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Now for the fun part

Yay! You've made the decision to book and I'm so glad you did. Making photos for families is a JOY for me and I'm honored you've selected to work with me. I'll be guiding you each step of the way.

 

I've put this prep guide together based on the 11 years experience I have working with families and I'm always fine tuning it. It contains everything you need to know to make the most of your session and help me create the photos you're dreaming of for your family. It also answers most of my clients' questions about what happens next: planning to make the most of your session, what to know for the day of your session, after your session, etc. If you have a question that isn't covered in this guide, please email me. I'm happy to answer anything. I promise, NOTHING will surprise me and there likely won't be a scenario that I haven't come across already.

 

Let's get into it...

There are three things that will make your final images what you want. I call it "setting the scene"

  1. Outfits
  2. location
    1. newborn sessions are done in your home and possibly outside on your property.
    2. family and maternity sessions can be done in your home or at a public space
  3. skilled photographer that creates the style of photo art that you love (you've hired me because you know what i'll deliver)
    1. this involves coaching you on posing, and a fine tuned practice of using my camera in a way to create art

 

Setting the scene

Outfit Planning1Step

Most families put a lot of planning into their outfits for their session. Photography is an investment and the outfits you select play a very big role in the final look of your photos. I remember reading somewhere that 10% of the price of a home should be spent on landscaping. Meaning, don't neglect a part of the house that impacts the overall look of the home. The same concept is roughly true of wardrobe prep. Putting great planning into the coordination of your outfits is never energy wasted. After all, we are creating art and your clothing is the paint color that we load onto our brush. Here are my best suggestions for putting your outfits together broken down by session type, though many of the tips are universal:

 

Newborns and Maternity

  • start with the end in mind: where will you hang your photos? Most likely on the walls of your home. If you have a certain color with which you love to decorate, be sure to select clothing that will compliment that.
  • I always love mama in a long dress. you cannot go wrong with this option. since newborn sessions are so soon after delivery, plan on your size not being much different than before baby arrived, meaning, you won't want to choose an outfit that accentuates your middle section. high waisted dresses with a gathered skirt are a classic choice that flatter everyone during this stage. Also, many women who have worn sleeveless tops have later wished they hadn't because undergarments tend to show more easily.
  • choose a neutral swaddle blanket for your newborn. we will use it some during your session. for baby girls, please avoid large headbands as they will detract from her petite face. small, delicate bows photograph well without being overpowering.

family

  • dads: men have it much easier. haha. with your color palette in mind, keeping dad in neutrals is always a safe option. khaki pants (in any shade), with a dress shirt or other nice shirt is a great option. try to match the formality of mom's outfit. if mom is in a dressier outfit, dad should "match" that. gingham check is a great option, as is a small striped oxford shirt. i always love a sports jacket as it can dress dad up if needed.
  • if planning for siblings to be included in these sessions, always start with mom's dress and build the color palette from there (with the end in mind).
  • stay away from bold patterns like large print plaid, neon florals, etc. they will detract from the beauty of your family and we want to focus on the connections between your family without distractions.
  • make sure fingernails are freshly polished, or bare.
  • don't forget the hair and makeup. we will be taking some close photos. if your hair needs a root touch up, go ahead and schedule that so it's freshly done before your photos.
  • spanx type shorts are always great under a dress. my favorites are HERE.

There are some great examples below and you can see a lot more inspiration on my Pinterest board. I also post a monthly style inspiration board on the blog.

Maternity portrait of couple outdoors
Family Photography Style Board Inspiration
Selecting your Location2Step

My photography style focuses most on the connection between family members and relies less heavily on the location where we shoot, but having a beautiful space to create your photos is a part of the overall final result so it is an important factor. I’m including some photos here of locations around Tallahassee that are “can’t go wrong” spaces that will always work well. I am open to your ideas or desired location as well. I love finding new spaces. Below is a thorough breakdown of these locations and things to consider when selecting them. If you haven't already let me know where you'd like to do your session, this list will help. Once you've taken a look at it, email to let me know where you'd like to create your photos.

 

DOROTHY B. OVEN PARK

  • Location: Thomasville Road just south of I-10
  • entry fee: free
  • notable:
    • blooms in spring but photographs well all year round
    • photographs best in the mornings
    • this is one of my favorite locations in town
    • from november through the end of december, there are christmas lights on display throughout the park. this is a lot of fun for kids to visit at night (they host an “elf night” each december), but is restrictive for photographs.
  • best session types:
    a great location for baby sessions, maternity, and families with small children because there are a lot of vignettes within a small walking area.

