I often get this question from clients prior to their session (Which is good. Getting that question after their session would hardly be helpful now, would it?).
Hiring a professional photographer can be a bit daunting. You've committed to a date and time, find yourself at the mercy of New England weather, and crossing your fingers the kids won't get sick, and the grown-ups will feel camera-ready. Hurricanes and chicken pox outbreaks aside, here are some tips for looking your best and rocking your session. Keep in mind that these are suggestions, not hard and fast rules.
WHAT TO WEAR
Some colors tend to flatten skin tones and prevent photos from really popping. White can make your photo bland and add ten pounds in the camera, and more pastel-type colors (as well as pale grays) can make some people's skin tones look washed-out. Stick with colors you know you look good in. Don't be afraid of bold, unless it's really not your style. That said, 'got a new white dress you feel fabulous in? Then go for it!
If you're in a group, compliment each other without being matchy-matchy. Everyone in matching chinos and white polos will leave you looking like you belong on a real estate billboard in Florida. WE DON'T WANT THAT! The key is to select colors that compliment each other and are in the same end of the color spectrum, but aren't identical. If you go with the same color, mix it up by choosing varying clothing styles to show each person's individuality.
Choose accessories which will show off your personality but not detract by being too wild or flashy.
IF KIDS WILL BE IN YOUR SESSION
KIDS! When dressing little ones, including babies, avoid shirts with charming phrases on them as it will be very hard to make them readable in your shots. Avoid fussy (think sailor suit). If they're not used to hats and headbands, skip them. You won't get natural shots of your child if they are uncomfortable with what they are wearing. Dressing your child (or letting them dress themselves!) to show their personality can really add to their photos.
Props. If your shoot is taking place in your home I will often use what I find there. Does you're little one have a ragged bunny she can't part with? Let Bunny join the session! It will only add personality and nostalgia of your collection. Bubbles are fun to have on hand too.
Don't forget to schedule around nap time and meals, and whatever you do, don't let your little one get hangry. Make sure they are fed and have had a potty-break beforehand.
BREATHE! If you are relaxed, your child will be relaxed. How would you feel if you had multiple people barking at you to "smile!". Not so great, right? So come to your sessions with an open mind and breathe deep. Not all wonderful photos are of subjects smiling right into the camera. If you're doing group shots, bring along a toy that I can hold to keep their attention during group shots where we are trying to catch a few with everyone facing the lens. Don't be shy about singing a song or telling a knock knock joke (potty humor is always a big hit for 4-8 year olds!). Make silly faces. Or, simply take a walk and leave it to me! I'll make fart noises until we get the shot!
Your session might include lots of moving around. I might plop your kids in the middle of your bed (provided you don't mind) and let them jump around for some fun action shots, or maybe on my way to your home I notice an interesting stone wall in your neighborhood. We may end up takin' a walk to hang out on that wall. If you have a place that's special to you, don't be shy about letting me know. This helps you get a variety of shots, and it keeps things fresh and helps prevent boredom for kids and grown-ups too. Alternatively, I may come into your home and find everything we need for the perfect session is right there in front of me. You just never know. Just remember to go with the flow and enjoy the experience!