Mamas. The hardest part is over, you’ve decided to do family photos. You put on your big girl pants and set your mind, and I’m so proud. As wedding and family photographers at Sugar Rush Photo + Video, we have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly in family photo-wear, and now we are here to help you get ready for some perfectly styled photos.
Now, back to the process!
First of all, book the shoot. Whatever your weight is, whoever has braces or acne right now, no matter what you NEED pictures every year with your littles. They grow so fast, and if you don’t get them taken now, it’ll be graduation and you’ll realize you haven’t gotten professional photos since kindergarten. I PROMISE, you want them.
Once you’ve booked the shoot with a professional, not your neighbor who has a camera, or someone advertising photo sessions for $50, but an actual photographer with a business license and a website and portfolio you LOVE. If you love moody candids, don’t book a studio photographer. If you love sunny golden photos, don’t hire a photographer with a dark, dramatic editing style. I PROMISE your photos will look exactly like their portfolio minus a little, so if the portfolio is iffy, keep looking for your unicorn. Also, you want someone who shoots candids, too.
Now, book hair and makeup, professionally done, so mama gets pampered. If mama looks and feels hot, the pictures will be amazing. So SPOIL yourself, get your artist booked, and plan it out. Also false lashes ALWAYS. Even if you never have worn them in your life, they make all the difference in camera, so plan on your makeup being a little “extra” when your artist is done, because they know more is more on photo day. Many makeup artists will come to you to doll you up for a small fee, or you can go to their studio! Plan on 1.5-2 hours for hair + makeup, and account for drive time and a potty break and someone running late, so you don’t pay for wasted time that you could have spent getting magical photos done. Your photographer will have favorites to choose from, so don’t be afraid to ask!
Now, GO SHOPPING! Think of your location, your photographer’s style, and what you want on your walls! If you want poppy fields, book in July, tulips, book April, sand dunes, mountains, golden fields, whatever you choose, pick outfits that go with the location, and make some magic.
Here’s some top tips for choosing your family outfits!
1 Pick your outfit first, then plan everyone else’s around it! If you look hot, you’ll love the photos!
2 Go coordinated, not matchy. You want to look like you just happened to all coordinate the perfect colors and found yourselves in a sunflower patch, not like you let Grandma pick the denim jeans, black shirts, and turquoise scarves. I know, because I was a new photographer once upon a time, and I made people wear this. And it was rough.
3 Pick a color scheme, then play. Fall colors blend well, whites and mints go great in sand, and sweaters and plaid in pine trees are always a good idea! Avoid clashing colors, and try to choose tones that look good with your skin. I love matching families to their home colors, so when the prints are on the wall, they don’t have burgundy and gold outfits in a white and yellow beach house. Plan with your numbers, so you don’t have three in gold and one in black, balance your colors around so the photos are balanced, and it’s always cute to coordinate the girls and the boys!
4 Don’t be afraid to be dressy. If you want some stark white sand dunes photos in tuxedos and red dresses, go for it. This is the time to go all out! If you want to snuggle in the wintery pines in sweaters and boots, you do you. There are so many cute variations on the same color schemes, and if you match your surroundings, you’ll look amazing!
5 Golden Hour. The BEST light happens during the last 2 hours of daytime. If you’re booking a mini session, book it during the last hour. If you’re doing a full shoot, go for the last 2. “Rise” is our favorite sunrise/sunset app, all you do is enter the location and the date, and it accounts for the time changes and tells you when to plan for! SO awesome! This is how we get so many of our golden, glowy photos! Aside from our editing and presets, the light adds so much golden magic, so if you can swing it, make it happen during golden hour!
6 Details matter. Black socks on dad and the littles, wiped booger-free noses, bring a comb and hairspray in the car just in case, and take care of hot pink chipped nails before the shoot. Little girl chipped nails stand out like a sore, painted thumb on a 24×36 canvas, so take their polish off, get your nails done, and make sure the little things are ready to go.
7 Bribery. Ice cream after, treats in between photos, their favorite candy bar at the end, anything goes on family photo day.
8 Plan with bedtime. Even if it means shooting earlier than golden hour, make sure your tiny ones aren’t tired so that happy tickling candids turn to tears because it’s time to sleep. Bring snacks, treats, whatever you need to make them happy, on this magic, stressful day.
9 Ask your photographer for small groups and individual portraits, too. Once they get the solid full family-send to grandma-photo, ask for close up individuals of each kid, and a couple photos of you and your spouse/partner, too! WAY cuter on the walls than the blue background yearbook photos. And get a one-on-one photo of you with each babe, and your partner with each babe. You’ll want it on graduation day or their wedding. Also, let’s just go back to find someone who photographs the candid moments, you’ll print more of those than the posed ones, I promise.
11 RELAX and CELEBRATE your awesomeness. Once you get there, let whatever needs to lie, and soak in your babies and teenagers while you laugh and smile and play. Don’t be stressed, it will look amazing, and I promise it all goes by too fast. YOU DID IT and you are a mother effing rockstar.