Family Prep Guide

Now, lets get into the details.


I am so excited to be working with you!! Thank you for choosing me to capture these memories for you. I am honored to be your choice. It is my job to make the session fun and having fun comes when all the little details are already handled. This guide will walk you through the process so you feel confident when it is time for us to take that first picture.

The tips below will allow you to have the best possible session. Remember, no single session is perfect, and it doesn't have to be! As long as you're having fun, that's all that matters. ​My sessions consist of mainly candid moments and interacting. I  like to shoot a number of different things, like mom and dad together, kids together, parents with each kid​​​. You'll of course get those shots with everyone looking but I'm really looking for connections with family members. I'll go over everything from wardrobe to how to get the kids (and dad) ready. I'm so excited to work with you and your family!

This guide will help you prepare and then I will take care of the rest. I am also always here for you to contact with any questions. If after reading this guide you still have a question please feel free to email, text or call me. Your only job the day of is to be yourself, laugh a lot and let me create beautiful photos you will love forever.

Wardrobe: "What to wear?"

The first and hardest question....

The hardest question everyone asks themselves after booking a photo session is: "What will we wear?". I totally understand! And I'm here to help! 

When you start styling your session, I suggest starting with Mom and then working out from there. Whether you want to purchase all new clothes, or you want to use that dress you love, it's a great place to start. You don't have to start with mom's outfit though. Just pick one item first. Then you can pull your colors and textures and build up from that starter piece. Another good starting point is to think of the colors in your home (these images will be on your walls after all) or maybe your favorite color, then go from there.


Things to keep in mind:

  • Comfort: you want everyone to be comfy at your session. We'll be moving around on our adventure, so make sure you put yourself and the kids in something that moves with you and isn't itchy or too tight. You'll be hearing about it all session, trust me.
  • Accessorize it: hats, scarves, jewelry, blankets, headbands, suspenders, etc. All these things, in moderation, are a great way to add another layer of your style into your session.
  • Patterns: Mixing patterns is a great way to add interest to your photos, but too much can become distracting so pick one or two items and have the rest of the family in solids.
  • Textures & layers: Layers add texture and textures add interest. Denim, chunky knits, lace, cords, etc. I love the way a chunky cardigan looks. Or a denim shirt tied at the waist. These are all great ways to incorporate your style.
  • Color: make sure the colors you choose compliment each other. Colors that will stand out best are muted, earthy tones. Some examples are: cream, blush, grey, whites or khaki. A little pop of color can be fun. Some examples are: mustard yellow, mauve pink, dark blue, hunter green, dark reds/oranges. Then there is always the dramatic black dress and suite for something more fancy or editorial.
  • Editorial look: Bring a little extra something with you! Fresh flowers bring an extra "wow" factor to just about any shoot. Other fun and over the top items might be: balloons, bicycle basket, tree swing, tent, picnic blanket, champagne, wagons or sand toys. Whether you want to incorporate larger items like classic cars or bikes, or smaller ones like blankets or hats, even planning for just one extra styled item could be a fun way to make your session more unique.
  • MAKE IT YOUR OWN: this session is about you! And it's so important to make sure that your family's personality shines through in every aspect. 


Things to avoid:

  • Giant logos: shirts that have giant logos on them can distract from your beautiful faces. Just say no.
  • neon colors: just say no to hot pink and lime green... on that note the whole family in red can cast red hues to your skin.
  • Matchy-matchy: matching outfits are super cute, I know, but they can also seem very redundant and dare I say boring. Having different colors, patterns, textures, etc is super important to create interest and diversity in your family's images.
  • No self tanners!!! I know ladies you look so good with your skin tan, I too enjoy a good tan, but placed next to your family members, with their normal skin tones.... you will standout for reasons you will not like. To hit this home I will go ahead and share my own personal story... I am olive skin but my babies have all been little whities.... I looked forward to baby photos with my first girl (and last baby) for the entire 9 months she was in my belly.... I wanted to do all the things to look my best, so yes, I tanned.... we looked like Pocahontas and Snow White.... if Snow White had blond hair hahaha. So don't say I didn't warn you and stay away from changing your skin color until after the pictures.


Places to shop:

  • Old Navy, Gap, TJ Maxx, Forever 21, Macy's, Target, Zulily, Nordstrom, Charolette Russe, Buckle, American Eagle, JCrew, Gymboree, MiniBoden, Dollcake, My Little Jules, Janie & Jack, Next Direct



Location

CHOOSE A LOCATION WITH LOTS OF ROOM TO ROAM

Kids love to run around, and happy kids make for better photos. Don’t choose a place where the kids aren’t allowed to run on the grass, touch things or have a lot of rules to follow. Let the kids explore a little bit, find places that they enjoy and keep their interest, and take advantage of these moments. Choosing a spacious location also helps to keep random people from getting in your photos because you can move to the less crowded spots.


