Hints and Tips for your Christmas Mini Session
So, your mini family Christmas photo session is fast approaching and you’re probably starting to think about pulling together outfits and mulling over what you can expect on the day. Well I’ve got all of those answers covered for you.
I have almost 15 years experience planning photoshoots for my customers and I am sharing that information with you so you can do everything to facilitate a perfect session experience!
Let’s start with the most commonly asked question. “What on earth should we wear?!”
What to Wear Guide
My What to Wear Guide has been specially designed to give you all of the guidance you’ll need to perfectly style the family outfits for your on location photo session. Just click the button below to view or download your guide.
I hope you found that helpful! You might also be interested to check out my Pinterest board which have loads of inspiration for you in regards to outfits and styling…
As you’ll be able to see from the Pinterest board, the best outfits for Christmas sessions tend to be strong colours, jumpers, scarves and even wooly hats! Don’t feel that you have to match, in fact contrasting colours and textures tend to work really well. It’s worth considering that it will effectively be ‘snowing’ in your photos so your clothing should reflect ‘cold’ weather.
Here’s my best advice!
I’ve been doing this a long time and my key priority is that you have a relaxing and enjoyable photo shoot experience. For me it’s almost as important as the images themselves. If you look back on the session with fondness then you’ll view your images the same way! It’s a win win.
I’ve put together these hints and tips based on my experience. Believe me I’ve seen it all. Kids are unpredictable at times and I am more than used to it as a mother and as a specialist family photographer. I’ve been told I have the patience of a saint but it mainly comes down to the fact that I love kids and I love my job. I’m also a big kid at heart!
I want to be honest with you so you know what to expect on the day. I know all of my photos look dreamy, angelic and perfect but it’s not always the case behind the scenes. As a mum myself I know that kids aren’t angels all the time so please don’t get stressed about how your children ‘perform’ on the day! I know how to engineer the perfection in the (sometimes) chaos. It’s taken years to master!
Hopefully these hints & tips will help you on the road to know what to expect and have a relaxing, stress free and enjoyable experience.
The weather in the UK is nothing but unpredictable but don’t let it worry you too much. You don’t need bright sunshine for beautiful pictures, in fact that’s often the worse light! Overcast weather produces beautiful saturated colours and is much easier to shoot in if you have kids that like to MOVE!
The only time I will re-schedule a session is if it is raining heavily or just too darn cold! There’s nothing worse than looking at your photos in the future and remembering how you couldn’t feel your toes or that you were drenched through!
I make weather calls 48 hours in advance if at all possible. In the case of inclement weather I will work with you to re-schedule to a date the following weekend.
what to bring
You don’t need to bring much with you but here is a list of things you might want to consider:
- A drink and a snack (see advice on treats below)
- Milk if you are bottle feeding
- Wet wipes or tissues are handy for runny noses
- A favourite toy – especially if it is photogenic and of sentimental value. If it’s not then leave it in the car or buried deep in your bag (see advice on treats below)
Unfortunately there won’t be time for outfit changes so don’t feel you need o bring loads with you.
treat or not to treat?
The great question! Do you bribe your kids or not? Well here’s my advice…
Some parents tell their children that they will have a special treat after the session if they are good. This is discussed before you arrive on your shoot. Typically it’s a trip to a restaurant, an ice-cream or perhaps some sweets for a treat. If you decide to do this (and it’s up to you) then don’t keep reminding them about it during the shoot. It’ll just wet their appetite and they’ll want it right then and there instead of having their photo taken!
Some parents also bring a treat with them such as a special snack. This is absolutely no problem but keep it hidden in your bag until you REALLY need it. It’s a last resort ONLY. Given too early will typically result in them wanting more and more and more!
no cheese please
In this selfie obsessed era, children as young as 2 can already have developed their selfie face! Seriously, I’ve seen a change in recent years!
There are two types of smiles – fake and real. It’s the real smiles I want. Those smiles that show in the eyes and the giggles that come from deep in the belly! I have my methods of encouraging real smiles – sometimes they involve gentle toilet humour but I’ll always check that with you first.
