What to Wear for Family Photos

What to Wear for Family Photos

You’ve booked your family photo session, and now it’s time to choose your clothing.  If you have a family of 3, that’s 3 complete outfits.  Family of 4? 4 outfits.  Family of 6? SIX outfits!  You get the point.  Here are some tips on what to wear for family photos.

This is my family at one of our favorite vacation spots, Destin.  We have years of beach pictures on our walls, but this is the first year that I hired a photographer for our pictures.  We won’t get into how “happy” my boys were about me scheduling pictures while on vacay…  Beyond getting my kids ready for pictures and dragging them AND my husband there, choosing our outfits is definitely the most stressful part about family pictures.  Here are 3 of my best tips to choosing great coordinating outfits.

#1. Choose an inspiration piece.

My #1 biggest piece of advice for EVERY family session is to choose an inspiration piece first.  That is one outfit, dress, or shirt that you will use to pull everything else together.  It should be your favorite of all the outfits.  You want to love it!  This can be a pattern or color.  Then use the color or colors in this piece to choose every other family member’s outfit.

Can you guess the inspiration piece for our family pictures?  If you guessed my dress, you are right!  I LOVE maxi dresses for moms and daughters at photo sessions.  Why?  Well, they give photos movement and add interest to your pictures.  They also cover up your legs.  (Not that I don’t want to see your legs!)  But if you sit down in a short dress, you have to sit a very specific way, and it limits my angles for photographing you.  I also find, that we are always pulling down a short dress.  With a maxi dress, you don’t have this problem.  Some of my absolute favorite vendors for maxi dresses are Forever 21, Free People, and Vici.  If you can find a great inspiration piece, all of the other outfits will fall into place easily.

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My boys (including husband) were not happy about stopping vacation time for family pictures. However they were great sports, and these pictures will mean so much to me forever!

#2. Choose coordinating colors and tones.

Since we have so many beach pictures already, I wanted to do something a little different at the beach.  My most important request was using the jetties.  I love how the rocks give a different vibe to the pictures.  Usually when you think beach pictures, you thing of pastel colors.  Think colors that you see in a sunset.  But we’ve been there, done that. I wanted something different.  When I found this rust colored dress from Forever 21, I knew it was perfect.  I wore my favorite OMI bracelets with white and gray beads.  So I chose those shades for my boys’ and husband’s shirts and shorts.  I knew they would complement the rocks beautifully.  Notice how nobody matches.  The key to a great family picture wardrobe is coordinating, NOT matching.

One more piece of advice while we are on the color subject.  Keep the colors of your home in mind when planning outfits.  You are going to want to display these pictures in your home, and you want them to look good with your home’s color palette.  This is one reason why I love neutrals for pictures.  They look great everywhere.

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My boys are NOT fans of family pictures. But can you tell that one of them LOVED climbing the dunes. He is the monkey of the family.

#3. Don’t overthink it.

If your family is anything like mine, they are going to moving around. A LOT.  You want everyone to be comfortable with what they are wearing.  You definitely don’t want fights over wardrobes when you are getting out of the car.  My go to for my boys is a pair of simple khaki shorts.  This year we did khaki and gray.  And the best part of pictures at the beach??? We didn’t have to worry about shoes!  Remember, once the stress of choosing the outfits and getting everyone ready is over, you want to relax and love on your family.

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I love these dunes in Destin. They aren’t the typical beachy feel that you get on the gulf coast. I love how unique they are!

I hope this helps you wrangle in some ideas on what to wear for family pictures.  For more ideas, visit my What to Wear board on Pinterest.  Some of my favorite places to find clothing for boys is Old Navy and H & M.  These are also great for girls, but also check out Bailey’s Blossoms and Zara.  As always, feel free to email me with pictures if you need any help.  I love this stuff!

HUGE thank you to Heather Clark Photography for these beautiful pictures of my family.

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What is a Fresh 48 Session?

What is a Fresh 48 Session

A Fresh 48 session is a photo session taken with your new baby in the hospital hours after birth.  These sessions have gained in popularity in the past few years.  They document baby’s first hours and all of the details from your hospital stay.  The memories of those first few days won’t last forever, but your pictures will!

