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A Photographer's Secrets for a Flawless Family Photo Shoot
Lifestyle
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Nov 12, 2020
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10 MIN READ
Danah Shuli
contributing writer
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Photographer Kadejah Zaghari
Danah Shuli
contributing writer
‘Tis the season for outdoor family photoshoots. With the autumn foliage in full bloom, it’s the picture-perfect opportunity for capturing those sweet smiles amidst the beauty of Allah’s (S) creation. Fall is a time of change, a transition from one season to the next. From the scorching heat of the summer to the blistering cold of the winter, fall is the median that reminds us change can be beautiful.
Planning a family photoshoot is an ode to that sentiment. It’s about holding onto a piece of the present while embracing the reality that it won't last forever. “So often we get lost in this fast-paced lifestyle that we forget to inhale the moments we have with our loved ones,” says photographer Kadejah Zaghari. “Those moments that you cannot freeze or pause. Those special moments that just slip out of your hand. When you look back you wish you spent a little longer time, effort and love. You can freeze those moments, through a beautifully composed photograph.”
Kadejah, born in California but North Carolina raised, is a dear friend of mine. After losing her father at the age of 14, photographs played a crucial part of her life, memories frozen in time that she could hold on to. Her passion to capture as many memories as possible led her to embrace photography as a professional career. She started her own business, Deda Photography. Kadejah graduated with her bachelors in Fine Arts with a concentration in Photography and an Art History, Islamic Studies minor from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and is the creative behind her photography Instagram accounts dedazphotography and deda.portraits.
There’s a lot that goes into planning a family photoshoot, whether in the fall or at any time of year. With six years of shooting families and individual photos for a variety of occasions, Kadejah knows a thing or two about what you’ll need in order to prepare for your upcoming family photoshoot. Check out the following tips to plan for and have the best and most beautiful family photo shoots!
Minis vs. Family Portrait Sessions
Kadejah and her daughters doing their own photo shoot!
When it comes to choosing which type of session you’d like to book, here are a few differences to keep in mind.
Mini session: Duration: 24-35 minutes; Cost: $125 - $250
Mini sessions are usually done around the holidays or specific times of the year, like autumn. They tend to be themed and set up by the photographer, who provides props and decides on the location (some photographers, however, work with the family’s needs to choose a location). The mood and feel of the photos are based on the photographer’s style and taste, so keep that in mind when choosing a photographer. Check out their portfolio and editing style.
Photographers offer specific time slots and dates for a limited time that clients can choose from. Fall is a popular season for photoshoots, especially for “Fall Mini’s.” Kadejah explains that most photographers choose to shoot in early October through mid November to take advantage of the peak foliage as well as to keep layers at a minimum. The longer you wait to take your photos the more layers you will need, which may become uncomfortable and will consequently reflect in your photos. Also, the longer you wait, the less leaves there will be on the trees.
Mini’s are a great option for families with little ones who have short attention spans. The limited time will allow the photographer to capture the perfect smiles before children start to get bored and uncooperative. These shorter sessions are also a great option for families who would like to get some quick refresh photos for the season or for your holiday and seasonal cards. The focus, in a mini session, is usually on the family without doing individual shots of children or parents, but this is also depending on the photographer.
Portrait session; Duration: Usually an hour (can be longer); Cost: $250 - $400+
Portrait sessions can be done throughout the year and for various life occasions or for updating your family photos. They are a longer and more personalized experience tailored to the client’s wants and personal taste. The client sets the tone of the photoshoot, alongside the help and expertise of the photographer, and decides on the location and time.
With a portrait session you get a variety of different shot combinations, such as family, single, siblings, parents alone, parents with siblings, candid shots and so on. During a portrait session, clients are typically able to change locations and outfits during a given session depending on the photographer’s policy. These types of sessions work well with families who have older children, couples or individuals celebrating a life event such as graduation, engagement, maternity or lifestyle newborn shoots.
What to Wear
Carefully planning your family photo outfits is an important part of the experience. It is also more aesthetically pleasing and will make your photos look more cohesive overall. If you are choosing a fall mini session, be sure to ask your photographer for the location and mood of the set up beforehand in order to coordinate your outfits accordingly. If you are going for a portrait fall session with different looks, take some extra time and to decide on the different styles you’d like to portray in the photos.
An easy rule of thumb that Kadejah recommends to all of her clients is to start with the mom or sister outfit as your reference point. Female clothing allows for more color and style options for the rest of the family. Pull colors for the rest of the family that center around the reference outfit.
