The Artsy Lens Lifestyle Photography | General Tips
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Photo Session Prep: General Tips


So you have booked your family photo session.  Good for youI  Now you have to decide what you and everyone else in your family is going to wear.  Some of you might be inserting some choice words at the idea of tackling this.  Have no fear.  I have a few tips that will make your life much easier.

  1. Start with your toughest customer.  Who is the hardest to shop for in your family?  If they already have an outfit that will work use that as your inspiration.

  2. Pick clothes based on the location/time.  If you are doing an outdoor photo shoot avoid going too dressy.  It usually does not blend well with a park type setting.  Also do not forget the time of year.  It is hard to get a kid to smile in a sleeveless dress in 50 degree weather.  Lastly, do not forget about time of day.  If you have a morning shoot the light will be lovely, but there will be dew on the ground.  Wearing a white skirt is probably not the best idea, unless you are go with the flow and understand you will be visibly dirty after sitting on wet grass.

  3. Choose a neutral base color pallet with pops of color.  I usually tell people to pick one neutral color such as navy blue, brown, white or grey.  I try to avoid black (more on that in a minute).  For example, if you have a beach summer shoot go for a white pallet with pops of coral or turquoise.  If it is a fall photo shoot try for navy blue with pops of orange or green.  One of my favorites is a brown/cream base with pops of maroon for fall.  You can certainly use more then one pop of color.  If you go back to the navy blue base you could do pops of green/pink. The key to making this idea look natural is not everyone should be wearing the pop of color.  Another tip to making it look natural is to mix up the types of clothing everyone is wearing.  So if you have a dad and son both wearing white dress shirts put one in a brown corduroy jacket or a vest to help mix things up a bit.  Everyone wearing a camo jumpsuit is not coordinated, it is crazy!  So do not worry about everyone matching perfectly and just keep the outfits in the color scheme.

  4. Cut, fabric, and layering will slim you, not the color black.  Yes if you take a picture in a white t shirt and then in a black t shirt you will look slimmer in the black.  However, if you take a great button down white shirt that fits well and has some darting and wear that with a fabulous necklace and structured jacket, you are going to look better/slimmer then you ever would in the t shirt.  So pay attention to the cut and quality of fabrics.  If you have to pull at an item after putting it on to look nice, do not wear it for pictures!  It will more then likely bunch up and you will be unhappy with the extra attention drawn to that area.  If you do use a black base color be careful with the neckline.  Crewnecks and turtlenecks can produce a “floating head look.”  Opt for scoop or v-necks instead and try and work in the pop of color with a scarf or necklace.

  5. Be careful with loud patterns and stripes.  As a general rule patterns and stripes can bunch up in odd ways and not photograph as well as solid colors.  So if you are going to wear something with a pattern, snap a quick picture of yourself both standing and sitting to see if this pattern will work.

  6. Get inspiration elsewhere.  Use resources like Pinterest or photography websites for examples you like of coordinated families.  

  7. Consider your home decor: Choose colours that you like as you will be hanging these photos on the walls of your home – if your home is neutral go with neutrals or the pop of colour you are after!

  8. Choose dark socks and footwear (unless it’s a barefoot photo on the beach).  Wear clean and good looking shoes (in good shape).

  9. If getting a haircut or new hairdo, make your appointment at least 2 weeks prior to your portrait session.

  10. Iron your wardrobe!  Or wear materials that don’t wrinkle. I can’t stress this enough.  Every detail will show up in your portraits, so be sure to iron out any wrinkles, remove lint and loose threads. 

  11. Consider wearing dresses or tops that cover your arms partially or fully if you are concerned about how your upper arms look. (Many tend to feel this way.) Bare arms tend to stand-out in a photo and can expose more skin than your face, thus drawing attention to your arms, not your beautiful face!

  12. Don’t forget accessories like jewellery for the ladies/girls, and neck ties (if wanted) for the men/boys and/or hats to wear to change up the look (also cute for kids). Textures like scarves and belts add more interest to your outfit. If you wear eye-glasses all the time, feel free to bring them, but if you can do without your glasses or have contact lenses, this is a better option.  Eyeglasses can cause a reflection of the flash or nearby objects.

  13. Makeup:
    • Lips – any shiny lip gloss in a colour like berries or browns are great.   Avoid frosts or glitters that will reflect light.  Avoid dark colours.  Bring your lip gloss along for refreshing!
    • Face – a light application of non-SPF foundation helps smooth out the skin and cover any blemishes.  The goal is for a matte finish, not a glow so avoid bronzers.  Finally, brush a light translucent powder all over to cut down on shine.
    • Cheeks – light blush to add some colour.  Avoid bronzers or glittery blushes.
    • Eyes – brown/black eyeliner and a little mascara to bring out the lashes is fine.  Avoid eye shadows with shimmer or glitter.
    • Eyebrows – be sure to trim, pluck if needed.  The camera and lenses are very powerful, so even a rogue hair will show!  If waxing, be sure to do it a week prior to avoid having redness..
    • Hairspray – I can’t say enough about spritzing your hair with some spray, especially long hair!  Most of my photo sessions are in the late afternoon to catch a gorgeous golden halo-light, but it also can highlight the flyaway hairs, so please spray your locks if you can.
    • Manicure/Pedicure – it’s amazing the detail the camera can capture, so be sure to get a fresh manicure and coat of nail polish and pedicure (if you’ll be wearing open toed shoes).  Avoid extremely bright or fluorescent nail colour.

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