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You will get a great mixture of pictures with baby alone and with family.

Why should you book a Fresh 48 Session?

Fresh 48 sessions are great for parents who want to capture baby’s arrival without documenting the birth.  Many parents schedule a Fresh 48 session in the hospital so they don’t have to worry about taking pictures.  A Fresh 48 session guarantees that they will have quality pictures and can enjoy their time in the hospital without worrying about missing any pictures.

Once baby is born and you are settled in your room, I will come to the hospital for your session.  This is typically on day 2.  Since I use natural light, I come during daylight hours.  Between doctors, nurses, and visitors, we don’t have a large window of time for pictures.  Sessions typically last about 45 minutes.  This allows time for individual pictures of baby, pictures with parents, and meeting siblings.

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We will document all of the little details from baby’s first hours on earth.

Documenting Older Siblings

Watching your older children become big brothers and sisters is one of the most exciting parts of adding a new baby to the family.  This is one of the most special parts of a Fresh 48 session.

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Many parents book Fresh 48 hospital sessions to capture siblings meeting the baby for the first time.

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Big brother and baby sister exchange gifts.

Ty + Julia Kate

Ty had already met his big sister before I came to the hospital.  However, they had a special gift exchange that I was honored to capture.  He gave his baby sister a bracelet, and she gave him a BIG truck.  I just loved all of Ty’s expressions.  This is such a big change in his life, and these pictures will be priceless when he is older.

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Fresh 48 hospital sessions focus on you meeting your newest addition.

Booking Your Fresh 48 Session

If this sounds like a session that you are interested in, I’d love to hear from you.  I currently only book 1 Fresh 48 session a month.  Contact me to find out if I have openings the month of your due date.

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Why Not Pinterest? A Photographer’s Views on Pinterest

I LOVE Pinterest.  I probably have 50 boards on Pinterest.  I pin recipes, home decorating ideas, hair styles, clothing inspiration, vacation locations, and more.  I love Pinterest so much, I have to cut myself off so that I don’t spend hours pinning things.  BUT when it comes to newborn, baby, maternity, and family photography inspiration, I want MY site to be your Pinterest.  Why you ask?  Well, Pinterest is full of beautiful photographs. You can get so much inspiration from it.  However, Pinterest pictures are not my pictures.  When you choose me as your photographer, I want you to choose me for my work and style.

If you have already booked your session with me, you have seen my little note about Pinterest in my Client Agreement.  When you book your session, you complete a client agreement and planning guide.  This is your chance to tell me colors, props, and poses that you like.  You will also see a note that requests no Pinterest pictures.

Sooo…… why not Pinterest?  Here are 3 things you should NOT use Pinterest for when planning your photo session.

#1: Poses

You can find thousands of posing ideas on Pinterest.  From maternity and newborn photography to wedding photography.  Some poses are beautiful, and honestly some are pretty cheesy.  However, Pinterest is not the place to find posing ideas.  As an artist, I have invested thousands of dollars in training and workshops.  I spend hours each month catching up on posing techniques and safety practices.  After 8 years in business, I have fine tuned my newborn workflow.  I have tricks and games I use for maternity and family sessions.  All of these things come together to create photos and beautiful sessions, and I want this to be the reason you hire me.  I don’t want you to have to put together a pinboard of poses and ideas.  That is my job.  When you come to me, you are trusting me so that I do all the work, not you.

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Although froggy pose is one of our most requested poses, not every baby will pose in this position. I will never force baby into a pose where he or she is not comfortable.

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Specific poses don’t work for every family our couple. I want to capture you being YOU.

#2: Props

You can find newborn pictures online with all sorts of props.  However, when you book a newborn or baby session with me, you don’t have to bring a thing.  If you have been to my studio, you know my problem.  I am a self-confessed prop addict.  It’s a problem.  Seriously.  Oh, and I have 2 boys.  So I never got to do the girl thing.  So the girl props are a little out of control!  I have hundreds of props, layers, blankets, swaddles, bonnets, and headbands galore.  With that said, ALL of my props are specifically sized and designed for specific ages.  My newborn props are all hand knit pieces in newborn sizes.  They have come from all of the world.  They are beautiful colors and so soft you could snuggle up and sleep with them.  My headbands, tiebacks, and floral crowns are all made to fit a small newborn’s head.  I do not recommend crochet items.  Crochet items tend to be bulkier and don’t fit well.  The are also uncomfortable to put on baby.  I also do not recommend store bought items or clothing.  Store bought items just don’t fit baby the way we need to fit for newborn pictures, and clothing takes away from newborn poses.

