CAPTURING THE AUTHENTIC YOU
The best photos are the ones that capture a genuinely authentic moment; a nuzzle on his shoulder in between shots, a kiss on the forehead after a first look, a little one running toward the camera in a fit of laughter. While it's nice to have the shot where everyone is smiling and beaming at the camera, it's those natural moments that I, as a photographer, strive for, because I know that those are the shots that will recall the memories of that day the best and represent you and that stage of life in the purest way.
CHAT BEFORE YOUR SHOOT
There are 2 conversations that should be had before your photo session. First, chat with your photographer. The more comfortable you are with your photographer, the easier your shoot will be. Schedule a time to sit down for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine to express what you want from your shoot. Ask your photographer questions, share about yourself, connect on a level that makes you feel that much more comfortable come shoot day.
Second, chat with your loved ones that will be doing the shoot with you. If it's your family, talk to your children about what to expect, how they don't need to act any differently than they normally do, ask what they're most excited for, what they're most nervous about, what you all will do together after the shoot to celebrate. If it's your partner, enjoy a glass of wine and talk about your favorite memories together, tell each other what you're most attracted to about one another, share your goals about what you hope is to come within the next year.
Having these conversations sets the tone for your photoshoot and breaks down the barriers of potential awkwardness and the "unknown". Once these hurdles are cleared, the authentic moments can more easily flow, and your photographer can capture moments so genuinely you that you'll want to cherish them forever.
DO WHAT'S NATURAL TO YOU
The above photos from The Mattera Family are some of my favorites. What made these photos so special is that their son had just started walking, so we just let him toddle around and we followed him capturing moments along the way.
My biggest advice: Just. Do. You. Don't worry about stopping, posing and looking at the camera for every shot. Let your kids walk around, follow and interact with them. If you're taking photos with your partner, talk to each other and tell each other loving things or jokes to make them smile or laugh. Do what is natural to you and trust your photographer to get the shot. In fact, the Mattera family messaged me right after our shoot saying, "I'm so worried we didn't get any good shots since our son was constantly on the move." As you can see, we got many amazing shots, and I would argue it was because their son was on the move! They did a great job interacting with him so that I could get some authentic moments captured.
SHOOT IN A COMFORTABLE PLACE
Sasha's on Shaw in St. Louis is a special place for Lia and Dale. It has meaning to the two of them. So, for their engagement shoot they grabbed a glass of wine and we relaxed in a comfortable and familiar place to capture these special images.
Being in a familiar place that represents something special automatically creates a relaxing environment that allows you to fully be yourself, and allows the photographer the opportunity to capture you. Lia and Dale enjoyed canoodling together and reminiscing on why Sasha's is such a special place to them, and I enjoyed snapping the moments in between.
An added bonus about your special place being a cafe or bar: drink props! This always helps address the "I don't know what to do with my hands" quandary, and gives you something yummy to sip on during the shoot.
BRING THE PETS
Our pets are part of our family and are often a source of comfort. I love when families ask if they can include their dog. It's an added, but fun, challenge! Interacting with your dog is a guaranteed way to get natural and authentic shots - you just never know what the dog is going to do or when the dog is going to decide to lick your face creating instant genuine laughter!
If you're uncomfortable, or trying to test out the latest fashion trend for the first time by wearing it to your shoot, your photos will not reflect your authenticity. Wear something you feel you in. Something you feel represents who you are and not who someone else is. This is also not the time to test out brand new shoes (ouch!) or make your child wear tights if they cry every time they wear them.
Plan your outfit in advance so that you're not scrambling last minute getting stressed over what to wear. Talk to your partner to coordinate outfits, let your children help pick out what they want to wear, check the weather and make sure you're dressing appropriately.