (whites, beige, grey, but not typically black) and put in a few pops of color. One way to start outfit planning for a whole family is to start with one piece and build around it. That piece could be something you already own and want to be photographed in or something you’ve fallen in love with and want to purchase. This could be mom’s piece or anyone’s in the family.
If you have taken a look through my client closet you probably realize I carry a lot of long maxi dresses. The reason is that long dresses (and skirts of course) can give a lot of movement and texture to images which can really add something special. They help from keeping things *too* casual and give things a polished look. For kids my suggestion is to not go too formal, my family sessions really rely on kids being able to play and have fun. Try not to pick any super delicate hairstyles, I love photographing play and usually ask kids to give me a lot of movement in which these hairstyles tend to keep messed up easily. For men my advice is to keep it very simple, just try not to do anything too stuffy or formal(unless that is 100% the look you are going for) ties and long sleeve button downs (short sleeves are fine) tend too look to formal. Jeans/khakis with a t-shirt is hard to beat. One thing to really consider (especially for family sessions) is to try to give your look a timeless feel. In the end, however you chose to dress for your session is completely your choice, this guide exists merely to help you make informed choices to get the absolute most of your session.
Location + Time
After choosing the date of your session the next big things to consider are the time and location. For outside sessions I almost always suggest shooting at golden hour. The reason I suggest this is because it is incredibly flattering. It illuminates everyone so well and can really add something special to the photos. During the summer this can be quite tricky with little kids because it is so late. If you absolutely cannot make golden hour work (the actual time varies from month to month summer is about an 8/830 start and fall about a 530/6 start) then I will usually suggest a location that has a lot of shade coverage. If we are shooting in the middle of the day for whatever reason that may be please be aware there can be a lot of harsh shadows, I almost never work with flash because I feel people start to perform and become hyper aware of the camera (I do work with off camera flash for wedding portraits). Indoor sessions are more flexible on the time, something you can do is email me a few pictures of the rooms you would like to work in and I can give an estimate on the most optimal time to shoot. For locations I have a few a spots that I love to work with, as a client you can always make suggestions on where you would like to shoot if it is somewhere I haven’t been I will scout and let you know if we can make it work just be aware that sometimes a location may seem really great but doesn’t really work out for the way I shoot.I do travel within 30-45 minutes of Lethbridge free of charge and select locations like writing on stone and Waterton. I do travel anywhere within Alberta for travel fees(please email for a accurate quote).
Prepping For Your Session
So what other ways can you prep for your session besides outfit planning? A few simple things can really help set out for success. Try to make sure you have plenty of time before your session to get ready so things are not rushed and cause unnecessary stress. If you are doing a family session, think about it more as a family outing/adventure rather than something super formal. Lifestyle sessions really have a relaxed feel to them and the more kids come prepared to have fun and play the more great pictures I can deliver! If we are shooting inside make sure the rooms are tidy and free of clutter. The last thing to prepare for is to get close! Unless you are doing a portrait session the best way to communicate loving connection is to actually touch! The closer you get the more connected your photos will feel.
What To Expect During a Session
I’ve broken this down into sections so you can go to the one that is most relevant to you!
Lifestyle Family/Maternity Outdoor/motherhood:
(If you are doing a maternity shoot with your older children present please refer to this section). Lifestyle is a really relaxed way of shooting it isn’t super posed but rather meant to give a more candid glimpse into your family’s connection. Instead of direct posing I usually give prompts or very simple directions to parents and kids that leave a lot of room open for interpretation. If I like what I am seeing naturally happening then I usually don’t say to much. Sometimes people can get worried they are doing the “right thing” if I don’t say too much, but truthfully if I don’t like what I am seeing behind the lens I am very quick to change things up. If I am not directing anything enjoy the moment! One thing I really suggest to parents is to try as much as possible to keep a good attitude throughout the session and not to discipline children while we are shooting but rather try as much as possible to redirect. We cannot always control children’s behavior its hard to predict on the day of your session what their attitudes will be like, but really helps is just to embrace whatever is going on. If they are super playful and happy and want to bounce and run we will go with that for awhile, if they are more cuddly and want to be held then we spend some time cuddling! Trying to mold kids emotions and expression to what you want them to be really does not photograph well! 2 hours of shooting is a lot of time and in that time most children will have a range of emotions. So it is truly best to go with the flow. If you truly need to reprimand your children during a session please try to do so as gently as possible.
Couples/Maternity (no older kids):
Expect more direction and prompting than a family session. Usually the less people in a session the prompting and directing I end up doing, which is totally normal. Again expect some light movement/walking and come with an open attitude. Usually the sessions start out a bit more light hearted and fun and move towards more emotional images at the end.
In my sessions I really encourage families to forget I’m there and to connect with each other the most. Really the only time I actually want families to make direct eye connect with the camera is when I specifically ask for it! Otherwise the best thing to do is love and interact with each other! My sessions usually involve a fair bit of activity: light walking, dancing, and running (mostly kids) please let me know if this is an issue and I can adjust.
Lifestyle Family/Maternity/Newborn Indoors:
My indoors sessions are fairly similar to my outdoor sessions except you can expect a little more direction as there isn’t usually a lot of room for kids to run and play. Lots of times while shooting indoors kids will lose interest and come in and out of frames. Again totally fine! In my experience it is way better to work with them gently rather forcing moments on them. For newborns I do suggest having their nursery/ a room with a bed/ and a couch area clean. If all else fails a room with a good window is great! Also for newborns think about some moments that aren’t completely posed that you want capture are. Somethings my clients have done in the past is bottle feed/breastfeed and sink milk baths!
You’ve done your session and your wondering what comes after? Well unfortunately its a bit of a wait. My editing time varies depending on the season. After our session is completed I give a general estimate to when you can expect your photos. I usually deliver sneaks via facebook/instagram/private message. Your privacy means the world to me and if you would not like your photos on social media please do let me know. Once your photos are finished I deliver the photos through and online gallery. From the gallery you can download your high resolution/social files. The high resolution files are quite large and are only meant for print purposes, the social size is what you will you use for your social media accounts. When printing your photos I can only guarantee accurate color results through my online gallery or high end printers. It is very likely you will see color differences using a lower end printing companies. I ask that you do not alter my work in any way as your session fee only gives you printing rights to the photos and not copyright right to alter them. I appreciate social media tags and do give a referral discount to you on your next session and the clients you refer to me (10% off your session fee for each client that books, this discount does stack and means a free session is possible, clients who are referred get 20% of their session-please let them know to mention who sent them).
Thank you for reading through this client guide! I hope that you feel confident to get the very most out of your session and photos. If you have any questions after you have read this please email me firstname.lastname@example.org