 

MACLAY GARDENS STATE PARK

MACLAY GARDENS STATE PARK

  • location: northeast tallahassee, maclay road just north of i-10
  • entry fee: $6 per vehicle + $6/$3 (adults/children) gardens entry during blooming months (january-april) + $20 photography fee (this is a new charge for using their park for professional photography). see entry fee information here.
  • notable:
    • the gardens are in bloom from january through april.
    • this location is beautiful in the fall as well but is a much “warmer” backdrop with richer colors (see photos).
    • photographs well during all times of day at varying locations.
    • a classic southern garden vibe. this is the location with the iconic brick walkway and moss covered trees. the bricks can be challenging to walk on if you're wearing heels. plan to bring a pair of sandals to wear for walking the brick
    • if you want to photograph all that this beautiful park has to offer, just know that we’ll be walking a bit to get to those spots. it’s definitely worth the walk if your family is up for it, though it can be a lot for small children, or when carrying a baby.
    • every october they hold a scarecrow contest along the brick walkway. It's a lot of fun to see, but a definite challenge to photograph families along the walkway.
  • best session types: maclay is a great location for all session types. i avoid this location in summer and early fall when the weather is hot and humid because you will get hot walking. i only suggest maternity sessions here if mom is early enough along that she can walk a good bit without feeling sore or hot.

 

ALFORD PARK GREENWAY

18 month baby plan session
  • location: east tallahassee, bucklake area at the end of pedrick road
  • entry fee: free
  • notable:
    • greenway field, tall grasses, treetop walking bridge about one mile down a walking trail.
    • photographs beautifully in the fall and winter. fall colors in general are richer and warmer.
    • wonderful for both early morning and late afternoon and evening sessions. The photos above were made in the morning. the light changes drastically here throughout the day.
    • i would say this location changes the most throughout the year because of the green grasses. in the fall and winter it has much less green and more yellow tones as seen in the two collages above.
  • best session types: families, graduation, maternity, baby. i don’t suggest the treetop bridge hike for baby sessions or young families because of the risk of distraction and dirt along the walkway.

 

GOODWOOD MUSEUM AND GARDENS

  • location: midtown Tallahassee on miccosukee road near tallahassee memorial hospital
  • entry fee: covered by me with my annual photography pass.
  • notable:
    • I consider this a crown jewel of tallahassee
    • goodwood is beautiful and photographs well all year round.
    • a great combination of white building structures, green spaces, moss covered oak trees, and “old florida.” this location sums up tallahassee.
  • best session types: great location for baby sessions, families with small children, and maternity because there are a lot of vignettes within a small walking area. you cannot go wrong with this location. (can you tell it’s a favorite of mine).

 

CHAIN OF PARKS

  • location: downtown tallahassee on park avenue
  • entry fee: parking meters along the street during certain hours. plan to have $1 in quarters to feed the meter
  • notable:
    • small space, beautiful oak trees overhang the brick walkway.
    • this location also gives us access to downtown tallahassee for a city vibe.
    • because it is downtown, there is traffic and people in the surrounding areas that cannot always be avoided.
  • best session types: great for quick sessions, baby plans, headshots, and maternity. if you have a toddler or young child who is a “runner,” I would not suggest this would not be a great location for you.
  • the chain of parks art festival happens once a year in the spring and can be a fun outing.
  • some segments (chain) of this park host a farmers market on Saturday mornings from 9am-2pm, March through November.

 

RAILROAD SQUARE ART PARK

  • location: off gaines street, near fsu and famu
  • entry fee: free
  • notable:
    • railroad square is my old high school stomping grounds. this location has the new urban artsy vibe that people love if they want an in town, city, colorful location.
    • there are fewer people and cars here during the morning time, so i advise sessions take place at this location then.
  • best session types: great for all session types. it can be a lot of fun.

 

TALLAHASSEE NURSERIES

TALLAHASSEE NURSERIES

  • location: midtown tallahassee, on thomasville road
  • entry fee: free though i advise adopting a beautiful plant to bring home. founded in 1938, tallahassee nurseries is a longstanding tallahassee business and they are gracious in allowing me to photograph there.
  • notable:
    • plants galore! i love it! tallahassee nurseries is a new favorite of mine.
    • greenhouse, pots, small pond, benches and greenery abound.
    • because it is a private business, we will need to yield to their shopping clients and be courteous to work around them. i haven’t ever had a problem doing so, as we will move quickly in each location on their property so as to not linger in one area too long.
    • if you have an active, curious toddler, i would not advise this location as they have merchandise outside that we will be working near.
  • best session types: great for family sessions, couples, maternity, standing babies (9 or 12 month baby plan sessions).
During your session3Step

Now that we have "set the scene," it's time for the show.

 

The day of the session, please block off 2-2.5 hours. Typically we're finished within 60-90 minutes, but I don't charge by the hour, so if there's a wardrobe malfunction or child meltdown, we have flexibility. If a parent has to leave for an important business meeting but the rest of the family is still available, just let me know ahead of time so I can focus on getting that parent in the frame more while they're still available.

 

Most clients tell me that their session was fun! I'm going to help you with posing and getting your little ones to smile. Your job is to relax and go with the flow! My sessions are about capturing your family interacting with each other naturally with my gentle coaching on setting the scene to make great images. All you have to do is follow my instruction, play with your baby or kids and spouse, focus on them so I can focus on you!

