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5 things your photographer wishes you knew before coming to your photography shoot
 
1. Shoes are not important unless you particularly want them to be. Children’s feet are super cute and seeing their adorable little toes in their portraits will be much more appealing to the eye than the bottom of their smartest shoes or (if you’re the lucky parent to a threenager) their wellies.

In fact, unless you are having a formal full-length standing portrait – the whole family can ditch their shoes. Women have a tendency to wear heels which unbalances the height ratios for the family meaning that children need to be stood or sat on props to balance the image or Dads don’t like looking shorter than they actually are. Bare feet is always best or if anyone has a particular hatred of getting their feet out – plain socks that match as near as possible to the colour of their trousers. Tights are fine too. Even for Dads if they so wish!

 

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2. Fingers are in photos too! Nails might not feel like a priority when corralling your little ones out the door for their photoshoot but this is important for the whole family. Hands tend to be in portraits and dirty fingernails or chipped nail polish needs to be edited. As do mucky toe nails (see point 1). Best thing to do is pop everyone in the bath the night before. Probably not at the same time and probably not all using the same bath water either…

The editing of dirt from under finger or toe nails or the editing of chipped nail polish is very time consuming and will result in delays getting your gallery ready. Some photographers even charge extra for edits like these, the best way to avoid it is to make sure everyone in the photographs has their nails clipped and cleaned and nail polish is either removed or reapplied.

 

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3. What you wear to your photoshoot is important…especially the adults! I remember once photographing new parents with their newborn and Dad was wearing a Phat Face t-shirt. He looked very nice in his t-shirt but with his newborn on his chest all I could focus on were the massive words PHAT FACE that dominated the image. Avoid large motifs/logos; bold patterns; lots of different colours in group photographs. If in doubt, ask your photographer for advice

 

I always advise clients to choose blue. Blue goes with pretty much everything. It can be paired with jeans or more formal clothing, it goes with black, white, cream, beige, grey and can be teamed up with brighter colours without those colours overwhelming. According to colour psychology blue is the colour of trust, it is softer than black, the darker hues are slimming and unless it’s a really bright blue the colour doesn’t cast onto the skin like a bolder colour would. Blue is my go-to and most people readily have something blue in their wardrobe they can pair up to pull the entire group together. Failing that, I’ll convert everything to black and white and hope for the best…just kidding…sort of.

 

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4. If you are fair of skin this advice is for you - fake tan – just don’t…whilst it might be tempting to add a bit of colour to your skin before your photographs, fake tan is best avoided. Even if applied well and sparingly your photographer will probably have to edit the colour to tone it down unless you fake tan the entire family. Completely different story if you’re having headshots, personal branding photographs or boudoir portraits done and you’re the only one going to be in the frame - tan away!

 

I don’t know about you but I am the colour of milk. I would even go so far as to say I am blue more than white. I just don’t tan. And it sucks. I would love to have a healthy, natural glow but alas, I have to have a spray tan before I go abroad so I don’t blind anyone when I get my legs out at the pool. Which is fine but it’s painfully obvious that you have applied any kind of tan product in a group photograph – especially if there are children in the photographs too. My Mom has beautiful olive skin tones because she lived abroad for most of her youth and she only has to look at the sun and she tans…my son, on the other hand is like the moon – he visibly glows with paleness.  When I photographed them together recently at the studio, I had to make sure that my son was further from the strobe light than my Mom otherwise he looked deathly white and Mom looked like she’d been in a fight with bottle of fake tan and lost. Natural skin tones are easy for photographers to light at the studio and to edit afterwards, so skip the fake tan!

 

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5. It’s never the kids that aren’t looking where they’re supposed to, parents and especially grandparents – listen to your photographer! I use a rattle or I make silly noises like sneezes, whispers, I meow like a cat and sometimes I make ridiculous loud hiccup noises to get the attention of little ones who are probably sick of hearing their names called. And when I check the back of my camera between shots I can guarantee that an older family member will be the one with their mouth wide open and looking at the child that they think isn’t co-operating. If you look in the general direction of the camera when the photographer asks you to then you’re on to a winner, the children will look in their own time and you want to be ready!

 

Head-swapping in Photoshop is fairly common in family group shots especially with lots of children of different ages and should be expected but again, lots of editing will delay your gallery and your kids are never as badly behaved as you think they are and your photographer most likely has captured the shot they wanted before you whispered through gritted teeth that your little one isn’t getting a visit from Santa unless they listen, your child will most likely look at you as you bribe them and you will probably look a bit maniacal which will probably result in many extra hours of editing for your much loved photographer.

 

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Above all, your photoshoot should not be a cause of anxiety - it should be relatively painless and dare I say even enjoyable? The 1 thing ALL parents worry about is whether or not the children will willingly get in the photographs and whether or not they will smile. Relax - we can work together to play, sing, have fun and even bribe the littles but remember - it's always Grandad who's not looking at the camera!

 

Get in touch to discuss your family portrait session at the studio by emailing lisa@secretsmilephotography.com or using the Contact Lisa form on the website. Alternatively you can book your session directly using the online scheduler. Portrait sessions are £25 for the session booking fee, prints and products are available to order from your session, they can be seen on the pricing page.

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