CHOOSE A LOCATION that best represents your family

The possibilities are endless and honestly. Brainstorm locations that mean something to you as a family. Places that excite you or take your breath away are a good place to start. This is a good chance to think outside the box. Do you know anyone or have access to any places others might not? For example, maybe you, or someone in your personal or professional network, can secure permission to a location that would other wise be off limits, like a beautiful private estate, country club or resort. Maybe it's a family ranch, upscale hotel or even a boat, airplane hanger or a rooftop view. The sky is literally the limit. Spend a few minutes thinking about it and checking around. You'll be surprised with what you might come up with. Plus, if something seems out of reach, just remember: you never know until you ask! Have fun with it. I have some great go-to locations around town that we can always hit, too. Just let me know which type of session you would love and we will go from there!



For Her

Don't be afraid to fancy it up!

Have you thought about rocking a romantic gown, tulle skirt or flower crown but just never had an occasion for it? Remember: there is no such thing as "too dressed up" when it comes to your portrait session, so don't be afraid to have fun (are you seeing a theme yet)! If you don't want to add a permanent piece to your collection, a lot of clients love Rent the Runway for their session because its such an affordable way to feel like a million bucks. Other clients love having a great excuse to bring a new permanent piece (or two!) into their closet!


Say yes to the dress

Dresses and skirts look the most stunning because they really flatter every female body. I recommend avoiding pants and shorts for your session and saying yes to the dress or two instead. Long, full-length, flowy dresses and skirts look amazing on camera because they bring extra movement to the photos. Especially when juxtaposed with nature, like the dessert, forest, plains or beach. Consider soft fabrics like chiffon or tulle which allow for beautiful movement in the images.

  • Length: When considering the length of your dresses or skirts, it's also a good idea to factor in whether or not there will be little ones in your photos. If you have smaller children, I will likely have you sitting or crouching on the ground to interact up-close with them. Shorter dresses photograph beautifully , but if you have little ones in your photos, a floor-length dress or skirt, even pants, will make moving around with your kids much easier, and look perfect on camera, too.
  • Expecting Mothers: If you are expecting, I always recommend floor-length gowns or maxi dresses. The dresses create the best silhouettes to flatter your figure and really highlight your bump. A lot of expecting mothers love to incorporate flower crowns or headpieces as well.
  • Color: When choosing color for your outfits, I recommend selecting softer, lighter tones and more muted shades. By avoiding ultra bright, bold colors, it will help bring all the attention to your faces and let the eye focus on how you feel about each other. The camera loves soft pastel colors mixed with light neutrals like heather gray, creams, browns and whites. That softer color palette fits beautifully into almost all natural outdoor environments.
  • Flattering Features: Every woman, regardless of her shape, has an area of her body that she's self-conscious about, so recognizing what area that is in advance is key. Three-quarter length sleeves create an awesome slimming effect on the arms. You could also bring a cute jacket or cardigan. Skinny straps or strapless dresses have the opposite effect on arms on camera, so I recommend avoiding those whenever possible if your goal is to have slimmer-looking arms. Heels elongate women's legs making them look fabulous. Closed-toes heels in particular look great on camera because they carry out the line of your leg all the way down to your toe. If you are planning on wearing a peep-toe shoe I recommend planning a pedicure before your session so you don't regret letting your feet show. For the session it is good to bring a pair of easy-to-kick-off flats to wear when moving from place to place in between photos. Your feet will thank you later! These little tricks make all the difference.
  • Hair & Makeup: Professional hair and makeup is on the top of most clients checklists because it looks great on camera and removes the stress of getting ready on your own. This is the time to treat yourself! whether its lash extensions or a blow out, professional hair and make up will give you a boost of confidence in front of the camera, and it always photographs like a dream. If you are working with a makeup artist have them apply your makeup in natural light, if possible, so it looks fresh and not too heavy. Plus, thats the type of light we'll be shooting in, so it will give you the best expectation of how it will translate on camera.
  • REMEMBER: No spray tans! I recommend that you do not get a spray tan before your session, even if it is a few days prior, it tends to photograph orange even when it is applied subtly and by a professional. Your actual skin tone will photograph the most beautifully and naturally.

For Him

they look good dressed up too!

Long, fitted pants and closed-toed shoes are the most sophisticated and masculine looks for men. They draw attention away from his legs and feet and place it where you want it: on his handsome face. Fitted dress pants or fitted colored pants work best on camera. Solid shades of gray or navy are a strong compliment to most woman's outfits, whereas pinstripes or plaid patterns tend to distract the eye. I also recommend staying away from graphics and logos.

  • Mix it up: Feel free to mix a suit coat, blazer or sport coat with a different pant color. It adds some extra visual interest, and breaks up the color tones. This is a fresh take on a timeless classic!
  • Layer it: Layers on a man look great on camera., so even when it's hot outside, trust me when I say that it's worth an hour or two of discomfort for photos that will last you both a lifetime. It brings extra dimension and visual interest to your photos. Blazers, vests and coats can up the level of any look. Don't be afraid to get a little creative with layers!
  • Details: Brown leather dress shoes compliment almost every look. Whether he is wearing a full suit or a blazer or colored pants. Ties, bowties, pocket square, colored socks, belts, tie clips, suspenders, vests and watches are sharp complements to any outfit for men and boys alike.
  • Get him excited: Let him know why this is important to you. Show him my work and let him know how much you look forward to working with me. Trust me, once he knows how important it is to you, he'll light up the camera for you.