 

Newborn Sessions

  • first thing I'll do when I arrive to your house is take off my shoes and wash my hands, then I look for the light...
  • We will plan to photograph you and baby in the nursery and usually one other room in your house (typically the master bedroom or living room). We're looking for good window light. I'll take a look and see where you have the best light
  • as a mom of 4, I remember the weeks following each of my births, the last thing I wanted to do was keep a clean house. Please don't feel as though you need to tidy up for me. Having just the nursery and one other space cleared is all we need. If things need to be re-arranged or moved aside we can easily do this.
  • If you plan to have siblings photographed, I ask that when they are not a part of the photos to have them out of the room. if a grandparent is able to come over during the session to help play with a big sibling, that is usually a great help to tired parents.
  • plan to do your normal routine with baby in the morning of your session. the only difference, is that you'll want to try to keep baby awake before I arrive so that they will be ready to eat and then sleep once i get there.
  • for baby: typically keep baby undressed and wrapped in a swaddle blanket (not a zip up kind) for the start of our session. very few babies like to be unswaddled as newborns get cold very easily. pro tip: you can tell because their skin will look red and veiny.
  • i schedule up to 90 min for a newborn session. this gives us plenty of time for feeding and soothing if baby is fussy. i love it when the baby is awake for part of our session so no worries about baby sleeping the whole time.

 

Maternity and Family Sessions

  • plan to arrive a few minutes before your session begins to do any last minute dressing, or straightening of hair/clothes.
  • We'll move quickly. Once I'm sure we've gotten the shots we want, then we'll move on. I love to provide a lot of variety in your final gallery of images

 

A BIG NOTE:

Please don't worry if your young children are not on their best behavior. Keeping things light and playful is the best way to turn that around. In 11 years of business I've never seen threats of discipline turn an upset child into one that gives us the genuine happiness that you'll want for your photos. Instead, I suggest bringing some snacks (that won't stain) to use throughout the session to encourage good behavior. Remember, you've already booked your session during the time of day that your children are usually at their best, so we've set the stage for their success, however; we all have our days. If we're patient, they will usually warm up and things will turn around. I have 4 children of my own. I PROMISE that your children won't do anything to surprise me. Also, I have a lot of tricks up my sleeve.

Picking your collection4Step

Two to three weeks after your session, you'll receive an email from me letting you know that your photos are ready. You'll see a slideshow of your beautiful images set to music. That slideshow is available for 24 hours for you to watch as much as you'd like and to select which collection you'd like to purchase.

 

Each collection comes with digital files and a print credit. This print credit is like a gift card that you can then use to purchase any print products in your gallery store. You'll have a full month to select the specific digital files and print items you want to use to fill that collection.

 

NOTE: If you booked your session with me prior to September 30 (even if your session doesn't take place until after that date), and would like to opt to purchase only the full digital gallery at the price in your quote, I'll send you a separate invoice once you've seen your slideshow. If you'd like to take advantage of the collections below, you may do so. During this time of transition, I'm include an additional $100 print credit if you opt to purchase a collection below.

$550your choice of 10 high-resolution digital files with print release

$100 print credit
toward your choice of anything in the store: prints, frames, albums, digital files, etc.
collection A03.
$700your choice of 20 high-resolution digital files with print release

$300 print credit
toward your choice of anything in the store: prints, frames, albums, digital files, etc.
collection B03.
$850the complete set of all high-resolution digital files with print release

$600 print credit
toward your choice of anything in the store: prints, frames, albums, digital files, etc.
collection C03.

Products

The products in the store have been carefully selected. All are archival printed on Fuji or Hahnemühle professional stock papers. Below are some of our favorites.

Professional Lab Prints

Your favorite images are professionally printed on archival quality photo paper with your choice of a fine art or deep matte finish. These full bleed prints (no white border) are available in a variety of sizes, and are perfect for framing and hanging on the wall or giving as a special gift.

 

size / matte / fine art

4x6 / $25 / $40
5x7 / $35 / $60
8x10 / $50 / $120
11x14 / $80 / $225

Deckeled Edge Prints

Hand-torn prints that are truly unique with a rich and textured finish. Each print is carefully torn to reveal a soft feathered edge that adds a beautiful softness to each image. These archival prints are 100% cotton and acid-free. Perfect for mounting in a matted frame.

 

5x7 / $80
8x10 / $140
11x14 / $240

Lay Flat Albums

These premium albums are printed on high-end matte photo paper with thick, lay flat pages. Layout and design options are limited only by your imagination, and can be further customized with your choice of linen or leather covers and custom foiled letters. 10 spreads (20 pages) are included in the price below. Additional spreads (1 spread = 2 pages) can be added for $25 each.

8x8" / $450
10x10" / $675

Bundle of one main 12x12" & two duplicate 10x10" / $1600 (a great gift for grandparents. holiday gifts... done.)

Framed Prints

Made for living room and nursery walls. These frames are stunning and a simple, elegant way to display your beautiful images to enjoy for a lifetime. Custom made frames and 8-ply archival matte carefully hold your photos printed on fine art Hahnemühle Photo Rag paper. Finished with paper backing, sawtooth hangers, and felt bumpers. Ready to install from the moment you receive it.

 

8x10” (external measurement) / $130
11x14" (external measurement) / $180
12x18" (external measurement) / $225
20x24" (external measurement) / $275