Guest Post By Emeka Ikechi, Director, Vanity Studios

We all love to have special family photos. Pictures of the children as they grow up, family groups and photos of important occasions. To create images that you will treasure it is nice to have a professional family photo shoot.  This is a treat for everyone involved and also a considerable investment so you’ll want to make sure you get the best images you can from the experience.  Let me share some tips on how to get the best photographs from a family photo shoot.

Decide what you want to achieve from your family photo shoot

For your family photo shoot, think about how you want your pictures to look when you have them on display. Are you planning to give photos to the grandparents for Christmas? Do you want a formal shot or one where you and the kids are all having a good time together? Or you may want a really great picture of yourself looking your absolute best or even something a little risqué to share with your partner.

What we don’t recommend is practising! The point of going to a professional studio is that they have the experience to help you get the look you want, and if you are too stiff with a practised pose, you are unlikely to get the best from the process.

fun family photo shoot
Credit: Vanity Studios

Take a selection of outfits

Now you have in mind the kind of shots you want, pick a selection of clothes to help you achieve that look. We recommend bringing several changes of clothes and ones you can mix and match to create different looks. Four “looks” is a good number to work towards. 

If you are having a family shot or, perhaps, mother and daughter, co-ordinate to make sure your outfits work together. I don’t mean you all wear the same things – unless you really want to. And avoid wearing the same colours. But if you are planning a dressy shot, make sure you all have smart clothes and similarly-styled dresses. You don’t want to have the whole family formal, apart from the one person who only brought a t-shirt and tatty shorts! 

On a very practical level, with headshots particularly, try not to wear anything too similar to your skin tone, as you are in danger of blending into your outfit and, conversely, don’t wear anything too patterned as it’s distracting.

Remember to take some accessories to complement your outfits.  Big earrings, statement hats, outrageous retro trainers…you may not use them all, but it is good to have the option.

Hair and makeup

Next, what should you do about hair and makeup? Firstly, check with the studio whether or not hair and makeup is part of the package. I would highly recommend choosing a studio that includes this, but many family and corporate photographers don’t so make sure you check. And if they don’t include hair and makeup, ask them for guidance on how you should prepare before you arrive.

If you come to a studio where these are part of the package, we advise arriving with clean hair with no styling products and no makeup. That way, the stylists can start with a blank canvas and create the look you want. 

We suggest at least having some powder applied because of the lighting and to mask blemishes for men. Some men will want more than others, but it is completely optional, and the makeup artists will work with you to ensure you get the look you really want.

What if you wear glasses?

These are far less of an issue, than people tend to assume, so if you are a wearer of glasses, do bring them along. Glare is seldom an issue – remember, these are professional photographers who know how to get the angle and lighting right.

For some people, glasses are very much part of their identity and others may need them but prefer how they look without, so it’s very much a personal choice. What we tend to do is take poses both with and without glasses. When the shoot is over, you can choose which pictures you prefer.

props for a family photo shoot

Props can make a great addition to the picture

Props work really well on a family photo shoot, particularly if you share a common interest such as a sport or other hobby.

In fact, with smaller children, props are a really great idea. It’s always good to bring things they can play with, and if they have a particular favourite toy, you won’t regret having them included in shots as a reminder of just how much they loved that toy. Likewise, if they have a particular personality trait that can be highlighted with a prop, it is a lovely thing to have for posterity. If your toddler is cake-obsessed, a delicious-looking cupcake could be fun (if not too messy) or if your older child would happily spend their entire life on the X Box or PlayStation, perhaps bring a controller along.

Selecting your images

The photographer will take a lot – and I mean a lot – of pictures. So, there will be an enormous number of images to choose from at the end of the shoot. Generally, studios will have a “viewer”,; someone specifically assigned to go through the shots with you and help you choose the right ones. Remember what you wanted in the first place, and be sure you have those shots ordered – you must leave with what you wanted in the first place. You may also find there are other shots that you really love, and these are a real bonus from your experience.

Have fun throughout the process

Your family photo shoot should be fun! We have many clients who are very nervous when they arrive, and often they hate having their photo taken. They may be the parent who is always behind the camera and never in front of it! The preconception is that you will feel awkward and that it’s a bit scary, but if you choose the right studio, it will be far from that.

For example, we offer Prosecco on arrival, and the whole process is very comfortable. Good studios will have great makeup artists and hairstylists so you can relax while they get to work. The photographers are highly experienced and give a lot of direction; they will advise you on where to stand, how to sit, which angle to put your head at, where to look, etc. There’s lots of chat and direction, and we find that even those who are not used to taking instruction enjoy being guided by the professionals.

By picking a good studio, with a team you trust, for your special family photo shoot, you will undoubtedly have a lot of fun.  And, you’ll have images that you and others will enjoy and treasure.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: – Emeka Ikechi is Director of Vanity Studios, a contemporary studio for photoshoots in the centre of Shoreditch in London. Since 2009 Vanity Studios has been providing clients with high-quality professional photos and an excellent photoshoot experience. The team of photographers and make-up artists ensure each client receives bespoke photography that meets their requirements. 

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