When I first started this wild road to owning a photography business, I defaulted my style to what was expected. I did every type of session, with all the props and all the focus on perfection. I quickly realized that traditional photography was not for me.
When I transitioned to lifestyle photography I found the perfect match for me. Maybe it is for you too! Here is what I have found to be true that sets this style apart.
Unposed & authentic
Lifestyle portrait sessions are focused on natural interactions. Your photographer may guide you into an activity or a moment of closeness, but the connection that happens is completely authentic. I love that this style produces genuine smiles and giggles instead of tight-locked "cheese" grins.
centered around a feeling
Each family dynamic is unique. The way you play together, laugh together (or at each other) and the way you silently communicate - it's your family fingerprint - unlike any other. That feeling is what shines through with lifestyle images and what pulls you back to truth when you look at them.
tells your story
Lifestyle photography is more than just a time stamp for a holiday card. It's a reminder of your child's wild heart or curious nature, and a tether to a moment in your family's history. When I look at my own family's lifestyle images I am brought back to the conversations we had that made us laugh and the way we chased around our youngest through the grass. It makes me smile without even trying!
Does this sound like a perfect fit for you too?! Are you interested in learning more about a Lifestyle Photography Session for your family? Click the "Book Your Session" link below send me a message. I'd be happy to answer any questions you have.
There is something about a camera lens that is so intimidating. It's irritating, really, how quickly you can forget how to use your arms and legs properly. And what do you do with your hands?! Hips, pockets....nothing feels right. (Insert Talladega Nights meme here.) In the back of your head you consider going for ice cream instead of your photo session and just using last year's Christmas photo again.
Unless you are a professional "YouTuber", you have probably felt some sort of anxiety about stepping in front of the camera. Lord knows I am much happier behind the scenes. Let me put your mind at ease and show you how to enjoy your photography session.
1. I'm awkward, TOO! This may not make you feel better right away, but let me tell you why this is a good thing for you. I can sense when you feel uncomfortable, when something doesn't feel like "you" or you're having trouble connecting with each other. I can see it right away and fix what's not working before the shutter closes. So many times, people sense how anxious they are and then become even more self-conscious. The key is facing that awkwardness head on - embracing it rather than smothering it in fake smiles. I actually tell my clients that if they feel awkward they are doing it right!! It's sometimes the moments that you feel utterly ridiculous that brings out the most genuine smiles, giggles and connection.
2. Turn off your brain. This will be more challenging for people like me that like to be in control and know every detail about everything. Once you've arrived to the session, all the work on your part is done. Put your brain on "sleep mode" (kind of, I don't want you to actual fall asleep) and just be present. If your mind is distant in thought it will show through in your images. Let me do all the problem solving so you can enjoy this hour away from the dirty dishes with your family.
3. Trust Me. By the time you have arrived to your session, we will have had lots of correspondence. If you are a first time client, I will have asked several questions to get to know your family and even sent you a questionnaire. I'll know what images are most important to you and how each member of the family is different. I'll guide you together for each photograph, but ultimately let your natural connection take the lead. You can trust that I will photograph your family in a way that reflects who you are - and I hope this allows you the freedom to let go and have fun. (What a good segue into #4)
4. Let yourself have fun. Yes! I give you permission to have a great time! I know that sometimes the whispers in our head tell us that we will be judged for being completely and unashamedly ourselves, but I promise I am not judging you. (Unless you come wearing your Old Navy flip flops...then I might be a little.) So let your family be happy together, play and laugh, tell inside jokes and don't hide the blush in your face when your hubby flashes you an adoring glance. It's all good! You'll leave with beautiful and authentic images.
So you've got the date saved, the outfits all coordinated and even scheduled a hair cut for the hubs. Now you're just hoping that when your family photography sessions begins that your precious (and rambunctious) kiddos will just behave long enough to get a handful of decent images. You love your children and all the personality that comes with them, but you can't help but worry that their true selves (and true smiles) won't be reflected in your gallery.
Hey, sister...I hear you and I've been there. Grab a cup of coffee, take a breath, and let me help you out. Contrary to what the title suggests, most of my tips have more to do with you than your kids. (Great news, right!? You're in control of you!)
Tip #1 - Tell your children what will happen at the session. The day before is great. Kids don't typically have great short-term memory unless it's related to ice cream. Tell them who they will be meeting and where they will be going. (Ex: "Tomorrow we're going to take some family pictures with Jamie at the park. She can't wait to meet you!") You could pull up your photographer's website and let them see a picture of the person behind the camera and some images from other sessions. You could also bring out photographs from previous family sessions to help them understand.
Tip #2 - Allow time for everyone to get acquainted. Arriving to a new place in their best clothes makes kids excited, and sometime apprehensive. Whether they arrive with enthusiasm and smiles or hiding behind your legs - they need time to adjust before stepping in front of the camera. Let them have 5 minutes to show off new shoes, explore the new landscape and get comfortable. If they have this time, I promise it will make the rest of the session so much easier.
Tip #3 - Stay positive. I can't stress this enough. As much as we would love to become puppeteers and control their every move - it's just not reality. No matter how they are feeling or behaving, kids will always respond better to gentleness and positivity. Keep from shouting instructions or threatening punishments. This stresses them out and they don't have the coping skills that you do.
