I made Top 100 in the NAPCP Unity Competition!

I never win anything. ANYTHING! I have often described myself to people as just plain unlucky when it comes to winning things. No concert tickets, free t-shirts, camera gear, home decor. I enter all those Instagram “comment to enter and tag a friend” contests and never win a thing. So imagine my surprise when this year started with me taking 2nd place in the Maternity Category for NAPCP’s Image Competition back in February and now making the Top 100 with 5 of my images in the NAPCP Unity Competition! Maybe the tides are finally starting to turn….

The top 100 were determined by judges but now the competition is open to public voting and I need your help! If you want to head on over to check out the Top 100 and cast your vote just go here. I would be ever so grateful if you voted for one of mine but vote for the image that speaks to you and help someone deserving win!

These are my entries!

5 Ways to Find Out if your Photographer is Legit

It happened to me again. A client told me a horror story of their experience with another photographer that they hired as a gift for their sister’s newborn session in another area….and you guys, it’s the same story I have heard time and time again!!!!

“I hired this photographer who seemed like a professional and their social media account showed lots of beautiful photos, but then I hired them and they were not good/took my money and ghosted me/didn’t deliver my photos for 13 weeks!”.

Has this ever happened to you?


Do you know why?

It is because as a whole, the photography industry is an unaccredited profession. It does not require a college degree, a business license (if you’re operating under your counties income limits you can get by without one), a certification, or any other kind of regulation to perform photography services. That means there are a WHOLE LOT of people picking up a camera and becoming “professional” photographers every day… because the only thing required to do it is a camera.

What that means for you as a client is that there are a whole world of different photographers to choose from, with different styles and price points! It’s like Goldilocks and the 1,000 Photographers!!!! You as the consumer get to pick the pro with the price point and style that is “just right” for you!

Sadly, what that also means is that if you are not looking for the red flags, you might hire someone who professes to be a professional photographer but really has just taken a few great photos with their borrowed aunt’s camera (that happened to me once, true story!). They might take your money and even take your photos but not deliver the final product you expected.

So how can you, as the client, wade through all the posturing and pretty images to find the photographers who are guaranteed to give you a quality experience and photos you will love? It’s actually more simple than you might think! Keep reading to learn 5 questions you should ask to find out if your heart’s desire is a legit photographer.

  1. Do you require a contract?

I know, filling out contracts and questionnaires are a drag… but they are a really great clue as to the experience level and legitimacy of your photographer’s business. New photographers often have not hashed out the business side of their shop and may not have contracts in place to protect themselves and you as the client (I know- I didn’t have contracts for the first couple years of my business!). If your photographer does not ask you to sign a contract that is a huge red flag and should give you pause, especially since it leaves you hanging out to dry if they take your money and run! Make sure to have a legal contract with your photographer stating important things like image use rights, what is included in the fees you are paying, what your rights are if the photographer does not deliver your images, etc. If your photographer does not require a contract, it might be time to consider other options.

RED FLAG: No contracts

2. What is your image turnaround time?

This, my friends, is a great question to ask any photographer you are considering hiring. It may not seem important beforehand, but it will be really important to you when 13 weeks have gone by and you still have not received your images. Any photographer worth their salt will be able to give you an expected delivery timeline and will be open and upfront with you if they think your photos might be delayed. A professional photographer worth hiring should be able to deliver your photos within 6 weeks of your session and should be closer to under 3 weeks if they are good about planning and spacing their sessions properly, and dependent on the type of session. It is expected that wedding photos will take longer to process than family portraits.

To read more about contracts and what should be included in a photography contract please see this helpful article from Pixpa.

