As you know, Mitchell Photography operates by appointment only. However, we are in studio today working on techie stuff and are available for pop ins! If you’ve got images to pick up, an item to re-order, or just wanted to pop in and say hello, we’ll be in studio until 7 p.m. this evening, and by appointment on Friday.
1. Consider your background first.
Your background should be the inspiration for your wardrobe color choices. If you’re not in a situation to pre-select a background but a background is selected for you, see if you can get a sneak peek for preparation purposes. On dark backgrounds, wear brighter clothing. On light backgrounds, wear dark clothing. Avoid black clothing with black backgrounds, and avoid white clothing (even accents) on white backgrounds. Keep in mind that contrast is key for visually appealing images.
2. What to Wear
• Colors: Not every member in the family needs to be dressed in exactly the same outfit. Although Polo or tee shirts with jeans or khakis are popular and safe go-to outfits for families for their simplicity and neutral tones, it is okay to mix it up a bit. Perhaps everyone is in shades of blue, but different styles of shirts. Perhaps everyone is in Polo shirts, but they’re all different colors.
• Patterns, Prints, and Logos: Although colors can be of wide variety, it is important NOT to wear patterns. Patterns can clash with the background as well as with patterns of other members of the family, and can be distracting from the subjects of the image. Words on clothing are also advised against, and logos are often “wished” out of pictures when they become distractions.
• Sleeves: Tank tops, sleeveless dresses, and spaghetti straps rarely appear flattering in pictures. Ladies generally are most figure-flattered by three-quarter to full-length sleeves – or with some type of shawl or wrap to accessorize wardrobes with less arm or shoulder coverage.
• Fit: Make sure everyone can bend, stretch, kneel, and squat comfortably because you never know what spontaneous poses may be included in your session. Sleeveless tube dresses are never a good idea for portraits.
• Top to Bottom: Even if your portrait is only going to be a head and shoulder image, the way you feel will translate fully into your picture. You’ll feel more complete, confidant, and more prepared if you’re fully dressed for your session. Yes, shoes matter! Remember your jewelry, and don’t be afraid to accessorize!
3. Plan three days ahead
Set reminders for yourself to get things in order three days prior to your family’s portrait session.
• Make sure everyone’s outfits are clean, wrinkle-free, and ready to wear on picture-day, and make sure every person knows which shoes to wear and where those shoes are.
• Remind everyone that picture day is coming so they know when they need to be prepared.
• Now is the best time for hair cuts if anyone needs them.
4. Talk with your family about what you expect from your portrait experience.
Set rules, guidelines, boundaries, penalties, and rewards for independent and group behavior. Families are diverse and while getting everyone dressed and there on time may turn out to be the easy part, all it takes is one strong-willed four-year-old determined not to participate, or one irritated teen-ager refusing to smile to ruin your entire portrait experience. Your family’s memories are important, deserve respect, and should honor each individual’s unique personality and how those personalities compliment the family unit. If you can’t get your child to behave, your photographer likely won’t be able to, either.
5. Consider nap times and meals when scheduling your session time. Sleepy, hungry people don’t typically photograph well, and even Photoshop can’t make them look happy to be there if they’re cranky.
6. No food, snacks, or drinks after dressing! Dozens upon dozens of moms have been heartbroken by a drip or a dribble from food or drinks on clothing – or faces! Even if stains can be digitally removed, there is usually a cost associated with that, which could be avoided. Make sure everyone is well rested and well fed before they dress for pictures so you can get straight to your appointment without wardrobe incident.
7. No Gum Chewing. The problem with gum is that it can poke out in a smile, cause motion blur by a mid-chew shutter-click, cause it to look like a tooth is missing, or make the mouth mis-shaped. With adults, it’s generally an easy fix – the gum is thrown away, but if a child shows up with gum and is asked to remove it, things may go sour and derail before the session ever gets started! It’s best to avoid.
8. Give your family plenty of time to get ready. Everyone should have time for wardrobe, hair, and (where applicable), make-up before heading to your session, and you’ll want to allow ample travel time. It’s awful for a family to spend so much time, effort, and investment in preparing for family photos only to show up frantic, rushed, or even miss their session because things were just running behind.
9. Talk to your family about what portraits you may consider purchasing from this experience. Does each member of the family get or need to have a picture of the group, or of break-downs and/or individual poses within the group? Some professionals suggest each child should have a portrait of themselves in their own room to make them feel valued and important as an individual within the family unit. Getting ready to have the images photographed is one thing, but you’ll also need to prepare in advance for what you plan to purchase, what payment options or plans may be available, and the extended family, friends, and associates with whom you may want to gift prints from the family portrait session for which you’ve so diligently prepared.
10. Relax! Have fun! Remember, you’re having this entire picture-perfect experience to celebrate the beauty of your family and each unique, individual member within your family unit as you grow together. You certainly don’t want “Aggravation” to be the caption for your family’s picture! Remember your why and enjoy the experience of having your family’s portraits made.
Wendi Mitchell is a writer, photographer, and small business owner in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Last Monday, we dropped Syrus, the Mitchell Mascott, off at the doggy hotel and set off for Alabama to be Grandma and Grandpa on duty. Our eldest grandchild, Payton, who is only two-and-a-half years old, was scheduled for double hernia surgery. Not only did we feel compelled to be there for him and his parents for support, but Payton also has a two month old baby sister, so we wanted to help care for her as well.
Road trips are very much a part of the Mitchell lifestyle. We’ve custom designed our business to allow us to make family first. Because our boutique operates by appointment only, much of our business is done online via client portals, cloud proofing, digital phone systems, and cloud-based software. Of course, this isn’t only convenient for us, but also for our customers who are able to view their images and make purchases from the comfort of home.
When we opened our first studio six years ago, we had no grandchildren, and a couple of our near-adult children still living at home. In just two and a half years, we’ve grown to a family of four current grandchildren with a fifth on the way! No matter where they travel in life, we want to be able to be there to love and support them, and we want them to know they are our legacy.
Payton amazed us all with how well he handled his procedure and recovery. Although he did protest the concept of leaving his parents behind while a nurse carried him off, and he woke up a bit rough (as he usually does from sleep), he never once complained of pain. He never whimpered, never slowed down! That child was up and playing within hours of coming home and handled it like a champ! Meanwhile, not only did I get to play with Payton, but also got to spend quality time cuddling and loving little miss Amie.
On our way back home Thursday, we had the great honor of stopping in to visit our brand new great-niece, born the same day as Payton’s surgery, August 19th, in Nashville.
Here’s this sweet baby, Hope, just over 24 hours old. How wonderful to see this new generation of family members coming to be. I look at their pictures – these wee ones, the newborns and toddlers, the teething crawlers, and I know I will some day be sitting at their graduations, their weddings, or, God-willing, that I may be photographing their babies in the hospital.
Generations. Ancestry. Family. It’s what we do it all for, no? We work, we dream, we plan, we hope, we pray – all for the love of our family. I am honored to have been gifted through marriage a career in photography that has taught me to capture and preserve these fleeting moments and memories. Having raised my own children – and now, empty-nesting, knowing full well how precious each moment is and how fast they fade, I have a new understanding of the value of capturing a moment in time.