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The studio is stocked with props from around the world. Each bonnet, hat, and headband is designed and sized to fit a newborn perfectly.

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All of our newborn accessories are handmade specifically to fit a newborn.

#3: Locations

I have probably said this a million times, but I don’t think I can say it too much.  I choose ALL of my outdoor locations based on light.  Yep, that’s it.  Light.  I always say I would pick a junkyard with great light over a beautiful botanical garden with terrible light any day.  Now, I can’t always guarantee a gorgeous sunset, but even on a cloudy day, light guides my sessions.  Each week I drive around town looking locations with beautiful light.  If you’ve read my previous blog post about Maternity Sessions through the Seasons, you see that locations change by the season.  They change even more frequently in the spring and fall.  But one thing that all of my locations MUST have in common is beautiful light.

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I drive around town weekly looking for new locations with beautiful lighting.

Inspired by the Season

So….. where do I find my photography inspiration?  Lots of the time, it’s by the season.  In the spring, I love using pastels.  In the fall and winter, I love using deep colors and jewel tones.  I get inspiration from colors in your home and baby’s nursery.  I even get inspiration from my beautiful prop vendors.  I love walking through antique shops and finding unique pieces.  I walk through Pottery Barn, Homegoods, and other home decor shops to keep up with the current trends in homes.

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I LOVE getting color inspiration from the seasons.

Unique props and setups

One of the biggest reasons my clients choose me as their photographer is for my unique setups.  My style is natural and rustic.  I love using earth tones, items from nature, greenery, flowers, and textures.  I try not to follow other photographers with styles similar to mine so that I don’t feel tempted to copy them.  I want to come up with my own setups so that my style stays cohesive and consistent.  AND I try to never use the same setup twice!

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Many of my clients book a newborn session with me specifically for my unique setups.

How CAN You Use Pinterest?

I still think Pinterest is a great resource for planning your photo sessions.  In fact, I send all of my clients boards that I have pinned for their photo sessions.  These include What to Wear boards and First Birthday Inspiration boards.  Pinterest is a great resource for pulling together coordinating clothing.  I have boy and girl clothing boards as well as a maternity board for brands of clothing I think photograph well.  My First Birthday inspiration board does not have other photographer’s work.  Instead it has current trends in birthday decor, smash cakes I love, and even wedding cakes.  I love using Pinterest as a tool to plan, just not copy.

I hope this gives you a little insight into my vision for my sessions.  I want to do ALL of the work, so that all you have to do is sitback and enjoy the process.  If you’d like to chat more about a photo session, I’d love to hear from you.

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  • Linda Bainter - You are a true artist!  Your ability to pose a curled newborn, is what makes you stand out from other photographers. Knowing what a baby is capable of and what they are able to do, comes from your years of experience.  As I have followed your work, I love the natural sense of style you have in how you build a session.  It shows in how you pull together pastel or rich colors along with natural fibers and textures to compliment your babies.  Your work is elegant and timeless.  Pinterest should be full of your work. ReplyCancel

  • Melissa Hartigan - You images are pure perfection! I love everything about your style.  I have been following you for a few years and I look forward to each and every blog post.ReplyCancel

  • Katie - Love!!! Absolutely LOVE this post! Clients choose you and trust YOU based on your expertise and that you will provide the beat possible product to them. You have a gift of capturing these beautiful moments uniquely for each client??ReplyCancel

  • Lindsay - This! I love everything about this post. I think a lot of times clients tend to forget that they’ve hired someone who has years of training and experience with this. It really is important to allow the photographer creative control, after all, your creativity is what drew them to you in the first place, right? Great blog! Beautiful work!ReplyCancel

  • Natasha Wiening Photography - I love that you offer the full package. You are a true artist!ReplyCancel

Seasonal Maternity Photographs

Seasonal Maternity Photographs

Outdoor maternity photos have my heart.  Through the years I have tried different looks and trends.  I have taken workshops with fine art maternity photographers.  I have tried stocking a maternity gown closet.  Nothing quite clicked or felt right until this year.  I feel like this is the year when I truly found my niche.