RED FLAG: No specified delivery timeline

3. Do you have a business license?

Again, a great question to ask and I admit freely that I did not have a business license for the first few years I was a photographer. Granted, you do not need a license to operate a small photography business if your annual income is below the required amount set by your city and county. The professionals who have gone to the trouble of securing a business license are more likely to be running a more professional and legitimate business and not scam you. A business license will not guarantee you good images as anyone can secure a license and talent/experience is not a qualifying factor to receive one, but having a business license is a way for you as the client to identify if your photographer takes their profession seriously. If your photographer has a business license and does not perform the services you paid them for, you have the ability to report them and have their business license revoked.

RED FLAG: No business license

4. Can I see an example gallery with one client so I know what I can expect from a session with you?

So you cruise through their images on Instagram or Facebook or their online portfolio and love their style…and then you hire them and the images you receive don’t look anything like the photos they showcased. That can feel like a huge bait and switch! One I have sadly fallen prey to as well. It’s easy for photographers to post only their best work online- that single lucky image from 20 different photo shoots in the last few months. Also, sadly there are instances of photo theft that happen all the time and con artist “fauxtographers” can steal images off the internet and present them as their own. It’s rare but it does happen.

So how can you as the client avoid being blinded by the stellar images they choose to show and see what you can actually expect out of your final image gallery if you hire them? Ask them to see an example gallery that is the same type of session you are hiring them for. This is a very reasonable request and one any legit photographer should be able to provide you with. This should give you a good idea of the variety and types of images you can expect to see in your own gallery with that photographer and if they are consistent in their work. Of course, location and lighting might change the exact images you will receive but the bones of their style and work should still be there to judge.

RED FLAG: Will not show you a full image gallery from one client session

5. Are they prompt and detailed in their correspondence with you?

One of the main pitfalls as a photographer is learning to balance the administrative side of the business with the artistic and client side of the business. Most photographers jump in with a love of creating images and have to take on the administrative parts of running a photography business out of necessity. So while they might be a great photographer, they might overload their plate with sessions and not be great at the other parts like answering emails. This doesn’t inherently mean that they won’t take great photos for you, it just means that it could be a beast trying to get a hold of them for anything- to ask questions, reschedule your shoot, find out when your photos will be ready, editing requests, etc. A photographer that is not prompt and courteous in answering emails or other messages from you might be giving you a warning sign that your experience working with them could be a frustrating one and you might have to chase them down often to get what you paid for.

That being said, don’t expect responses back within the course of one or two business days every time. Photographers can work odd days and hours and you might have caught them in the middle of a shooting marathon or their days off. Be patient but also watch out for weeks between responses or vague responses all the time.

RED FLAG: Frequently unresponsive and/or vague responses to messages

Hopefully by asking these 5 questions you can weed through the oodles of talented photographers out there and pick one that not only will give you images and an experience that you love, but will also help you rest easy knowing you put your money and trust in someone who will take care of you and your memories!

Happy photographer hunting you guys!


I don’t often step in front of the camera. Truth is, I just prefer to be behind it because I love to create the images! I love the look in my client’s eyes when I give them art that showcases THEM in a way they never expected. However, Covid19 left me without models other than my own children for 9 weeks and the itch to create grew strong. I challenged myself to try creating some self-portraits and figured if I was going to go for it, they should be special and unique. Little did I know that I would stumble into something I hadn’t expected….

…and that was SO MANY WOMEN reaching out to me wishing they had photos like this of themselves!

As a photographer we like thinking up all the creative elements that make for a great shot, but even I sometimes want to just be the muse. There are artists that I see creating incredible concepts and imagery and I too feel the pull to just want to be the model in their incredible ideas. I want to show up, and have them use their creativity on me while I sit back and have beautiful images created. When I took these photos I got to be both- the photographer AND the muse, but not everyone gets to wear both hats!

What if you just wanted to be the muse? What if you are not a model or influencer or have really any reason for having photos taken except that you just want to have fantastic interesting images of yourself? What if you are a regular mom/wife/employee/person who just wants to release your inner model for a day?