Tip #4 - Let there be one voice. As a parent, you are used to being the voice of authority and instruction 24/7. I also know that it is every parents intention to be helpful. My advice is to allow my voice to be the one they hear instructing them. Kids can very quickly feel overwhelmed when several people are guiding them at the same time. When the session begins, take some time introducing me to them and letting them know that I will be helping them know what to do. This way they expect my help and know they have your permission to listen.
Tip #5 - Share any specific behaviors, disabilities or difficulties your child may have. I know that these things are very personal and you want your child protected (especially from judgement and misunderstanding). If your child has ADHD, Sensory Disorders, physical or mental handicaps, or may be negatively triggered by certain words and touch - it is very helpful to know this in advance.
You have my promise to keep this information confidential and to be sensitive to your family's needs. I want to make sure that your child feels comfortable and doesn't have to overhear you discussing their personal struggles when everyone arrives.
Tip #6 - Let them have some freedom. This is where we work together the most. It doesn't take long for kiddos to become exhausted with posing (even though there isn't much posing involved). If they get distracted or become unwilling to participate - don't get upset. Allow them to wander a bit (not too far) and feel a little control for a moment. I usually use this time to get candid images and play along to let them know this is a fun time. After a few minutes, both you and I can work together to redirect attention back to the next part of the session.
More than anything else, I want you to know - you're children are AMAZING! As a mother, my strongest desire when introducing my children to new people is that they would see them and love them like I do. I want you to know that I think you're kiddos are awesome and all the silly, sassy, bashful and curious parts of their personalities are as well.
If you planned on having spring family photos taken in 2020, chances are that COVID-19 changed those plans for you. As our lives are slowing returning to "normal" and your getting those roots touched up, split ends trimmed and a fresh coat of shine and simmer on your nails - the next item on the list is to FINALLY get those pics scheduled. It's made the list if for no other reason than to have record that y'all survived! (Am I right?!)
The summer heat can make a family photography session a challenge - especially in the humidity of Southern Oklahoma. So before you set the family up for a sweat-fest, let's talk about what you can do to make your summer session fun and enjoyable.
WORK WITH THE SUN - NOT AGAINST IT
The best time of day to schedule your session is during Golden Hour - about an hour before sunset. Why, you ask? When the sun is low on the horizon it creates beautiful color and a softer light than in the middle of the day. Both harsh shadows (not so complimentary on the face) and heat can be avoided by scheduling at Golden Hour. Want another bonus? You could also score an epic sunset image!
If Golden Hour doesn't work for your family, consider a morning session. Scheduling about an hour after sunrise can hold similar benefits.
CLOTHING IS KEY
When considering how to coordinate your family's attire, choose clothing that is breathable and comfortable. Avoid layering fabrics and consider pieces that fit loosely.
HYDRATION AND BRIBERY
Make sure that everyone arrives to the session properly hydrated and bring some water (even a cooler) with you for afterwards. You may even consider packing a few popsicles or other cold treats in the cooler as a reward for your child's cooperation (it's okay if all your best parenting strategies are put on hold for an hour to get your child's best smiles - no judgement here!) You could also make plans to visit your local ice cream store on the way home.
FIGHT THE FRIZZ BEFORE IT STARTS
Girl, I KNOW how frustrating it can be to spend all that time styling your hair to perfection only to see it poof into a giant frizz ball the moment you open your car door. After all the hard work that went into getting your family here in one, flawlessly coordinated piece - this just seems to be the thing that makes you want to throw in the towel.
Here's some advice to get you from losing your cool and keeping the doo looking gorgeous.
Consider skipping shampoo the night before. For some of us, it's our normal hair routine to wash every other night, and some of us it's not. If you have frizz-prone hair, skipping a day of hair washing may help to keep your hair from drying out and poofing up. When styling your hair, use a hair serum to promote conditioning and shine. Once you're through styling, use an anti-frizz hair spray to set it all in place.
LET'S TALK TAN LINES
When you get the perfect outfit nailed down, check to make sure that it doesn't expose any tan lines. If it does, take some time in the sun prior to the session to correct the lines, use a self-tanning lotion, or make an adjustment to the outfit. Guys are not excluded! Make sure your man doesn't have tan lines from his favorite hat or sunglasses (yes, that little line above the ears DOES SHOW).
SUNSCREEN - ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA
No matter what time you schedule your session, keep that beautiful skin protected. Apply sunscreen BEFORE you get dressed and put on make up. This way, it has plenty of time to dry and everyone is ready when you arrive. Applying sunscreen when you arrive equals frustration ('cause it never goes on fast), white smears, spots on clothes, and that yucky, sticky feeling.
PLAN SOME COOL OFF FUN
If your family is up to it, plan for the last part of the session to be tons of fun in the water. Not only will it be refreshing, but it will also make for amazing photographs. You could splash in the water at a lake, have a water fight, or just simply dip your feet in from the safety of a dock. Of course, if you do decide to go this route, make sure you pack extra clothes and towels for the ride home.
NOW GO HAVE THE BEST SUMMER PHOTOGRAPHY SESSION EVER!
Hi! I am Jamie Smith, owner of Oak Tree Photography in Southern Oklahoma.