Outfit inspiration board by Deda Photography
Avoid stark, bold colors. Instead, go for hues and soft tones, the reason being that bold/bright colors or busy patterns can be distracting in a family shoot with multiple people. Also when it comes specifically to fall photo shoots, neutral, earthy tones are better for clothing because there is a lot of color going on with autumn leaves, explains Kadejah.
Sometimes photographers will offer a style guide to help you and your family plan out the perfect outfits, but you can also find many online. Check out these detailed guides by Kristen Fotta Photography on What to Wear, and Best Colors for Family Pictures Outside. Kadejah just wrapped up her fall mini sessions for the 2020 season and offered an Outfit Inspiration board as part of her style guide to help her clients choose complementary colors and garments specifically for a fall photoshoot.
Still not sure how to dress your family for your photo shoot? Here are five easy tips for choosing family photo outfits based on the Deda Photography style guide:
1. Compliment your outfits instead of matching. You want to highlight everyone’s unique style and let their own personality shine. You can achieve this by using one family member’s outfit as your color palette (mom, sister, daughter).
2. Consider your home decor and where you’d like to hang your photos when picking outfit colors. Your outfit colors should compliment the space where photos will be displayed.
3. Try your clothes on before the day of the photoshoot. Make sure everything fits comfortably and you feel fabulous! Make sure everyone’s clothes, and this includes little ones, are ironed.
4. If all else fails, or you’re just undecided, stick to solid neutrals and muted tones instead of bold colors.
5. Patterns are great in small doses. Avoid bold, large prints that can be distracting. Light layers are another great way to add variety to your outfit, like adding cardigans, shawls, scarves, etc.
Do’s & Don’ts
One of Kadejah's clients from their mini fall family photo shoot. Image source: Deda Photography
Let’s face it, taking photos, smiling for the camera and keeping the perfect pose is hard work especially for young kids. You never know what will happen on photoshoot day, but these helpful reminders from Kadejah may come in handy as you are preparing your family for taking photos.
1. Have snacks and schedule the photoshoot around nap times.
2. Don’t bribe the kids with something after the photoshoot; they will be fixated on that and will be less likely to cooperate.
3. Let the photographer take control of the photoshoot (this includes talking to and comforting little ones) unless they ask you to get involved.
4. Expect the kids to be uncooperative in the beginning. This is new, this is boring to them. Let the photographer know ahead of time what types of characters they like, what makes them happy, to help the photographer comfort your children and help them relax.
5. Be comfortable. Have a conversation with your photographer before photoshoot day to let them know what makes you and your family comfortable, (For example, are you ok with the photographer posting a few of your photos as part of their portfolio or on their social media?)
6. Be mindful of office hours. This includes sending late texts and DM’s.
7. Write a review, send a kind text or a thank you gift. Photography is a service based on human interaction. Building a good connection with your photographer can turn a stranger into a close friend who captures your family moments throughout their various stages of life. Invest in this relationship!
Questions to Ask Your Photographer
Here are some key questions to keep in mind before deciding to book with a photographer. It’s always a good idea to do your research and compare various photographers in your area. Every photographer comes with their own set of talents and personal taste. Peruse their social media accounts and website to get a feel of their photo editing and photography style before booking an appointment. Consider these parameters before booking your photographer:
1. Do they have experience with kids and/or babies?
2. What kind of photography do they specialize in?
3. What is their reschedule/cancelation policy?
4. Are they willing to travel?
5. What types of products and services are offered with the shoot? Retouching, re-editing, usb or online gallery, number of photos included with the shoot.
6. Some photographers will give you all of the photos with edits, “full digital files” for an extra charge. Don't be shy to ask if this is something you’re interested in.
7. If the photographer only offers a select number of photos, ask if you can choose which ones you’d like to have. This should be the case, but make sure.
Fall decor! Image source: Deda Photography
I hope this post was a helpful tool as you navigate your upcoming fall family photoshoot! Remember that your emotions will directly translate and reflect in your photos, and your memory of the session is intrinsically tied to the photos you look back on. Take a deep breath and enjoy the session with your family. Have fun with it and just be yourself!
If there’s one thing Kadejah advises for your future family photo shoot, it’s this, “Each and every family is beautiful even with all the quirks, imperfections and rough edges. Embrace who you are as a family, and let’s capture that! My goal as a photographer is to create a fun and memorable experience, playing and making memories with your kids, so that when you look back at your photos, you are filled with only the warmest of feelings and love for those you cherish most!”
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