I have come to realize that in our adult lives there are usually very few options that are available to us if we want beautiful photos taken. If you want photos you usually have the choice of Boudoir Photos, Corporate Headshots, or a brief set of individual photos taken during your family portrait session. Am I right?!

But what if you want to be sexy but not wear lingerie? What if you want to be pampered with professional hair and makeup, but you don’t have any use for overtly sexy images you don’t feel comfortable to displaying on your wall? What if you want interesting images of yourself for no reason at all? What if you long to be an artist’s muse, even just for a few hours and then go back to your normal life?

I can’t tell you how much I love these photos of myself. It feels weird to admit that because I am usually the one encouraging clients to love their photos while I often have a hard time loving myself in photos but these…..I LOVE these pictures. They make me feel powerful and beautiful. I want everyone to feel this way. I want any woman to feel like if they want photos like this they can have them!

This year as soon as I can get back to work in the studio, I will be offering “Muse Sessions”. At first I will be booking upon request but hope to eventually host a date of back-to-back sessions much like my Foxy Lady Sessions. The basic idea is that if you want to be photographed in a fine art conceptual portrait session this is for you! Photos will be mostly beauty shots (head and shoulders). You definitely can have input into what you do and don’t want, but you are also welcome to just show up and let me do the rest! You make enough decisions in your everyday life, this is one experience you can leave to the pros.

I hope that you see this as a happy middle ground between boudoir photos and corporate head-shots. I hope to make space here for each and every woman to give themselves permission to be a model, and permission to have beautiful images taken just because. I promise, you deserve it!

Coming Soon!

She Didn’t Tell Me Her Life Story

Life sometimes tricks you into thinking you are alone in this journey. That your sphere does not affect or impact those around you. It’s a voice in your head that tells you, you are an island. That your pain, your sorrow, your loneliness is your burden to bear alone.

That voice is wrong.

We are not alone.

Our walls are sometimes too high to see those around us, wrapped up as we are in the meaning of our own personal struggles and delights, but every once and awhile someone opens a door between their wall and yours, and invites you in. Through it, you find that your spheres are really not that far apart. In that moment you experience their story, and it becomes a part of yours. You are connected now. Their pain is your pain. Their triumphs, your triumphs.

I have met so many women through my lens who share with me about their lives. They sit in front of my camera and pour out their stories and together we laugh, and cry, and marvel at the things that make us complex and so beautifully human. We forget sometimes that even in the midst of hard things, we are surrounded by those who will lift us up if we just find the will to ask. We forget that even in the hardest times, our life is one that we will want to look back on and remember.

She didn’t give me her life story, she didn’t tell me about the days leading up to the day she found out she had breast cancer, and she didn’t elaborate on all the heart aching details. She reached out to me because she needed a photographer for this moment in her life, to document a time right before a huge life change… and remember what she had before she began her fight. She asked me to help her celebrate her body and thank it for what it had given her; 3 beautiful children, a healthy 40 years on this planet, and more happy days than sad ones. Through photos we closed that chapter together, but made sure she could go reopen it and remember it for as long as she needed to.

She didn’t give me her life story, she didn’t tell me about the days leading up to her divorce, and she didn’t share all the reasons she wanted boudoir photos. She reached out to me because she needed a photographer for this moment in her life, to document a time right after a huge life change… and to see all the amazing things she was capable of now. She asked me to help her celebrate her body and remind her what it felt like to be sexy again. She wanted to push forward into the new feelings of dating and being single again. Through photos we opened that chapter together, and made sure she could start off fresh in this new life she was embarking on.

She didn’t give me her life story, she didn’t tell me about the days leading up to her mother’s decline, and she didn’t share all the reasons she wanted portraits. She reached out to me because she needed a photographer for this moment in her life, to document a time when her family was about to lose their mom. She asked me to help her celebrate this woman who cared for them, and held them, and made them who they are. She wanted to be able to remember her mother’s face long after it was gone. Through photos we tried to make sure her grandchildren and great grandchildren would never forget this incredible matriarch that lived such a big and beautiful life. We closed the biggest chapter together, the one between a mother and her child.

