Top 10 things to do before any portrait session with families and pets.
1. Come prepared:
For children, bring snacks and drinks, extra clothing, favorite toy and blanket. For older kids, just bring Starbucks, ha,ha...
For pets, be sure to have a leash, bring your own treats, any ties or bows you may want to use, take them for pee break and bring water for any outdoor sessions. Bring any props you want to include in your session and that would help tell your story. Bring items that have some significant meaning to you such as any jewelry (i.e. Dad`s watch that was passed down to you, Grandmother`s necklace given as a gift, or something from your daughter she gave you for Christmas). These are called emotional symbols.
2. Be patient:
For family members that may not want to cooperate (children and adults- yes, even some adults may not want to be in a portrait), be patient and they will come around. Your photographer should know how to make people smile and laugh. Getting upset only makes things worse so take your time. For pets that have an accident just laugh it off, clean it up and carry on. They may not cooperate just like humans, but be patient and keep trying in a gentle manner.
It is important to discuss this with your photographer during your consultation to determine what location will best portray your pets and families story. Telling your story with your images brings more value and importance to you. Your story maybe your dog`s favorite place to walk, a field with bales to remind you of the family farm, a walking path where you first met, or your favorite place to go with your children. Be sure to tell your story in your portrait session.
This is vitally important as how you dress could make or break a portrait. As a member of the Professional of Photographers of Canada and having images critiqued a clothing consultation is one area of scrutiny that determines if an image is above standard. Dressing in multiple colored clothing does not look pleasing and detracts from the image. You don't need to completely match, but these are things you should pay attention to:
*Keep clothing within the same color tone- dark clothing with dark clothing. If everyone is wearing dark blue jeans and one person is not, it will stand out.
*Long sleeves versus short sleeves. Keep it consistent; pick one and go with it for everyone in the portrait.
*Recommended that everyone wear black socks and match the shoes with socks. White socks will stand out more in the portrait and you don't want the socks to be brighter than your subject`s faces.
*Plain colors are best. No logos, stripes, or patterns as these are all distracting to the face. Keep clothing simple and form fitting if possible. Dark colors like black, navy, charcoal and burgundy are more slimming and flattering than lighter colors, because they absorb light rather than reflect it onto your flaws. Our eyes perceive dark colors as receding and light colors as advancing or appear larger.
*If you have a choice of glasses please bring non-transition lenses.
*Flash photography does cause shine on your face if you are wearing foundation. Try using a powder over top your foundation to help with the shine of the make-up. Try wearing heavier make-up for photography so you can see the results.
6. Things to pack:
Water, pet dish, snacks, wipes for pets and people, extra sweater, make-up for touch up, hair ties, pet brush, pet treats, towel to wipe up on a hot day, bug spray for the summer months, lint brush for dog fur, a dog collar to match your dogs fur. Your photographer should come prepared as well, but it is better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
Avoid saying, "Cheese" or "Smile". Saying "Hi" is something that I learned studying under a professional in Vancouver. It gives you a more natural smile and still keeps your eyes open. If you don`t believe it, try it in the mirror.
8. Eat before the session:
There is nothing worse than focusing on how hungry you are than paying attention to what the photographer is trying to get you or your pet to do and wanting to rush through the session so you can go eat. Have everyone fed and watered and gone to the bathroom before the session. This will avoid any delays or having to listen to stomach growling. If you can't eat before the session, bring snacks and also check you teeth after eating. Prepare the day before with a your bag packed ready to go in case you are running late the day of your session.
9. Pet behavior:
It`s best not to rush through the session. Your pet needs to get familiar with the surroundings before taking any photos or they won`t settle down. Sometimes pets are scared of the flash or the camera so will need to take the time to settle them down and get comfortable. Help keep your pet from the anxiety of a session by not working them up before the session. Do they travel well? Do they like new unfamiliar places? Do they like meeting new people? These are all things that can contribute to the anxiety of your pet. Suggestions may be to ask the photographer if you can come earlier to relax your pet or do a trial travel run ahead of the session to get used to the trip. Essential oils can sometimes be used to settle and relax your pet. Taking them to the park ahead of the session may over stimulate them so you may want to just have a short walk so they can do their business and get there early to get them familiar with their surroundings. You also don`t want them too hot or tired, because that will make the very uncomfortable when you nee them to cooperate.
10. History in the making:
Is this just another portrait session with yet another photographer you found on Kijji because they were cheap? If you have taken the time to invest in clothing, a great location, and your valuable time, then find a photographer that is going to invest their time and effort in you and your family to give you portraits that you will treasure forever. Now is the time to make history. How many people print their portraits large enough to enjoy them or are they stored away on a computer out of sight? We are the most photographed society and yet we print the least. Having your portrait taken is a big deal. You are capturing a time in your life you will never get back to. The age of your children and pets, celebrating the family pet before you say goodbye, a parent`s milestone birthday or anniversary. What is left of you or your pet when you pass? What legacy do you want to leave behind? What stories to you want your children to remember? This is a big deal, and is history in the making!!