I love these pictures so much! This is my family! I admit, I don’t have my own family photographed as often as I recommend other people do. It’s for some of the same reasons other people don’t schedule family photo shoots. If only knowing something would be a good idea would get us to do it, right? So this day was long overdue, and very special. We went with my friend Emily Wilson and her family to a Sussex County, NJ tree farm with plans to have a good time, pick our Christmas trees, and get some Dougherty family photos.
I’ve been photographing families in New Jersey and NYC for over a decade. My tips for how to have a successful family photo shoot have evolved quite a bit over time. My clients receive a page about what to expect and how to prepare, and as I’ve changed it over time, I show up to a lot more messy houses and kids in pajamas. And that’s perfect. My “what to wear” has become less about fashion and more about humanity. Our emotions and how we process them…that’s what matters most when we’re being photographed. So if you’re thinking about hiring a family photographer, here are four tips for you.
- Hire a photographer you connect with. I’m lucky to have a very close friend who is a photographer, but it’s okay if you don’t. Find a photographer you feel like you want to be friends with. One whose work you look at and feel a connection to. One you feel like you can be yourself around. Sometimes an e-mail exchange and a look at her website is all you need. Maybe you’re in a Facebook group together, live in the same town, or follow her on social media, and feel like you have a lot in common, or you like what she says, or you just get a good vibe.
- Do some emotional work beforehand. My kids are crazy about Daddy. They love me, too, and we have great relationships, and I know this, but sometimes I do feel a little left out. I knew they wouldn’t be by my side or hugging me the whole time Emily was photographing us. I had done some emotional work about this, and talked to Emily about it. So I was able to comfortably watch my kids run ahead with Daddy sometimes and enjoy the natural interactions we had, without repeatedly asking them for hugs. If you have concerns about the way you are going to be feeling during your shoot, or about the way the pictures will make you feel, talk to your photographer about them. Sometimes speaking your concerns and having them validated is all you need.
- Do something you know your family will enjoy. I love photographing families at home and encourage all families to be photographed at home at least once (if not annually)! Our last shoot with Emily was at home, and I treasure those photos. I don’t usually pick locations for my clients, but Emily happens to be great at that, and since she knows what my family enjoys, I was happy to go with her recommendation. If you’re going to be at home, think of a couple activities you like to do together. If you want outdoor photos not at your home, consider somewhere special to you. Often, the more simple, the better. Park down the street? Perfect.
- Do it! If you’re waiting to lose weight or get new clothes or until spring or whatever, stop waiting. Kids grow and change so fast, and adults don’t change as fast as we sometimes want to. Even if you have trouble embracing who you are right now, don’t let that stop you from documenting it. This is me, at my weight and with my minimalist wardrobe. The way my kids know me. The way I’ve been living my life.
I’m glad I followed my own advice, because I LOVE these photos of my family!!! Thank you, Emily!!!
If you’re considering having your family photographed, go back and read the text of this post if you skipped it, and then let’s talk about it! Contact me your favorite way. Can’t wait to connect with you!
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E-mail using the contact link above