You’d never know from these pictures that Harper was having an epic meltdown the entire session (which if you know her at all is so unlike her and so unexpected!). But we still ended up with great family pictures despite that fact because of our awesome photographer Topher Delancy (thank god cause I was nervous nothing was going to turn out). I actually met Topher through Instagram where I follow him @tophography_ and all of his work. I’ve been such a fan of his photos for a while and when he announced he was coming to AZ and doing some sessions over Thanksgiving weekend I got in touch with him right away. Perfect timing for holiday pictures and we even got a quick maternity session in that I’m so incredibly excited about. Like really, I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a picture that has made me feel prettier! Meeting someone in real life that you’ve met through the internet is such a crazy thing and I couldn’t have asked for it to go any better. Topher was so easy to work with, had such a chill attitude and was so good at dealing with Harper even through the rough parts (he has two little girls of his own so that’s got to help!). And since Wyatt and I are so happy with how everything turned out I started thinking of some tips and tricks for better family portraits even though we kind of had a rougher go at them this year.
#1. Go with a Pro! Or if you can’t afford it, harass a friend or family member that has a decent camera to do them. Just don’t try and do them yourself with a tripod or without. It’s stressful enough to get everything together without worrying about setting everything up and getting the timer going etc. My mom usually takes our family pictures and they turn out great but it was so fun to get someone else’s point of view behind the lens for a change and get some really different photos than our norm. There are so many good photographers out there and a lot even do discounted mini sessions around the holidays to make themselves a little more available. Skip going out for coffee and sip at home to save some money for a couple months and you’d be surprised at how quickly it adds up. Pictures last forever, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed to have those memories in pictures for years to come.
#2. Don’t go in hungry or tired! And that goes for kiddos and adults. No ones in the mood to have their picture taken while their bellies are grumbling or when the babes are so overtired that they can’t quit crying or whining. Aim for first thing in the morning or after lunch/naptime. (disclaimer: we did all of this with Harper and she still wasn’t having it but at least we could cross it off our list)
#3. Go outside! Studios are great and all but I think it’s so awesome to be outside and have that whole natural element to the shoot. I never thought we’d end up with such pretty pictures with a plain desert background but it’s great because it isn’t distracting and Topher really worked with the nature around us. We had shots through the bushes and he even found some broken glass that gave such a cool rainbow effect to several of the pictures. I’m dying to do a beach shoot and a shoot up in the mountains with some snow. So many options! Plus I feel like it’s easier to just be natural and not stiffen up when you’re outside. We had several good pictures of Harper while she was playing in the dirt, go figure!
#4. Plan ahead! I’ve already brought up time of day and how important that is but planning outfits, accessories etc. is such a part of it too. And don’t wait till last minute! (talk about stressful) Have everyones outfits and add ons laid out a couple days in advance in case anyone changes their mind or if something needs dry cleaned. I also thing it’s important to make sure you either have a color theme or that there’s no clashing elements. Neutrals are great too then you don’t end up with photos that scream Christmas that you don’t really want to display all year long. I want to get a ton of our pictures printed and put onto canvas to put up in our house, they look classic. And also take into account any props you might want to use like a wagon for your kids or even your pets. I brought a hat that I didn’t even think I’d use and Topher wanted me to put it on and those ended up being some of my favorites!
#5. Relax! If you’ve gone with a pro this is even easier. This is their job, they know how to make you look good! The more you act like yourselves the better your pictures will turn out. Try not to stress if your babies crying or your dress isn’t fitting you exactly the way you thought it would, no one can see that if you’re not broadcasting it. Try and keep the session short and sweet so no one gets grumpy or bored. I feel like we get some of the best shots in the first ten minutes and then if there’s any good ones after that then it’s just a bonus.
I hope that these tips are helpful and make your next session go just a little easier. They don’t always work (we are human and can’t control everything) but they can definitely help! I also recommend getting them printed out to display in your home or for your family and friends. We used a couple of these pictures for our holiday cards that we got through Tiny Prints and they turned out so great! We’ve also used Shutterfly in the past and like them a lot. We got so many good pictures and these are just some of my favorites, check them out!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays all!
Literally the only way to get her to smile was to keep some food in her hands (she stole daddy’s protein bar)