Please, please don’t be tempted to ask your children to smile for the camera and say cheese, even if they seem grumpy to you. I WILL get those smiles but it’s got to be authentic.
Trust and leave it to me. I’ve totally got this. This leads us on very nicely to…
posing vs. non-posing
What? Posing is what you might be used to or expecting from your photoshoot. The photographer carefully poses you and asks you to smile and look at the camera. Well, I won’t be asking you to do this (well maybe for one shot!).
Grown ups typically don’t know where to look, how to stand, what to do with their face or hands – it’s quite normal! Instead I prefer the art of un-posing. I’ll simply place you in the right light and then ask you to play games with your children, twirling, telling stories and jokes, tickling and playing games. I want to capture the authentic connection between you and your family; not just a likeness of your faces.
Oh, and I never want you to look at the camera! Look at your children, they’re much more fun!
I touched on this in my introduction. No kid is an angel 100% of the time. That’s just stupid talk. There is a chance your child/ren will not behave in the way you’d like during the session and that’s fine.
They key to what I do is building up trust and a relationship with the children I photograph. I’ll often start the session by just talking to them (I’m not ignoring you, I promise!) about stuff they like. I’m pretty good at judging children. Their attention spans are typically short and I respect that totally. Little and often usually works well. If you feel your child is misbehaving please don’t be tempted to reprimand them and tell them off. This will have a really negative effect and often lead to tears. If they have a total meltdown the you might need to step in but in the meantime leave it to me.
Please remember that the safety of your children is your responsibility at all times during the session.
I always pick my locations with safety in mind but there are always potential hazards to be aware of when shooting on location.
I will never take your child out of your direct site without asking you permission first. I will never put your child in a situation that would not be deemed safe. I will never shoot a child with animals (especially horses and dogs) that the child is not totally familiar with and with your permission.
Rest assured, I have full public liability insurance but I would much prefer not to be in a situation that that ever needs to be considered!
In addition to the above obviously we have to talk about COVID-19. I have put in place guidelines to ensure the safety of all of us during your session. You can read more here.
The location for my Christmas sessions is one of my favourite spots to shoot in. Having the studio on the farm has allowed me access to some of the most beautiful and private spots in the local area and this in no exception.
Not far from Cowbridge, tucked away on private land are a set of stunning lakes and this is where I’ll be based for the weekend of the 14th and 15th November. It really is tucked away so just follow my simple instructions to find the venue:
If you are heading from the direction of Cardiff, head west along the A48 towards Bridgend. You’ll pass over Cowbridge town on the dual carriageway and then hit a new small roundabout.
Take the second exit (straight over) and then take the next right by Taskforce Paintball heading towards the village of Penllyn. As you enter the village you will see the village hall on your left and a church on your right. Take the right hand turn opposite the hall, directly after the church.
Follow this road all the way down and you will hit a t-junction at the bottom of quite a steep hill. Take the sharp right here and follow the road down the hill.
You’ll see a house with a willow tree on the left and then, as the road bends to the right you will see a private road on the left. I’ll pop a sign on the gate so you know you’re in the right place.
Follow the road all of the way down but be careful. This road is very bumpy so take it slow. As you get to the end of the road you’ll see a right turn (I’ll pop some more signs up for you!) and a small lakeside cabin. Just park your car by the cabin and I’ll be there to meet you.
If you get stuck or lost then just give me a call on 07852 255766 and I’ll guide you in.
Please allow plenty of time to arrive for your appointment. I tend to have mini sessions back-to-back and although I have left a little time in between sessions, late arrivals might eat into your shoot time.
I’m really looking forward to meeting you!
I know that seems like a lot to take in! The most important thing to remember is to be yourself and don’t get stressed out with the thought of your kids not being their best. These photos are going to record your family as they really are – that authentic connection can’t be forced.
Rest assured I have lots of experience of creating beautiful images for my customers and I look forward to doing the same for you!