We have all been there. You're lined up, standing awkwardly with your family, and then the photographer says the cringe-inducing phrase, “Everyone, look at me and say Cheese!”. Most photographers (myself included!) have been guilty of using this technique at some point in their career. If a photographer doesn't go into a session with the priority of capturing genuine interaction and connections, it's almost impossible for the result to be images that have authentic emotion.
Over the last several years, my style of photography has shifted. The way I approach a session now is fundamentally different. I will always take a few images with everyone looking at the camera, but my real goal is to capture those true, intimate moments. In my experience, the more comfortable my clients are, the more likely the final images will be a true expression of their family. I invest time before the session to get to know them: all of my sessions include a complimentary pre-session consultation where I chat with my clients about their children, learn their likes and dislikes, and hear about their unique personalities. When I pick up the camera to photograph their sessions, I usually feel like we're old friends. My clients love the whole experience too and often say things like, "We had so much fun!", and "That was so natural feeling!". When I, as the photographer, am relaxed and having a good time photographing my clients, they're having a good time too and those natural interactions with their loves are achieved so much more easily.
There are a lot of great tips that I could give you about getting ready for a portrait session that just focus on timing and preparation... Like, Maternity Sessions are best scheduled between 28-34 weeks. This will vary for every mama, depending on how you are carrying. Ideal timing is when you still feel great and your belly is round and prominent, and before you get too heavy and uncomfortable. And, Newborn sessions are ideally scheduled between 5-10 days old, when your baby is still sleepy and squishy and curling up like they were in the womb. Babies older than two weeks will not curl up the same way that they do when they're brand new, but you can still get great images if you've missed the "newborn" window. Older babies will start to show personality, give great eye contact and often will have started to fill out with sweet chunkiness and adorable baby rolls. These are important things to know and take into consideration while you are planning for your session, but won't help you achieve those intimate connections.
The number one thing that I can tell you that will result in connected images with your family is to just relax. You may think this is obvious, but it's really, really hard to put into practice. I think as mothers, we all want our children to be perfect, and look perfect, and behave in a perfect way at all times, but that is just not reality. I want to capture that unique personality - the pouting 2 year old, the melting down three year old, and the goofy eight year old. Don't tell your children to look at the camera and smile. When they are misbehaving, pouting and crying don't yell at them, or try and bribe them. Create moments. Talk to them. Cuddle them. Tell them secrets. Share a joke. Lift them over your head. Let them run. These are your imperfectly perfect children. These are the memories that you need to have.
For more tips to create organic portraits and connections in your session, download my free guide, "Creating Organic Portraits and Connected Images"
I am Jamie and redwagon photography is my boutique, cozy home based studio in Edmonton, Alberta. Organic, natural light portraits that showcase connection and emotion are my specialty.
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