My maternity sessions are real.  They focus on your connections.  They are full of love.  I am not a fine art photographer.  I don’t do a lot of posing.  Instead I gently guide you into poses, and then watch you make it your own.  I have found my love and my place for maternity photography in outdoor photography.  Just like my family photography, maternity photos take place outdoors at sunset.  I choose locations based on lighting, and sun drenched fields are my jam.  Really there is nothing better.  Maternity sessions are the only sessions that I offer outdoors year round.

I’ve also realized that every woman is different.  Our bodies and tastes are different, and a maternity closet full of photo shoot gowns just doesn’t work for everyone.  So I do not stock maternity gowns.  Instead I send clients an inspiration board and list of brand recommendations.  That way mommies can chose their own outfit and wear it several more times.

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Erin’s maternity session was schedule late September. Since this is the end of summer, you still see rich greens and golden tones from that warm summer sun.

Winter Maternity Photography

Since maternity photos take place during weeks 30-34, you don’t have much choice on the season for your pictures.  I’ll be honest.  Winter shoots can be difficult to plan.  The weather is unpredictable.  It’s probably going to be really cold.  But if you can stand it for a short time, they are most definitely worth it!  There are lots of browns in the backgrounds of winter shoots, but the golden sun at sunset can make it magical.  You also have to prepare to dress in layers.  I LOVE maxi dresses for all maternity shoots.  When it’s cold, you can layer a maxi dress with an oversized sweater.  AND if you are lucky, it may snow in time for your session!  I love the leftover snow in Jamie’s winter maternity session.  Two years ago, we lucked out with one of our biggest snowfalls, and I photographed these gorgeous snow maternity photos.  My fingers are crossed that we get that chance again!

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Jamie’s maternity session was in the winter. We even lucked out with some snow on the ground!

 

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This is another winter maternity session. I usually use fields for all winter maternity sessions. I love the brown tones. But last winter I discovered this patch of pine trees. I love the deep golden pop of color that it adds.

Spring Maternity Photography

The weather is really unpredictable in the spring.  Everyone is ready for spring clothes, but usually the temperatures don’t cooperate.  Adults can handle being cold through a photo session, but if you have other children, you will need to plan outfits with layers in case it is cold the day of your session.  Trees and bushes are just starting to turn green, but there are still lots of browns in the background.  Spring colors look great this time of year.

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Lindsay’s maternity session took place in early spring. You can see there is just a peek of green on the trees. Everything is still pretty wintery looking in March and early April.

 

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Sabrina’s maternity photos were late spring and early summer. I LOVE this transition season. The weather is still nice and things are turning nice and green.

Summer Maternity Photography

I LOVE the deep vivid colors in the summer.  I love long days and late sunsets.  There are SO many options for summer maternity shoots.  With that said…. summers in Tennessee are hot, muggy, and full of bugs.  Summer photo sessions are kind of like child birth.  Once you see the end result, you forget about everything else!

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The middle of the summer is full of deep greens. And humidity, heat, mosquitoes, and ticks… oh my!

Fall Maternity Photography

Fall is the most sought after season for photography.  Dates book up QUICKLY in the fall.  If you are due during this season, I recommend scheduling your maternity session several months in advance.  The weather is beautiful in the fall, and the colors are gorgeous.  Clothing in rich jewel tones and neutral shades look beautiful.

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Can you guess the season? Yep, that’s right. In the fall, the fields have those beautiful deep browns and golds. Sometimes we even luck out with yellow flowers. (Otherwise known as ragweed! Achoo!)

You probably have figured out that there are pros and cons with photos in every season.  The best piece of advice is to be prepared.  Dress for the weather, and come to have fun.  If you do both of those, you will have a successful shoot.  With maternity sessions you don’t get to pick your season, but every season is beautiful in it’s own way.  I am currently booking maternity photo sessions for 2019.  I’d love to chat with you about yours!