Today is National Women’s Day and The Wild Bloom Studio wants to take this time to recognize these incredible women. For their strength in facing head on the curve ball that life has thrown at them and while the details are up to them whether or not to share, we just want to honor all of you on this day.

Katie S Boudoir-4504-

We want to honor all women. You, who have faced hard things and overcome the elements that threaten to break you. To the women who learn to open doors, rather than building walls. Here’s to you!

Happy Women’s Day!

The Wild Bloom Studio

To those who have been inspired to open their own doors and share their own stories, even if it’s just a little, we would love to hear from you! Feel free to tell us your story (or just a chapter) below in comments, email admin@thewildbloomstudio.com or tag #twbsopendoors on social media.

Short Story Sessions vs Signature Sessions

Summer is in full swing and the long warm evenings and days on the beach seem like they will go on forever. Fall Season seems so very far away but as summer trips end and the scent of new school supplies waft through your home, you will begin to think about your family photos this year and how you want your family documented.

It’s about that time friends!!!

We photographers are like big name stores sometimes, putting out our wares for the season long before the holiday arrives to ensure we have enough product for all our clients. Even though it may seem too early to be thinking about things like what to wear for your session or what location you would like…..fall schedules can fill up quickly! So pull up a beach chair wherever you are reading this from, take a big swig of your fancy umbrella drink, and read up on the the types of family sessions offered in the Fall to get your creative juices flowing and start to awaken from your summer zen. You can call it “research”. 😉

Like many photographers, I offer two types of family photo sessions because I understand that family photos are not a one-size-fits-all situation. Your family is unique and your photos should be too! I like to offer a variety of locations and lengths of sessions to give you the best options to pick from for your family each year.

My Fall Season begins in August and continues until December 1st. This is important because many clients will approach me in November asking to book a family session with their images delivered in time for holiday cards and gifts and this is simply not possible if I schedule anything after December 1st as it will take a minimum of 3 weeks to deliver images after your session.

Now if you are wondering what type of session is best for you please read on! There are pros and cons to both types of sessions and it’s important that you know what you can expect from each before you book!

Short Story Sessions:

short, sweet, easy

Short Story Sessions are my “mini-session” offering. They are hosted on specific dates with 3-5 time slots offered at the best time of day for lighting at that location. Due to the nature of these sessions I try to offer them at locations that have a long length of time with “good light”, easy parking and walking, and some amount of variety within the backgrounds.

What you can expect:

These short sessions are more geared towards nailing that perfect family photo for the year and some additional groupings based on how well the session is going. It’s usual for us to capture at least 2 family poses, and 2-3 additional groupings(kids together, mom with kids, dad with kids, individuals of kids). Due to the fast nature of these sessions it is unlikely that we will have time to capture more “story-telling” images in the course of your session.

Pros: Quick, Easy to book, Less expensive, and you get to pick your favorite 20 retouched high resolution images to keep from the comfort of your own home. You have the choice to upgrade later with the Bloom Upgrade ($150) if you want the entire set of images from your proofing gallery (~50 images). I often have an assistant along on these dates as an extra set of hands to help kids smile and arrange hair and clothing.

Cons: Due to the back-to-back nature of these sessions, if you are running late or your children need more time to “warm up” these sessions do not allow time to run long. These sessions are focused on delivering the perfect family shot for holiday cards and print so that will be our intention, if you prefer more candid/photo journalistic images these sessions do not allow time for those photo-ops to develop. If your child is having an “off” day there is less time to work with them and the tight timing does not allow for us to extend as long as it takes to get the faces “just right”.

