It’s time for another edition of our monthly series “Ask a CMpro” here on the CM photography blog in which we give our CMpros one question and they dish. Their answers alone are always inspiring and this week we asked them, “What is your favorite advice to offer to clients before their session?”
*image by Jenni Jones
Lisa Tichané, France
My favorite advice would be: don’t expect your children to behave or follow directions. Let them be themselves, and I will get fabulous captures of them (and of you all as a family).
When I started out as a family photographer I quickly realized that parents were usually nervous about how their kids would behave during the session, because they badly want the session to be a success, but also because they are afraid to be judged if their kids are wild or don’t do what they are told. And nervous parents = super nervous kids, which is the last thing you want during a family session. So I make sure that my clients know beforehand that I LOVE wild kids, and that I certainly don’t expect them to pose for me. That way, everybody can relax and just have fun!
Katie Woodard, Arizona
My favorite advice: Please do not worry, it is my job to make you and your kids look great. You just show up and I will do the rest!
Michelle DeMoss, California
To families with small children I tell the parents not to worry or get upset if the little one/ones wander off and start playing with sticks or rocks or just explore. I remind them that that is what little kids do and I LOVE to capture that little part of childhood. The parents usually love these pictures the best. Or if there is an extra clingy toddler who doesn’t want to look at the camera, I can get the sweetest pictures of the child cuddling their parents. I promise them they will miss that part of childhood when the kid is bigger and doesn’t want to hug as often. For newborns sessions, I tell the parents, expect the baby to pee, poop, and spit up on EVERYTHING I own and I remind them that everything I own is washable and will not be ruined by a baby accident. I also tell them to expect to hang out with me for 3-4 hours and the baby will have fussy periods and that’s just part of the session. I tell them, “If I’m not worried about it, you can’t worry about it”. That usually brings the stress level down.
Beth Orey, Texas
Just relax and try to have fun! I love for my sessions to be laid back and for you to have a good time. Kids won’t always cooperate or smile at the camera but I promise we always get beautiful images that really capture your family at this moment in time.
Jenni Jones, Texas
Since I shoot mostly newborns, I have seen parents get super nervous about their baby making a “mess” on my stuff. So I always let them know ahead of time (and remind them when I arrive) that my stuff WILL get dirty – that I rarely have a session where something doesn’t get ‘something’d’ on, and everything is washable. Letting them know that it’s ok – I’m leaving their baby diaperless for a few hours so it’s pretty much inevitable – often eases their concerns.
Sam Covert, Canada
Relax and be themselves! I want to capture real, candid moments of families interacting together… Not forced, awkward “everyone smile at the camera” kind of moments.
Kellie Penn, Illinois
I am primarily a wedding photographer, so when my clients arrive for their engagement sessions I always tell them: I promise that the first 5 minutes are the worst. After that, I promise it gets better because they will be having so much fun and will be just enjoying the evening together. I tell them to not overthink it. I want them to be comfortable & to be themselves. And I remind them that their hands should be touching at all times! It helps make their portraits more connected & less stiff if they are touching each other!
Amy Schuff, California
One thing I love to tell my clients is to treat our session like they are just having a normal fun family night, and I get to be an honorary family member. It takes the idea of it being a “photo session” and morphs it into just another night doing what they do day in and day out…being a family who loves to spend time together.
Ashley Westphal, Georgia
Mine is specifically related to wardrobe. I want my clients (seniors) to make sure to bring a variety of lengths of clothing on the bottom. For example, all dresses or all short shorts will seriously limit my posing, as we are mindful of modesty.
Kelly Jones, Ohio
I always ask clients to communicate any special requests to me ahead of time, whether that be a certain shot they really want me to take or if they are bringing something special from home that they want incorporated somehow into the session. I like to know what they have in mind ahead of time so that I have time to plan for it during the session or figure out a fun way to pull off something special for them.
Christy Johnson, North Carolina
I like to ask my clients to give me a little time and space to connect personally with their children. A few quiet moments getting to know each other will always result in natural and relaxed expressions without the use of bribes or threats or crazy antics behind my head!
Beth Wade, North Carolina
For my newborn clients I always tell them to please not rush the day of their appointment and give them a 30 minute window to arrive. I also let them know we will start out with the family shots so that way they can just sit back and relax, plus then dad can take other siblings to the playground nearby or even back home while mom and I finish the shoot. Most clients love this since they will be in my hot studio for a few hours. I remember the first 2 weeks after my babies were born and this would have made me feel less stressed about the session too!
Lauren Harris, Arkansas
I only shoot seniors so my advice is typically clothing related. I tell them to find favorite pieces in their closet to use for their session rather than buy new pieces. I’ve found that clients who buy clothing specifically for their senior session usually buy pieces that they aren’t completely comfortable in (which shows in their images!). I tell them to bring mostly classic pieces for their session and then choose a 1 or 2 trends to incorporate as well!
Lauren Sanderson, Alabama
I usually tell my family clients “Look, I know this might feel awkward at times, things will probably get chaotic, and you’ll think there’s no way you’re going to get a good picture out if it… but just relax, go with the flow, and I promise you that I will get good stuff and it will all be worth it!”
Melissa Stottmann, Delaware
Chill out! The kids will absolutely feed off of your energy. Try your clothing on beforehand and make sure everything works, but have a backup just in case. For newborn sessions, I make them aware that every baby is different and the session will take a little bit longer then a typical session and I follow the baby’s lead!
Lisa Rappa, Georgia
I often tell my clients with children, NOT to start the pressure before the session with bribing and threats that they better behave. I think when parents do this it creates a feeling for the kids that the session is something they HAVE to do and not something that could actually be enjoyable for them. So I tell them to tell the kids “We are going to a really neat place outside where we get to explore and a nice lady is going to take some pictures while we are there having fun.” This way they hopefully feel that the pictures are just a small part of their “adventure.”
Kristin Dokoza, California
Think coordinate not match when it comes to clothing choices. Wear something you will be comfortable in. When we meet I almost always have to let mom know we are not in a hurry, it’s o.k. that the kids are not smiling right away. It’s not worth it to anyone to rush. The time we spend together is going to be fun and relaxed. It really makes a difference in everyone’s expressions and posture. Not to mention a photo session should be fun! You want to look back on the images and remember the good time you had with your family.