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Don’t Say Cheese | My Philosophy for Family Photography

This post has been sitting on my mind for a year.  It has taken me a full year to find the words to say, and even now I don’t know how well I’ll be able to say them.  It was exactly one year ago from today, that I was given the task of getting pictures together for my dad’s funeral.  I was 36 years old and couldn’t believe he was taken from me so soon.  As I dug through pictures on my computer, photo albums, and photos I had taken of photos, I found one thing in common.  Every.single.picture that I was drawn to, every.single.picture that made me tear up, every.single.picture that I wanted to share, that brought up a memory, that made me smile, EVERY.SINGLE.PICTURE was not a “cheese” picture.  It wasn’t the pictures where we were staring and smiling at the camera and goodness we had tons of those.  My high school graduation, our summers in Florida, fishing trips… they were all documented.  But those weren’t the pictures that tugged at my heart.  It was the picture were he was looking at me that made me break down.  The love in his eyes when he looked at his baby girl.  I don’t remember this moment, but gosh I can see how much he loved me.

THIS my friends, is what it is all about.

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Last year I sat in a cold hospital room holding my dad’s hand and looking at this picture. I just wanted to see his smile one more time.

Why I don’t want you to say “cheese”

Several years ago, I decided to stop focusing on family photography and specialize in newborn and baby photography.  I wasn’t enjoying family photography anymore.  I felt pressure for posed family photography, and I didn’t love it.  So I focused on what I loved.  However, every now and then, I’d take time to photograph a family for fun.  I’d do “my” thing and LOVED it.  I wouldn’t move from pose to pose.  I played with my clients.  I watched them interact together.  I took the pressure off of them to stare and smile at the camera.  Family photo sessions started to be more fun.  (For me AND my clients.)  I fell back in love with family photography.

In this age of social media, all of our pictures seem to stay digital.  We want beautiful pictures as our profile pictures.  I get it.  But anyone can grab a camera and tell your family to smile.  I want to capture moments.  I want to document love.  I want to freeze your emotions at this moment.  The things you may be too busy to see.  Your kids may be too young to remember these moments, but one day they will look back at your photographs and know your love for them.  They will see how you looked at them with amazement in your eyes.  You can’t just grab a camera and say “cheese” to make it happen.

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One common factor that I want you to see in ALL of my family pictures is emotion.

My Family Photography Philosophy

I want each and every one of my family sessions to be laid back and fun.  If you are stressed, you will see it in your pictures.  Yep, your hair may cover your face.  There may be a hand out of focus.  A collar may be wrinkled.  A shirt may come untucked.  But these things?  You aren’t going to focus on them in 10, 20, or 50 years.  So sit back, relax, play with your kids, and love on them.  That’s what memories are made of.

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Rhett didn’t want to smile when he was sitting by himself. He was happiest in mom and dads arms.

 

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I just love how you can see the love this family has for their newest baby girl.

 

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Her hand on daddy’s face just melts me.

Our Family Photography Experience

I know everyone has different tastes and styles.  That is ok!  If you are looking for a formal, posed portrait, I am NOT your girl.  After 8 years in business, I have learned that I have to do what I love, and THIS is how I love capturing families.

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This is one of my earliest memories. I still remember sitting on the sink in the bathroom while my dad put shaving cream on my face.

Do you see this guy? Do you see the laughter and happiness in his eyes? I wish I could hear that laugh again. But until then, I have pictures to hold the memories.

4 comments
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  • Katie - Oh… Shannon. This. ALL of this. My heart. I remember when your dad passed. You are so, SO right about every single point. It’s about the MOMENT, the love captured, the emotion. All these reasons why I love photography and exactly how you capture each image. So beautiful, friend<3ReplyCancel

  • Natasha Wiening - Shannon, this is beautifully written and I couldn’t agree with you more. I too love photographing in a relaxed style which shows love and laughter, they are true images and creative a positive vibe in a home. The photos you have with your daddy are so special, I am sure he is watching you feeling very very proud xxReplyCancel

  • Krystal - This is my favorite post you’ve ever done. I couldn’t agree more and you put it into words so perfectly!! Wonderful read and gorgeous images!ReplyCancel

  • Linda - The interaction between your families shows the love and fun they have together.  Beautiful work!ReplyCancel

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