You’re not fooling me. Nope. I know that you were only in about 2 pictures last year; even though you took about 2 million pictures of your kids, family, friends, and pets. I also know that some Moms (and non-Moms, too!) sometimes shy away from the camera because they feel like they still have some baby weight to lose or because they just don’t photograph well. But I also know that deep down in side, you do want beautiful pictures of yourself with your children. So, to help with the PANIC that starts to set in when you think about hopping in front of the camera, here are a few tips just for Moms who are gearing up for a family photo session with me (or any other photographer, for that matter). I promise that it doesn’t have to be as scary as it seems!!!!!!
- Shop for yourself FIRST and then plan everyone else’s outfits around yours. Moms are selfless beings who are used to putting their kids first. So it’s only natural for a Mom to find a look for her kids that she LOVES for a photo shoot FIRST … leaving her to scramble later on (um, like the night before the scheduled shoot!) to find an outfit for herself. She’ll probably find SOMETHING. But it’s not necessarily something that she’ll feel amazing in. So, to completely avoid this problem, my recommendation is for Moms to dress themselves first. Pick out your outfit … the outfit that makes YOU feel just amazing!! And then coordinate everyone else’s looks around that. No matter what you pick for yourself, I guarantee that you’ll easily be able to find something for the kids that is perfect. Because let’s face it … your kids ALWAYS look adorable in anything you put on them!
- DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE NIGHT BEFORE THE SHOOT TO SHOP. Oh my. Please don’t do this. (Please.) There is a strange phenomenon that almost always occurs when you need to find something fairly specific: You won’t find it. Nope. You won’t. You’ll search every store where you know you’ve seen it in the past … but suddenly it’s not there. You feel frazzled, frustrated … and your husband keeps telling you to relax, it will be fine if you just wear that dress or those jeans. His calmness is making you even more frustrated! So now, even if you do find something great … your anxiety levels are up … and now this whole photo shoot thing has become a frustration instead of a joy. And even though you do find something great and show up for your shoot looking beautiful … all that anxiety from the day before or earlier that morning is still within you making it really hard to relax.
- If the idea of coordinating the entire family to look good together overwhelms you, then learn from (or shop in!) places like Old Navy, Gap, and Banana Republic. Anything and everything that is currently in the store coordinates with everything else. It doesn’t necessarily match perfectly … but it coordinates. And that’s really what we’re going for for a family look. So again, dress Mom first, and then grab some coordinating items for the rest of the family. (p.s. Plenty of stores have amazing clothes! The stores I mentioned are just a few examples!)
- Plan on being in the pictures. I hear this a lot: “This shoot is all about the kids. My husband and I will probably just stay off on the sidelines and watch.” But then, as we start shooting, and Mom and Dad see how much fun it is … and how pretty the location is … they decide to join in the fun! You’ll love the pictures even more if you were prepared to be in them!
- Resist the urge to wear something that you love … but doesn’t necessarily make you feel amazing. Perhaps you saw a family shoot on Pinterest that completely inspired you and now you’re trying to recreate that look for your family. Mom had on a strapless dress … and it was perfect in the shoot. Even though you don’t love your arms, you’re staying true to your vision! Stop right there … this is a recipe for disaster! All you’re going to see when you look at the pictures is your arms … and you’re going to wish, wish, wish you had not worn that STUPID strapless dress! When a woman puts on an outfit that fits her just right and accents all the right parts of her body … she feels great. And she LOOKS great, not just because of the outfit, but because of her soaring confidence. A confident woman always looks beautiful in her pictures … whether she’s still got an extra 15 pounds to lose, or didn’t have time to get her roots done, or hasn’t slept through the night in 5 years … she will still shine.
- If possible, schedule your next hair appointment for a day or so before your shoot … or if possible, for the morning of your shoot. You had to get your roots done anyway, so you mine as well take advantage of having your hair perfect for the day. Now that’s one less thing you’ll have to worry about when it comes time to get everyone dressed.
- If it’s in your budget to get your makeup done, do it! Let the makeup artist know that you’re having your pictures taken that day so that he or she can give you a look that matches your normal everyday style … but maybe with just a little extra touch of glam. There are lots of amazing makeup artists around here. I particularly love Tonya over at Oh La La the makeup studio in Wilmington. She does amazing work! Plus, she is a master at eyebrow shaping! Spending this little bit of time at the salon before a session can make you look your best … and also feel your best, too since a little pampering for an over-worked Mommy can go a long way!
- If possible, try not to plan lots of other events on the day of your shoot. Life happens … and things like unexpected traffic, boo boos, and telephone calls tend to pop up right when you have to be somewhere. So the more stress-free of a day you can plan for yourself on the day of your shoot, the less likely you are to be running around like a madwoman in order to make everything happen. There’s an added bonus to this: Your kids will respond to your calmness and cooperate more readily on the shoot.
- Ok … you’re at the shoot … now relax. I promise that you are not the only Mommy whose children sometimes refuse to listen, beat on each other, or just get wound up to the point of craaaaaaaziness! Kids are kids. And I, or any other child and family photographer, wouldn’t do this job if I minded! It doesn’t surprise me when children act a little, well, wild and crazy … and don’t worry, it never signals to me that the shoot isn’t working. I just might need to adjust my approach. Or we might need a little more time to fall into a groove where cooperation begins to occur. I’ve seen parents get so frustrated that they pretty much just give up on the shoot before we’re really done. Not only do they no longer look very happy in their pictures, but the children sense the frustration and either act out more or start to HATE being there. So … just … deep breathes! I want you to have beautiful pictures as much as you want to have them! Don’t worry that the pictures won’t turn out because of all the craziness. Crazy has never gotten in the way of my giving clients awesome pictures!
- Don’t wait until you finally lose that last 15 or 20 pounds. I’ve been trying to lose mine for the last 5 years! Instead, choose clothes that make it look you’ve already lost it. I can’t tell you what will work for you … since every woman’s body is different. Me personally, I’m an apple, so blazers go a loooooong way to make me look instantly trimmer. Check out some of the tips on What Not Wear’s Web site … they have lots of great tips for different body shape. Keep in mind also that angles go a looooong way to making women look great in their pictures. I try really hard to pay attention to this while I’m working with families. I know that Dad probably is self-conscious about his double chin or maybe his waist line, and Mom is often self-conscious about her stomach, arms, or hips. So relax and let me work the magic of angles with you!!!