Signature Family Sessions:

Relaxed, Custom, Creative

What you can expect:

These longer sessions are all-inclusive and have a lot more opportunity to customize the session to your family. You book the time, the place, and the date and have access to me to consult on the best wardrobe and timing for the location you have selected. These collections include 1-1/2 hours of shooting but can go longer if needed to capture all of your desired images. This session delivers 50 images of your choice and you have the choice to upgrade later with the Bloom Upgrade ($150) if you want the entire set of images from your proofing gallery (~80 images). You will also receive $100 in print products.

Pros: More relaxed shooting experience. More customized session where your desired photos are prioritized. More story-telling and detail images with a variety of smaller groupings and candid moments. Help with wardrobe selection to give you the best possible outfits for the location (outfits make a HUGE difference!). The length of the session makes it much easier to get kids to cooperate because we have longer to “warm up” and get genuine expressions. There is also an overall calmer, more relaxed vibe, as there is not time crunch.

Cons: Longer sessions can be hard for smaller children. Your time is valuable and you may not be interested in spending additional time on photos. This collection is more expensive (but includes more shooting time and editing time). These sessions require a bit more back and forth coordination to nail down a date/time/location with me.

Excited to book? I will be announcing Fall Short Story Sessions soon and my Fall schedule will be open for all bookings. After reading the difference between the two sessions, hopefully you know which session is the right one for you! As always, I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Make sure you are on my mailing list here to get the jump on booking when I announce my Fall dates! They do go quick!

For questions about my pricing, check out my investment page here.

Now go back to your fancy umbrella drink on the beach and soak in that last little bit of summer!

Tuesday Tip: Giving credit where credit is due.

Photo by The Wild Bloom Studio

As a client one of my favorite things to do when I get my finished family photos back from the photographer is to share them with everyone. I love them SO much that I just want to put them everywhere. I start thinking about what images I want to print and where I want to hang them, and of course, I always share some of them on social media. As a photographer, one of the best feelings (this is why we do our job feelings), is when we see people sharing the photos that we took.

Dax K Newborn-0612
photo by The Wild Bloom Studio

I can not even begin to explain as a photographer how awesome it is to see people sharing the images you took and using them as their profile pictures. It’s such a warm feeling to scroll through your feed and see these images you took, remembering the day you took them and the moments spent while you were capturing them. It really is a special feeling. That happiness starts to dissolve when I notice that I wasn’t mentioned anywhere. The biggest compliment you can give a photographer is to share the photos that they took AND to give them credit for the photos. Not to mention, it’s kind of the right thing to do.

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photo by Gary Sexton Photography 2018

When we use a quote by someone else we include who originally said the words, it’s actually illegal not to. It’s also important to give credit to the photographer who took a photo that we’re now sharing. Some photographers may put it in their contract that you can only share their images if they’re watermarked with their logos, some might just ask that you “tag” them or mention their business name when sharing, and some photographers may not ask for you to do anything. Regardless of what was put in the contract, ALWAYS credit your photographer. You can do this by mentioning their business name and/or tagging them and linking directly to their page. Sometimes a photographer will post a sneak peak on their business social media accounts. When this happens it’s best to utilize the “share” button, you then create your own post using the content that links directly back to the photographer’s page.

Natalie W Newborn-0960--2
photo by The Wild Bloom Studio

What about those fun filters that come with social media? Did you know that most photographers spend hours hand editing your images? Photographers are artists and have a signature look. If you take a photo that they’ve edited and apply a filter to it, you’re altering their look. Save those fun filters for the photos you snap with your phone or even photos you took with your own camera. You also want to be cautious about cropping images taken by a photographer. Some photography contracts include that you can not alter or even crop the images in anyway.

MacAskill Family Fall 2017-6053
photo by Meghan Paris Photography 2017

When you share your images and credit your photographer you’re not only doing the right thing, but you’re giving them a huge compliment and they’re most likely over there doing a happy dance on the other end! It’s like a nice big warm hug (and you’re likely to become a favorite client).


What is the 100 Faces Project?

