choosing the perfect time, location, outfit & More!
A NOTE ABOUT THIS GUIDE
I'm so excited to be working with you and I can’t wait for our time together during your family session! It’s normal to be a little nervous about your session. I always tell people that I still get nervous before having my photos taken - and I do this for a living!
This guide is for lifestyle sessions, which can range from family, children, maternity, quinces, teens, etc. Lifestyle sessions are gently posed, and more camera-aware.
There is a lot to think about when it comes to planning your family session and since I get asked the same things over and over again, I thought it would be the most beneficial if I put together a guide that walks you through everything you need to know.
I'll cover what to wear, whether to bring pets & how to manage them, location ideas and more!
Thanks to our year-round "season" here in South Florida, family sessions can take place anywhere and any time! I've found that there isn’t a “good” or “bad” time to take your photos. I normally plan sessions based on a particular “look” a family has in mind, spring flowers for example, or based on schedules.
I don't set a time limit on my lifestyle family sessions. These sessions typically last about an hour and a half and when when I can—I love to begin sessions about one to one and a half hours before sunset. I prefer to shoot when the sun is lower in the sky to avoid harsh shadows and bright sun patches. The first two hours after sunrise is also an ideal time to shoot. It's typically cooler, too - we all know how harsh the Florida sun can be!
I schedule sessions during what we believe will be the best light of the day - which means that it’s super important to be on time. If you’re late to an evening session, we could run out of light before we’ve finished shooting and if your session takes place in the morning, the sun gets more harsh as it rises.
Although not as relaxed as documentary "Day in the Life" sessions where you can literally stay in your PJ's all day, lifestyle family sessions are not stuffy, and a ton of fun!
We'll get plenty of "camera-aware" photos and candids alike. I may even pull the children aside for some special headshots. In between, I'll gently guide you into poses and give fun prompts that'll highlight the connection you share.
SOUTH FLORIDA LIFESTYLE FAMILY SESSIONS
If we're not shooting at their homes, I love when families choose a location for their session that complements their lifestyle. For example if you're a coastal kind of family, it might be fun to spend time at the marina or take the boat out for a couple hours. Or maybe you're more traditional and just want a beautiful park with lush greenery. The best session locations are often meaningful places to the family; however, I'm also happy to make recommendations. From county parks to ice cream shops, the options for lifestyle family session locations are endless!
Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
Spanish River Library
Worth Avenue, Palm Beach
CLASSIC & ELEGANT
Jupiter Beach Lighthouse
Matheson Hammock Marina
Las Olas, Fort Lauderdale
Downtown West Palm Beach
Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park
Amelia Earhart Park
The Old Grove
State Park Hike
Sailing / Boating
The above locations are all beautiful but I also love exploring meaningful locations with my families!
I don't personally have a dog, (YET!) but I imagine they're a HUGE part of your family, which is why I love when families choose to incorporate pets into their session. Keep in mind that bringing a pet along often means that we’ll need to choose a pet friendly location.
I recommend planning for your pet to be at the first part of your session and then either dropping them off or having a friend take them home (unless of course we're shooting in your home, then the pet stays.) We won’t use the pet in every single photo so it’s also nice to have a friend available to hold him or her in between shots.
If you’re going to bring a pet, we recommend exercising your pet before the session and bringing your pets favorite toy or treats! Depending on your pet’s fur type, it might also be a good idea to groom them before the shoot.
TIPS FOR LOOKING YOUR BEST
When picking outfits I recommend keeping in mind the word “complement” rather than “match.” For example, if dad is wearing a blue and pink pastel plaid shirt, then mom may want to choose a long, soft blue dress. It can also be a great idea to choose “color-families,” such as pastels or jewel tones.
Generally families pick two complimentary colors for their family session like mustard and cranberry, or navy and yellow, and then add in neutrals like denim or khaki.
For beach sessions, tropical colors like coral, turquoise and even pink work beautifully on the sand. Please do not show up in white shirts and khakis - you don't want to dress like the beach.
DOCUMENTARY SESSIONS - Stay in your pajamas for all I care. If we're photographing a regular, normal, day in your life, there's no need to pick out an outfit. Just be comfortable!
Heels lengthen legs but if your heels aren’t comfortable for walking, bring an extra pair of shoes to slip into in between shots.
I love the way larger patterns photograph - just be careful not to choose a pattern that is too small - it may accidentally make your photo look a little too busy.
Softer, pastel colors tend to photograph better than bright colors - especially since bright colors could reflect on your skin. I love bright, neon dresses, but I don’t love the neon reflection they add to your complexion.
for the ladies
You can’t go wrong with nice slacks and a crisp shirt.
Be careful not to choose a pattern that is too small - it may accidentally make your photo look a little too busy. Softer, pastel colors tend to photograph better than bright colors - especially since bright colors could reflect on your skin.
Try to avoid crew neck t-shirts, linen shirts that may wrinkle easily, and sports jerseys.
for the gents
what to do if it rains
During the summer months, it’s typical for me to schedule two family session dates. A primary date and a rain date. Having two dates helps us make sure that your photos happen in a timely manner. Coordinating schedules can be tough and I've found that the best way to make sure my families get the look they have in mind for their photos is to schedule two dates at the same time.