Coordinating the Crew

Break it up!

As you're coordinating your outfit with your family, keep in mind that your outfits will look the most cohesive on camera when the color palette and wardrobe pieces coordinate, but don't actually "match". In fact, I recommend that you avoid thinking about "matching", and instead think about what "fits" together. This will create more visual interest, and allow each personality to shine through.


The goal for coordinating a family is to visually break up the colors and shades so that you're not all wearing the same color on top and bottom. The more we can mix that up, the better. I encourage you to think about planning each outfit with "dominant colors" and "accent colors" in mind. A dominant color is the color that you see the most in an outfit, while the accent has a smaller piece of visual real estate. When you are planning each family members outfit, if you can aim for each person to have a different dominate color, and then tie in and vary accent colors, it's going to look great all together.


For example, if you are wearing a blush dress, soft blue earrings and nude heels (blush being the dominant color), then he could wear a navy coat with a white button-down and gray pants, paired with brown leather shoes and maybe even a blush pocket square (making navy his dominant color). Your daughter could wear a soft blue top with a white tulle skirt (making soft blue her dominant color) while your son wears light beige pants with navy suspenders and a white button-down (making white his dominant color). Now each person has their own dominant color while still incorporating a few touches of the others that will pul all the looks together. This will break up the color visually and highlight each personality. Most of the time, moms choose their dress first, and then build the rest of the families outfits based on that.


If you have multiple children, don't feel like you need to put them all in the same outfit (unless that is your family statement). For example, one of your daughters could wear a dress and flats, while the other wears a skirt and boots. One of your sons could wear a bowtie, while the other pone wears suspenders. Mixing up the wardrobe pieces will bring a great visual interest to the photos.


Remember, I recommend selecting those softer, lighter tones and avoiding those ultra-bright, bold colors. The camera loves shades of soft pink and muted blues, mixed with light neutrals like heather gray, cream, leather brown and white. Feel free to vary the shades of the colors, too. The softer color palette fits beautifully into a neutral environment, and can easily be paired in so many different ways.





Prepping Your Littles

Feed them

Littles get hangry just like grown-ups. Pack a bag of snacks, water and maybe a treat to bribe them with (make sure this isn't something that will melt or transfer onto their outfits). Food can be a great motivator. A lot of families discuss and pick something fun in advance as a treat for after the session if they are good listeners, like an ice cream cone, for example.


toys

Stuffed animals, funny nose makers or any object that might help us get their attention when it's time to look at the camera can be great.


Prep them

  • Make sure they get enough sleep the night and even the previous three nights before the session.
  • Make sure their bellies are full before the session starts. If the child is just needing a full meal, snacks will only go so far.
  • Practice taking their pictures at home, practicing their best smiles. If your kids are older, explain to them what the session means to you so that they can be on their best behavior. That being said, don't be worried about how they will behave or be embarrassed if things don't go as planned during the session. We will embrace these moments together and help turn them into fun memories. The most important job everyone will have is to simply be yourselves and have a great time.


*We will get a few shots of everyone smiling and looking at the camera but my favorite moments are not the perfectly posed shots, they are the in-between moments I capture. If one of your littles starts running away from the group giggling, scoop them up and smother them in tickles and kisses. If they are shy or upset, hold them close to you and tell them how wonderful you think they are, while tucking their hair behind their ear or caressing their cheek. If you as the parent keep smiling and having a good time, I will be able to capture sweet moments the whole way through. Sometimes imperfect situations can lead to the perfect photo. And trust me, I know that some of your favorite photos will be the intimate, or silly moments that we didn't plan on!

One Final Note


I know that all of this is a lot to think about. I created this guide to help make your family session experience something you'll look back fondly on for years and years to come. At the end of the day, though, the location you choose and the outfits you select won't matter nearly as much as the memories you make together. Your future memories are the most important thing to me, and I want your session to be a time for you to just be yourselves and enjoy it!

Be together. Smile through everything. Laugh a lot. And I'll take care of the rest.

Family Session Check List


  • Set a date, time and location with Nikki
  • Review guide for styling tips
  • Schedule hair & makeup, mani/pedi appointments if desired (I do have a hair stylist and makeup artist if you want someone to come to your home)
  • Choose your outfits
  • Pack a bag with:
  • Flats or flip flops for walking between photo spots, if you are wearing heels
  • Second outfits, if you are doing two
  • water bottle, for warmer weather
  • touch-up makeup
  • Coat or cover up, for colder sessions
  • snacks for little ones
  • if you have a toddler or younger, small eye catching toys (or lollipops) to hold their attention