Fort Worth family photography is where my heart is. I cherish the real, the candid, the everyday, the emotion, the silliness, the interactions and all of the other components that make lifestyle photography what it is.
I have people ask me all the time what makes a good lifestyle session? How do you get clients to relax? How do you go about preparing them for their session? So, here I am going to give you my 10 keys to a successful lifestyle session.
1. Dress for the occasion… Before a lifestyle session, I remind my clients that since we will be shooting the session in their home, that they should dress casually. No, I don’t want them in their pajamas. But, I also don’t want them in a suit and tie either. When shooting at home, it is important for clients to look like they belong there; so I recommend a casually-put-together outfit.
2. Keep the kids happy… This is so important in a lifestyle session; especially when there are toddlers involved. I believe in discipline and well-behaved kids as much as the next mom, but hounding behavior is a definite no-no during a lifestyle session. Parents, please know that the rules change when I walk in the door. I want your child to feel like they are able to play and be silly with me. I want them to be relaxed and calm, and I want them to feel freedom when I am there. A child will not feel these emotions with mom and dad constantly telling them “no” or begging them to sit still and smile.
3. Relax… This should go without saying but it is a huge part of having a successful lifestyle session. This is so important that I feel the need to say it again: Mom and Dad- you have to relax in order for this session to work. When you are relaxed, your baby and/or child(ren) will relax too. When you are relaxed, you are free to be silly, feel emotion and be yourself. When you are relaxed, it is reflected in the images that I capture…And that, my friends, is our biggest goal!
4. Music…Turn on the tunes! Whether it be Mozart or Disney songs, whatever helps your household feel “normal” is what we should be listening to during our session.
5. Expectations… This is a big one. As a photographer it is so important to help my clients set appropriate and realistic expectations for their lifestyle session. If the session is with a newborn that is more than 10 days old, I make sure that my clients understand that baby may not sleep a wink while I am there and that is okay! If the session involves a newborn and a toddler between 1 and 3 years old, I make sure that my clients know that the toddler will be calling the shots and may not want to be around the baby…and that is okay! I am the professional; I am the one who has dealt with all kinds of situations and know what is “normal.” It is my job to pass that knowledge on to my clients to help them better prepare for their session.
6. Take the photographer’s recommendations…This one kind of goes with what I mentioned above regarding expectations. When I send my clients a FAQ sheet and tips to prepare for our session, I fully expect them to read over it and take the recommendations to heart. Sessions that go smoothly are when clients follow these recommendations. Sessions that are chaotic are often because the recommendations were ignored. Your photographer is the professional and wants you to be happy with the session that you are likely paying a lot of money for, so why not listen to what she has to say?
7. Know what makes your child giggle… If your session involves a baby or child that is 9 months or older, it is really helpful to me if you know what makes your little one laugh. Spend some time before the session thinking through things that you do as a family that get the best giggles; and keep those tricks up your sleeve just in case. In many cases, we don’t need these tricks, but sometimes we do. So, whether it is a favorite song on Pandora, a silly noise daddy makes or words in a favorite book, plan to have these things ready just in case we need them.
8. Clean up- just a little… No, I am not asking you to have a maid service come and deep clean your house. However, I am asking you to remember that we are shooting in your home and that probably means tidying up just a tad. Personally, I am a natural light photographer, so I tell my clients ahead of time to look around their home for the rooms with the most natural light and prepare those rooms for the session. These rooms don’t need to be magazine worthy. I don’t want you to go out and buy all new furniture for our session, but I do want those bright spaces to be the best version of your house. So, take out the trash, fluff the pillows and put the dirty dishes in the sink.
9. Communicate… Photographers and clients alike, this is HUGE. You have to communicate with each other. It is the photographer’s responsibility to set expectations and help clients prepare for the session. Clients: communication is also very important on your side. If you are experiencing something that isn’t normal, if someone in your household is sick, if your toddler is very shy or terrified of strangers or if you are in the middle of moving, all these things are important and will affect your session. And they should all be communicated to your photographer ahead of time.
10. Remember what the goal is… This last one is kind of all-encompassing. Lifestyle photography is unique. It is very different than all other types of photography. You chose a lifestyle session because you wanted to capture candid, real, emotional moments in your home. So, remember that when you are planning, when the photographer is playing games with your 2-year-old, when our session ends and you didn’t hear the words, “smile for the camera” one single time. Trust your photographer and trust that the end result of your session will be exactly what you were hoping for.