How To Prepare for your Family Session

My primary goal is to capture you and your family authentically! Documenting real reactions between family members. Most importantly I want you to relax and enjoy these moments with the the family! Lifestyle sessions are all about telling an honest story of your family. To help you prepare for your session, I created a guide to ensure things will go smoothly.

Location & Time

Most sessions will take place within the Orange County area. I love to shoot in a variety of settings and have a couple of favorite spots picked out. If you happen to have a spot for your session in mind (maybe it's special to your family, or you just love the way it looks) I want to know! I will do my best to accommodate. I love going to new places and experiencing new things. I find myself loving the recommendations of my client's preferred location. It will add that special element to your session which will make it more unique.

Sessions usually takes 45 min to 1 hours depending on the size of the group and the ages of the children. Extended family can range from 1 hour to 1 and 30 mins.


Before Session!

The week before your session, start bringing me up in conversation. You can refer to me as Jen, or even just the photographer lady. Tell your kids about the fun adventure we'll be having. I am totally not above bribery. A fun ice cream date after our session is always a big hit, or even a promise of going to the playground can incentivize kids to cooperate. Just make sure you let the kids know we're going to have fun! If they get worried about behaving perfectly then it will show in the images. I love taking time to connect with your kids to get those fun images of them.

Make sure everyone who needs a haircut, gets a one, at least a week before the session in order to have a more natural look. Relax! Pamper yourself. Get your hair or nails done (if that's your thing). Don't stress and remember to just have fun with your family. This is the time to be your true self with your beautiful family, enjoy it.

Having realistic expectations of what your kids’ cooperation level may be at their particular age will lessen the stress of trying to get the perfect photo. It will be nice to look back and see the kids’ personalities shine through in the photos.

For My "Extended Families"

My approach to the shoot as a whole is to keep ticking off those “priority” shots, while looking for those in-between moments. For time efficiency, I would love it if you came up with a priority list. Here is a sample shot list for extended families: 1. Group shot 2. Grandparents and grandkids. 3. Siblings 4. Grandkids 5. Individual of Kara’s family 6. Individual of John’s family 7. Individual of Tim’s family 8. Grandma with granddaughters 9. Grandpa with grandsons 10. Individual of grandkids 10. Parents with kids individually. I sent a questionnaire to help you narrow your decision. Have the final "Priority list" ready at the photo session once each family group have reviewed it. All the Priority list will be traditionally posed. We will start with The Group shots first, followed by the kids, then individual family. Each individual family will get a couple of their own and we will discuss before shooting, what kind of images you would want personally.

Session Day

The day of your session is here! We've picked out the perfect time and location, and your wardrobe is ready to go. You've spent weeks preparing, and it's finally time. I'm getting just as excited as you are.

Things to remember:

If you have young children, pets or even a reluctant spouse, arriving early and going to the bathroom will give everyone a chance to get comfortable. The process of an extended family session is a little different than the typical family portrait session since there are more groupings and arranging everyone requires a bit more time.

Want to look flattering, “if it’s bendable, bend it!” A bent arm, an arched back, and a tilted neck all help ensure your photo captures you at a flattering angle. Hold your arms slightly away from your body, with a soft bend in your elbows. This creates space, making your arms and waistline appear thinner and more hourglass shaped. Bend the knee closest to the camera, putting your weight on the back leg and pushing your hip away. It’s also helpful to think about pulling your chin out a bit as it helps define your neck and jawline. If your sitting down for the photo, make sure that the soles of your shoes aren’t facing the camera. Lastly, stand extra close and lean into your family members. It might feel a little awkward, but I promise, it makes for a more natural-looking picture.

Have fun! This is so important that you and your kids enjoy this experience because it will show up in your photos if someone just isn't having it. Relax and love on your family.

This time is about you and what makes your family special. We'll spend the first little bit getting to know each other. We'll knock out the "Christmas Card" photos (ones where everyone is looking and smiling), and then set off.

Moments over poses: after we get the poses out of the way, you don't have to look at the camera anymore. You totally can if you want, but it's not required.

Be sure that you’re always touching someone. Whether it's a hug or snuggle, or just a tender hand on the shoulder. Some kind of contact with your family even if it’s looking at them in the eyes. This shows connections and love.

Don't stress, if your kids are nervous or acting a little wild, that's totally ok! Remember I have 6 kids, and I expect them to be kids. I embrace children in every aspect of themselves. We're focusing on moments, so a shy kiddo can get extra snuggles and a wildling can have extra run time. It's all about your family in this season! Remember that.

I operate at the pace of the child. Meltdowns are ok and they are normal. Don't worry if a child begins to cry, embrace him or her as she calms down in your arms and I will document this moment.

Bring snacks, water, jackets/cardigans (if it's cold), more water and snacks, and extra change of clothes in case someone gets too messy for the car ride home. (especially for a beach session.)

Last but not least, bring a blanket to lay on, if anything I always bring a white sheet with me, but a meaningful quilt or a nice sold or pattern blanket would be better.

Have fun and don't stress!