Spring is a great time of year to get professional family portraits taken. Not only are the wildflowers in full bloom making for a beautiful backdrop, but the weather is still a bit mild so you won’t sweat through your photo session. Here are some tips from Nicole Chatham, a wedding, newborn, and family photographer for the past seven years in the greater Houston area. Her business, Nicole Chatham Photography, is the five-time winner of TheKnot.com’s prestigious “Best of Weddings” annual award, which places her in TheKnot.com’s photographer Hall of Fame.
When searching for a photographer, a recommendation by friends and neighbors is usually a good place to start. An online search might yield overwhelming results, so look for photographers listed by popular hotels or reception venues to help narrow the field.
After you’ve selected your photographer, the two of you will decide when and where to have the photo session. Chatham recommends natural outdoor settings such as a field or park with some trees or wooded areas for the background. Scheduling photo sessions about one to two hours before sunset gives a nice evening glow.
If you choose to take pictures with bluebonnets, Chatham suggests wearing pastel colors, such as soft purple, yellow and pink to offset the blues and greens of the wildflowers. For an authentic Texan look to go with the state flower, wear cowboy boots and jeans. Alternatively, Sunday best dresses and sandals make for great bluebonnet shots as well. Dress comfortably and avoid being what Chatham refers to as “matchy-matchy” (dressing all family members in the exact same outfit or color) – go for a coordinated look instead.
If you have small children in your family, make sure they’ve had dinner or a snack before the photo shoot. It can’t hurt to bring some snacks along with you as well (M&Ms make great bribes!). For babies and toddlers, having a special toy or lovey helps bring out big smiles. A good nap before the session also helps with cooperation and smiles, too!
According to Chatham, bringing your own props gives extra special meaning to your family photos. Use the quilt that grandma made to sit on in the grass, or bring your own antique chair. Kids can pose reading their favorite book together. Your photographer will have lots of ideas, so don’t hesitate to ask what props he/she already has. Blowing bubbles or having some birthday balloons can add some lightheartedness to the pictures.
Chatham also highly recommends having a conversation before the session with your photographer to discuss the “essential shots” that you want – i.e. whole family, just kids, kids with dog, etc. – so that you can take those first before youngsters get tired out. And she says not to get stressed out if everyone isn’t looking at the camera and smiling at the same time; some of the best pictures she’s taken are when families are interacting with one another and ignoring the camera.
Give yourselves plenty of time to get ready for the session so everyone is calm and happy when the shutter starts clicking. Your photographer will likely take around 100 shots during a family session so you should have plenty of great ones to hang on the living room wall.