When I wanted to get photos of our first baby, then our second and then, our first family photos, I started looking for a photographer whose work was less posed and more photojournalistic. We wanted pics that captured moments and natural expressions – we wanted photos that told our family story and didn’t come with a fabric backdrop.
I think my checking account screamed in terror, and my husband groaned with fear, when I checked out the prices of photo sessions with photographers I fancied. But still I persisted and found a way to cut costs, find a perfect photographer for us, and maximize the money we spent on child and family photography.
Lifestyle Photography For Less
Lifestyle photography, as the photojournalistic style is dubbed, is often shot outdoors (cityscape or landscape) and can be incredibly pricy. Prepare for the same sticker shock you had when you were planning your wedding.
Pick a Milestone to Capture
If you, like us, you are one of the poor, unfortunate souls who prefers this style, prepare to part with at least $500 for a photo session. Some moms I know will purchase a cheap photo package at JC Penney photo studio for their baby’s first year to ensure that all those wonderful changes are captured and then ante up for the lifestyle photography at a certain milestone (e.g. newborn, age 2, age 5, first family portrait, etc.). Some photographers also offer milestone packages that typically include maternity photos, a newborn photo shoot and another photo shoot at one-year-old.
Try a “Mini” Family Photo Shoot
Another money-saving strategy is to sign up for a “mini-session.” These are 20-30 minute photography sessions that many lifestyle photographers offer in the spring, summer and fall on a select day. They shoot clients back-to-back usually on a Saturday, charge a smaller sitting fee, and some will sell you the pictures on CD. Note that photographers may have a minimum order amount that you’ll be required to purchase as a part of your photo session. You’ll want to find out what it is before booking your session.
Purchase the Photos on CD
If you purchase the CD, you can then print your pictures through an online service like Shutterfly which can be much cheaper than purchasing photos individually through the photographer, especially if you wanted to purchase several pictures. Also, if you have the images on CD you can use them for greeting cards, post them to Facebook, etc. Not all photographers will sell the images on CD, so if this is something you want, it’s best to make sure beforehand that you know it is an option.
Find a Family Photographer
To find a photographer who will fit your style and budget, scour the Internet and ask for referrals from family and friends whose hallway pictures you love. When Googling, search for “child lifestyle photographer” plus the name of the state you live in or the metro area your location is associated with (e.g. I live in a suburb 30 minutes from Detroit so I would first search using the term Michigan and then try another search using the term Detroit).
Maximizing Your Family Photo Shoot
To make sure that you get the best baby pictures of family photos, a little preparation helps. Make sure, as much as your able, that your baby, kids, husband and you are well-rested. Try to schedule your photo shoot long before a nap is needed or after one has been taken.
Along the same lines, make sure everyone is well fed before you go on the photo shoot. If you must feed your child a snack during the photo shoot, photographer Karen Lippowiths (urbankidsphotography.com) recommends bringing a dry snack that isn’t messy such as gummy bears. But, avoid crackers, chocolate, etc.
Karen also advises, “Bring along anything that makes your child smile to use during the shoot such as hats, umbrellas, fresh flowers, a favorite blankie or stuffed animal, a vintage wagon or tricycle, classic wooden toys, or balloons.”
Lastly, don’t invite additional family members or friends to tag along. They can distract those great big peepers from looking at the photographer. “I just can’t compete with grandma,” says Karen.
Coordinating Outfits for Family Photo Shoot
Once you nail down a photographer and swallow the cost, you’ll start sweating over what everyone will wear in the family photo. You don’t want everyone to match, but you also don’t want a carnival of colors. Relax, there are style gurus who can help.
Photographer Kristen Honeycutt has great tips on what to wear to a photo shoot and provides the awesome examples above and below showing how to coordinate outfits for the entire family.
And, here’s a Pinterest board that has a bunch of examples of coordinating outfits for family photos.
Last, but not least, Karen (www.urbankidsphotography.com) gives us her top styling secrets:
Bright colors and mix and match patterns are fabulous. Color and contrast makes images really “pop.”
Avoid large logos or graphics that draw attention away from the child’s face.
Avoid very light pastels or solid white (especially for fair-haired or light-skinned children) as these colors wash out.
Avoid putting very young girls in skirts or dresses if they are wearing diapers (or be sure to wear a diaper cover) as it is nearly impossible to avoid the “diaper shot” when they sit and move around.
Hats and hoods are great!
Consider bringing outer wear, winter wear, and rain gear even on a warm, dry day.