We all need new dreams to chase from time to time. In my world, creating new art and unraveling the mysteries of different types of photography is what helps me continue to push myself creatively and keeps me growing. Being perfect is not a requirement for this business, but being willing to learn should be.

This brings us to one of my 2019 passion projects. If you’ve visited The Wild Bloom Studio on Instagram or Facebook recently you might have noticed an increase in sharing of portrait photography and a lot of talk about this “100 Faces Project”. Here’s some information about this passion project of mine…

The idea originated from my love of old oil paintings. I’ve always loved how certain artists of the past were able to create portraits that seem to capture the subject’s personality and soul in a piece of art. The idea of being able to attempt that same effect with my camera is exciting and inspiring for me.

The goals of this project are:

Develop and Strengthen My Portrait Style
This project will give me more opportunities to develop my portrait style and practice studio lighting on a variety of faces so I can hone my skills. Every face is different and there are so many nuances of how to create interesting and flattering light for everyone. I am excited about creating cutom lighting and portraits for each and every participant.

Promote Diversity
I am hoping to focus on and promote diversity by inviting anyone to join in this project. I firmly believe that everyone deserves to have a portrait like this of themselves at least once in their lifetime.

Share the Impact
At the end of the year I hope to write an article sharing my experiences with this project and it’s impact on my business and my abilities, as well as the impact of experiences shared by my clients who participate. Not only is this project about portraiture, but also about the stories behind the faces and if you participate I hope you would be willing to share some of your stories with me.

Want to be part of the project?

In order to participate you are required to sign a model release allowing me to utilize the photos taken. I invite people of all gender, ethnicity, and ages over the age of 16 to participate. I especially would love to photograph those people who have never had a portrait taken.

The sitting is completely free and you are in no way obligated to purchase any photos. After your session I will send you proofs of the best images from your session, you will be welcome to purchase prints a la carte or the high resolution digital images for a fee.

If you are interested in signing up for a spot please grab a time that works for you on the schedule here: https://calendly.com/wildbloomstudio/30min

Thanks again for your interest and I hope you will join me!

***Please note that when I have reached the 100 mark I will still continue to offer these types of sessions in the future. Ask me for pricing!

Tuesday Tip: Candid Posing

Today we bring you a tip that is for both photographers, and everyone who finds themselves in front of a camera for family photos every year (which should be everyone, clearly!). Two words: candid posing. What? That sounds sort of like an oxymoron?
J Tucker Family Fall Mini 2017-2733

Raise your hand if you dream of those pretty photos of your family, laughing together, hugging, and playing in the sunshine. That is what I want my family photos to look like FOR SURE. I want that one perfect “smiling at the camera” shot (or what we like to call it at The Wild Bloom Studio, “The Money Shot”). The rest of the photos I want to showcase our dynamic, our real smiles, and our fun and playful relationships with our kids. I want the movement that turns a collection of photos into a story. These photos bring a gallery wall or an album to life. They take the soul back to what it actually felt like to be there in that moment.Yanez Family Fall Minis 2017-7951

So this is probably why so many people love the candid shots and why so many clients ask specifically for candid only shots. Problem with candid shots? You don’t always get everyone in the frame, and you’ll most likely see less of someone’s face than you’d think. This is where candid posing comes in.

W Chien family-5000

Photographers – pose the family, “stand here, and here, put your arm here, tuck in your hand here, lean in, etc” and then you say GO! You let the family fall into their space, into who they are. This may require some prompting still, “go in for the tickle”, and other various activities to get the family comfortable and moving.

J Smith Famiy 2018-1769

Everyone in front of the camera – make sure you GO! This is the time to let go of your camera-ready smiles and perfect posture and relax into the silliness and candor of your family dynamic. Only YOU know that your child loves when you blow raspberries on their cheeks. Only YOU know that at home you like to sing and dance to that certain song your daughter loves. Only YOU know that your husband and boys wrestle like they are in the WWE octagon. Sometimes, you might try one of your tricks and it isn’t working. That’s ok! Keep your smile and try the next trick in the bag. And just know that if your photographer hasn’t told you to do anything different, keep rolling with it!