I'll check in the week of your family session to confirm the time & location we’re meeting and the weather. I know it takes a lot of time to get ready for photo sessions and it’s the worst to get dressed up and drive out to your session only to have it rain. Let me know what works best for you - but if the weather looks like it won’t be great, I typically try to make the call at least 3 hours in advance. (Or more if you need more time!)
If you or a member of your family (lets be honest, it's usually the kids) comes down with a cold or sniffle and is still generally in a good mood, the shoot can still happen! You know them best, so if feel they may not want to participate in any capacity, please let me know ASAP.
What about a scrape, scab, black eye, or cut themselves some trendy bangs the day before? It's still possible to shoot! Obviously large wounds and bruises aren't ideal, so that may require a reschedule, but don't be afraid of a little rash. Most things are easily taken care of in Photoshop.
When it comes to posing for your lifestyle family session, you don’t need to worry about a thing! I'll guide you through the entire process beginning with “poses” that are super easy and natural. If I tell you to do something that feels a little funny, it’s probably because I know it’s going to make you laugh - and that’s the photo I'm actually looking for.
Throughout your session, I'll keep an eye on your hair, makeup and outfits to make sure things stay in place. I want you to feel as relaxed as possible and enjoy your time together!
If you booked a documentary "Day in the Life" session, you might be wondering just how we're going to fill that time. Here are some suggestions to consider, but the options are endless!
Ice Cream Shop
Beach or Pool
Bathtime (kids or pets!)
These suggestions totally work for lifestyle sessions, too. We'll just save the activity based stuff for last!
Most family session galleries are delivered within fourteen business days. Weekends are usually reserved for weddings and photo sessions, so please be patient during peak wedding season.
HOW DOES THIS ALL GO DOWN?
After your session, I will get to work on culling your images down to the very best of the best (typically between 45-65 images) then editing those images and getting them up into your gallery. Once they're ready, I'll be in touch to schedule your 24-hour slideshow window.
When you get the slideshow link, I encourage you to make an event of it! Queue it up on your TV or a large computer screen and gather the whole family around (sound up!)... the first time you see your photos is always the best.
Once you've selected and paid for your collection, your gallery will open for thirty days, preloaded with your print credit and set for you to download the number of files that corresponds with your collection.
Downloading your files:
Once you've decided which images you'd like to use for your download credit (no need to choose if you go with Collection Three), I'd encourage you to do that immediately.
The process is simple:
select the images and use the down arrow in the upper right corner of your gallery - click on that and the system will walk you through the download process. The images will download as a zip file,
which you can double-click on to expand. I suggest you make a second copy of the expanded files, then save the two copies to two different locations - I generally recommend that one copy be saved to an easily accessible drive (either on your computer or on an external hard drive), and that the other get saved to the cloud (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.).
Copyrights (and wrongs):
Once you've got your digital files in hand, you are free to print them when, where, and as often as you wish - you can use them to make holiday cards, share on your social media pages or personal blog, etc. The only things you can't do are related to the resale of your photos or use for commercial/business purposes. For instance, if you authored a book, you'd need additional permission to use one of the photos on the dust jacket, and you wouldn't be able to enter one of the photos into a contest and win prize money for it. Otherwise, you've got free rein.
Printing your images:
While everything that I offer in my store is printed in professional labs and guaranteed to be beautiful, I also recognize that you may want to print your images yourself, and thanks to those
digital files, you absolutely can! I recommend mpix.com for online prints. Be sure to de-select any color correction options, and be sure to upload the original files you downloaded, not copies. The files you receive from me should allow you to print up to 20x30" at minimum.
Here's a reminder of some of my very favorite offerings you'll see in your gallery store:
Your favorite images are professionally printed on archival quality photo paper with your choice of a semi-gloss or deep matte finish.
These prints are available in a variety of sizes, with or without a white border, and are perfect for framing and hanging on the wall or giving as a special gift.
Matted Folios hold two or three images printed on Fuji Lustre Paper or Fine Art Matte Cotton Rag paper. Prints are permanently mounted to a beautifully textured mat board. There is a discrete magnet which helps with keeping folio closed.
Print boxes are made from strong wooden core and wrapped in beautiful linens. They are offered in 4x6, 5x7, or 8x10 and include 10 prints.
A 10x10 lay-flat book with 40 pages (one photo on each page.) A lovely clamshell box made from wood and wrapped with matching linen is included. Front of the box is without personalization. All book cover embossing is in gold only.
These fine art canvas wraps are printed directly onto museum-quality canvas using archival ink.
A sleek natural wrap creates beautiful image continuity, adding dimension to your photo.
These canvases arrive ready to hang with black paper backing, sawtooth hangers, and bumpers. Depth: 1.5
Printed on acid-free archival matte Cotton Rag paper (310gsm) with a rich and slightly textured finish.
These gorgeously feathered edge prints create truly timeless heirlooms, with exceptional quality.
Available in a variety of sizes.
I know that this guide is long and hopefully it covers everything you need to know to prep for your family session! However if there is something I missed, or you need a recommendation feel free to email