Here is my (REAL, unfiltered) advice as both a mom and a photographer, for getting the most out of those few moments of time!! This advice is specific to me and how I work at a shoot...all photographers are different.
As a mom...getting everyone prepped for a photo session can be stressful. Right?? It's the choosing of outfits, and coordinating time, and making sure no one is hungry or tired, and and and and...the list can just go on and on. The bribing/ threatening/cajoling begins long before the day of the shoot.
Okay, maybe it is only that way with my family (but I doubt it)!
Photo sessions make people grouchy, there I said it!!!
The most important advice I can give you going into a photo session is to leave ALL of that behind. Nothing kills beautiful pictures faster than expectations and stress. It is not natural to sit or stand perfectly still in a crazy position close to your family with a smile plastered on your face, but we expect it. We growl under our breaths, we threaten, we poke and prod...I have seen it all....ugh, I have DONE it all trying to get the best picture possible of my family. Never in the history of ever did it make a difference, or make better pictures....it just made for more grouchiness.
I have (finally) learned how to control the momzilla that rears her ugly head only had photo taking time. (Mostly, kindof...I really try.)
Instead, I say to you...you beautiful family who loves each other. Show up at your photo session as you. Your family... whether crazy, quirky, super loving, awkward, tender, strange whatever it may be, just do you.
Your photographer will find those in between moments of wonderful that are specific to your family, if you choose to be relaxed and calm and OK with imperfection and truth.
We just had pictures taken, and this is probably my favorite shot of my kids. My kid to the left had just planted a massive kiss on his brothers cheek, and sister is over there just happy to be so close to her big lug of a brother who isn't a hugger. All of their personalities right there, for me to remember and enjoy.
As the person shooting, I allow a little silliness at my shoots because kids dig that and then are more cooperative when I ask for poses, allowing me to get that "shot for the Christmas card" as well as those shots that we love because they are just real.
I tell parents coming to a shoot that we only need one person in charge at the shoot, and it needs to be me. I am not a control freak, I just know that kids usually want to please and trying to figure out WHO to please and when can be mighty frustrating.
I let parents know to leave it to me, (unless your child is in danger or specifically breaking a family rule). I will ask them to move, shift, smile, kneel, change position, look up, look down....you get the idea. Parents, your focus at a shoot should just be to be photographable...at any moment. I work hard to get your kids doing the things they need to do, so you can just stand there looking good, ready for those camera snaps. It is hard to relinquish that control for a few minutes, but trust me here....it is worth it.
Mini Sessions are usually booked back to back to back, which means you have got to get in there, get er done and high tail it out. So being a few minutes early, and letting me be mindful of the time is paramount. When I plan minis, I PLAN them. That means I already have several shots in mind, and places to shoot them, all I have to do is fit your particular family into that plan.
I tend to think of each family like puzzle pieces! Each family is shaped differently and their pieces fit together uniquely so be patient with me as I twist and turn those pieces to find what is best for your finished product.
And the LIGHT....y'all the light is SO important. So if I get you all set up and the light is funky, forgive me and give me lots of grace as I move you about again. (Sorry to that pregnant momma who I did this to recently, ack)
I get lots of worries about what to wear. Here is my advice. Coordinate, but don't worry about matching! Choose a color scheme and stick to it. The patterns and texture can vary when the colors work together.
I like to go with 3 colors. Usually I tell mom to pick an outfit that she feels amazing in, and build the rest of the wardrobe around it....because if momma ain't happy.....you know!!
I tend to lay all the clothes out on the floor and take a picture of them to see if anything pops out as weird.
As is normal for me, I had everything planned out then changed it, then changed it again when my middle son wore this plaid shirt to church one Sunday. It reminded me of my green sweater and then the final plan fell into place. Also don't forget to accessorize! A jacket, scarf, statement necklace, or sweater can add layers of interest. ;)
You can always text me a shot of those choices, and I can offer advice.
Since time is so short, I do encourage you to practice a little posing. Just do it when the kids are at school.....or not, it could make for some fun memories. Get familiar with how you and your body shape looks its best. I like this little video for some great tips about that. Start at the 1 minute mark and watch through about 6:30 (Yes, I know she is super skinny...trust me, her advice is spot on!!)
One of my favorite things to hear when people are leaving a shoot is "That wasn't so bad!!!" I know I have conquered yet another photo session aversion for the time being!
I hope all of this helps! Looking forward to an amazing mini season with you all.