Bernardo Family Fall Minis 2017-2021

Once you’ve finished nailing “The Money Shot”….let loose and be crazy and tickle your kids, or lean into your spouse and pretend like it’s your first kiss all over again, or grab that little one and play the drums on their belly. The magic happens when you are in the right place at the right time and you unleash your real feelings AND your photographer is all set up to capture it. Any photographer worth their salt will never be mad at you for bringing your own special family spice to the shot. Photographers, remember that some families may need the encouragement to do this.

Shah Family Fall Minis 2017-9753

The pose is just the starting point, to everything that can happen there after.


Introducing: Tuesday Tips and Tricks


Hey all you photographers and photo lovers!

Since I have spent the better part of my adult life trying to unravel the secrets of this little black box in my hands and the magic it can produce when used correctly I thought it might be time to share some of these secrets with all of you!!!! Nothing is too complicated here, I plan on sharing basic tips and tricks that can be applied if you are a photographer or just a person wanting to create better photos. Let’s be honest, we all want to know how to make better pictures- no matter which side of the camera we are on!

So tune in every Tuesday for a little chat about everything from tricks for getting kids to smile their real smiles for photos to how to dress your family for pictures. Post a comment if there is a particular tip you would like me to share and I promise to try and fit it in in the coming weeks.

Until next time…happy clicking you guys!



5 Tips For Making Your Family Photos a Piece of Cake This Fall!

Cung Family Fall Minis 2017-2528

We all know what happens…

Every Fall it sneaks up on you and before you know the time is here and you have not gotten all of your family photo ducks in a row. You want the gorgeous updated family photos each year to hang on your walls and adorn your holiday cards… but what you have to go through to get those family photos seems like an impossible chore.

Here are a few tips for making the experience a whole lot easier and more enjoyable this year!

Tip #1- Start the process early!


It can take some time to shop around and find the perfect photographer. Start looking for someone that fits the style you are looking for and who makes family photography that excites and inspires you, and embodies the feel of your family. For most family photographers, Fall is our busy season and we book out weeks or even months in advance. By finding your ideal photographer and contacting them in the summer, chances are good that they will still have plenty of dates for you to choose from and you can secure a coveted spot on their calendar before the rush.

Booking a date earlier in the fall season also gives you a few advantages. The weather is often unpredictable later in the fall season with cold mornings and chilly evenings. California Septembers still have plenty of warm days. You also get the opportunity to get your family photos done before the busy holiday season when parties and events can make scheduling family photos a challenge and you are worn out. Additionally- you will get a photographer who is still fresh and full of creativity at the beginning of their busy season rather than at the end when they are worn out from 3 months of back to back shoots. You’ll have plenty of time to get holiday cards ordered and take advantage of sales that card companies often offer as incentive to get your cards ordered early.

Tip #2- Make a day of it.

Inman Family Fall Minis 2017-7743

When booking a date for your session, block out plenty of time before the session so you don’t schedule anything beforehand that will make getting ready stressful. Try to set aside the whole day if you can so that the day’s atmosphere is easy and calm and you enjoy the experience with your family. Take a nap! Eat a delicious lunch! Go out for ice cream afterwards! All of these elements will help you to make family photos a fun outing instead of a hated task.

When choosing a time for your shoot, keep in mind times of the day that your children are at their best. Don’t book a time that conflicts with nap times or meal times. Set the stage for success by coordinating all the elements that will make your children as happy and comfortable as possible so that you as the parent are relaxed as well.

***For best photos try to book the times closest to sunrise or sunset. If your children do better in the morning try to schedule closer to sunrise. If your children function better after a nap think about doing a session closer to sunset. These conditions will give you the most amazing lighting for your outdoor session.

