Fall is a stressful time for parents. A new school year means a new schedule not only for the kiddos but for the entire family. After school programs, car pools, pick ups, homework, somewhere in there is eating, working and sleeping right? Then there are parents learning the ropes with new additions who have a whole other world they’re juggling where sleep is not in there. And just when a routine is gaining momentum, it’s Halloween and before the orange even comes down, the green and red fill the aisles, the airport runway guy waving his glow stick-iest sign that the holidays are coming in fast. Even the best family organizer can fall victim. The last thing you need is one more person telling you you’re doing it wrong, which, YOU ARE DOING SO GREAT! I mean, look at you here, researching how to make your life easier! We are all humans doing our bests. But if you can keep this short list in mind of what to avoid, we can make family photo time less of a chore and more of an experience you can check off with ease.
Not Scheduling in time: As one of Drake’s Albums says, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. JK! But it is crunch time. I usually block off a weekend in early November for the stragglers. But once Thanksgiving comes, turnaround times get tight. Photographers might be out of town visiting their own families. Also, you will want to give time for turnaround not only from the photographer but also the print lab for Holiday card orders. I like to send a Holiday Session email to past clients and supporters of B & L in September for October sessions. This gives plenty of time for edits. If you are reading this and haven’t booked an appointment yet, put a call out on Nextdoor or your local Facebook group. Or search #townIliveinphotographer (example, #austinphotographer, #houstonphotographer) on Instagram to see their work and if they have bookings available. Don’t give up hope! You can always send out New Year cards and everyone will think you are SO ahead of the game! GO YOU!
Your outfits aren’t coordinated: While standing out in a crowd can be something positive, the family photo is not one of those times. Nor is being too matchy-matchy. I’m from a small town where fancy family portraits were displayed in the mall for all to see. Those families were GREAT at matching. The most popular look was the ultra pressed button up white shirt with blue jeans, which is a decent look for one person in the country standing next to a fence but not for 5 people in the same frame standing next to you and the same fence. Find a good in between. Before the photo-session is a perfect opportunity to take yourself on a little shopping spree. I always recommend hitting up Nordstrom Rack, T.J. Maxx or Ross. Shopping doesn’t have to be expensive, ( I usually go straight to the clearance racks, TBH.) I have many tips on how to dress for branding, headshots, et. cetera, but for family photos the idea is simple, be cohesive and look sharp doing it.
While planning for multiples takes more effort it does not have to be more stressful. Other than the basic rules of avoiding large logos, ultra fad fashion, cartoons and Disney characters there is one easy tip to make sure the family is looking like a connected unit. Treat everyone’s outfits as if they were accessories to one big ensemble. Imagine little Emma’s outfit as the handbag to mom’s or dad’s. Each article of clothing should be thought of as an extension to a main theme. A great way of double checking you’re headed in the right direction is to lay everyone’s choices on the bed to make sure nothing looks too out of place.
Waiting until the morning of to make sure you’re ready: You are on track. Your session is scheduled. It’s the morning of. You went shopping for the entire fam so you know the outfits are in the bag. F*$#! THE OUTFITS ARE ALL CRUMPLED IN THE BAG! We’ve all been there. Something is in the calendar. We think we have more time than we do, then we get an added surprise of something that just slipped through the cracks. It happens. Whether it is unpressed clothes, forgetting on top of our own hair we’re getting two other people ready, things can escalate fast and it’s easy to to feel as if the morning is coming undone and sadly more often than not it is the organizer who ends up having to maneuver through it. Being rushed is no way to start a morning or a photo-session. The day before is the perfect time to check for chipped nail polish, have a relaxing bath, avoid alcohol and get a good night’s sleep. Get the team to help by packing a bag the night before to include face wipes, a change out for a little that is not yet potty trained, bribes, I mean snacks for everyone. Be sure clothes are pressed and hanging ready to change into before heading out. And don’t forget to ask for assistance when it is your turn to get ready.
It can all seem very overwhelming for sure. I have seen some things in my handful of years working with children and families but in the end the most important thing to remember about the holiday photo-session is it is not about being picture perfect but it is to perfectly capture this moment in time of you and loves.