(Below: An example of beautiful morning light which tends to be more soft and cool in color)

Yin Family Fall Minis 2017-9418

(Below: An example of gorgeous evening light which tends to be more dramatic and warm in color)

Kent Family Fall Minis 2017-0192

(Finally- mid-day lighting can work great if you have a location that is covered but still naturally lit like in the photo below.)



Tip #3- Wardrobe plan as soon as you have a date booked.

BennettFamily2015-9220Plan your outfits early and start shopping when it’s fresh on your mind while you are booking your date with the photographer. That perfect dress you found online might take weeks to arrive and this will give you plenty of time to get everything you need without the mad last-minute dash to the mall or having to settle for something that is Amazon Prime.

My “secret sauce” for the perfect family photo outfits for my family is to pick one dynamic piece that I love for one person in the family and the coordinate everyone else’s outfits around that one piece. Pull colors or tones or overall style from that piece and use it as a connective thread in your choices with other outfits. Layer in a variety of textures and fabrics and patterns to give a sense of coordination without being too matchy-matchy. Throw out all the things your mama taught you about what to wear for family photos. Layers are good! Patterns are good! More than one color can be good! If you need feedback on your outfit choices it never hurts to touch base with your photographer. They usually have a lot of insight into what works and what doesn’t and they can give you the added feedback about whether your choices will work well for the location you will be photographed in. Coordinating and taking advice from your photographer can elevate your family photos from a simple family photo to art.

Pick clothing that fits your color or style theme BUT keep in mind your children’s personalities and what they like to wear. You may find a gorgeous tulle dress that you are dying to put your tomboy daughter in, but at the end of the day the fight to get her to wear it is not worth it. You will love the photos so much more if you allow your children to wear clothes that fit their style but that you choose to coordinate with your family photo vision. Children are likely to be more excited about photos if they feel they were involved and have a say in the process. (Same thing goes for the dads, mamas!)

Tip #4- Talk it up!

In the weeks leading up to your session talk to your kids about what will happen in a positive excited way. If you set a tone for family photos being “so much fun” and how excited you are, they will get into the spirit, too. Depending on their age you can promise rewards or incentives to prepare them for doing their best, but I always prefer to just make the experience of hanging out at the park while a photographer plays with us and takes our photos the incentive. My kids and I talk about secret funny inside jokes we can call upon during the shoot to elicit laughs. We talk about what they do want (hugs and tickles) and don’t want (kisses and having to smile for a long time) to happen.

If your kids need an activity in order to cooperate for photos- discuss options with your photographer. Children are not always born models and some march to the beat of their own drum. If that sounds like your child- think about what they enjoy and how you can incorporate that into your shoot. Maybe they love to chase bubbles, or ride their bike, or fly kites? Maybe your session needs to be somewhere they can play tag, or jump in the water, or play with legos. Your family is unique and your photos should represent who you are and who your kids are. That is what makes your family photos authentic to your family.

5. Leave it to the pros.


After all the preparation and scheduling and worry about if your children will behave…. after doing the best you can to prepare…. the moment you arrive at your session leave those thoughts and feelings behind. If your kids are misbehaving, let your photographer worry about reeling them in (within reason), try to have a light-hearted attitude, and enjoy the time with your kids. Your kids will take cues from your demeanor and will often behave accordingly. If you have selected a good photographer who knows how to work with kids- they will have a bag of tricks to get your kids to do what they need for great photos and that allows you to focus on yourself and making sure you have great expressions and body language. (Remember to keep smiling mom and dad – take a deep breath, no need to feel embarrassed, we’ve all been there). How many times have you gotten your family photos back and not loved how strained your smile looks? Focus on looking your best and let your photographer worry about bringing out the best in your kids.

No matter how busy you are, your family photos are always worth making room in your schedule for. So start searching for the right pro, grab your calendar, and get ready to make some epic memories!!!!

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