Article & photos courtesy of Day-Z Photography
So you’ve been invited into the home of your client, what do you do to ensure you get the perfect shots?
Here are some tips on a successful in home session and retaining the family quality that everyone loves.
Understand your equipment and shooting in manual!
It’s so very important to provide your clients with the highest quality images and shooting manual is the way to become the best at what you do and even help you with future clients & sales.
Creating a look of more than just a point-and-shoot camera is your goal!
Understanding your equipment is necessary when shooting in someone else’s home because lighting conditions will vary.
Each house brings in a different amount of ambient light and this will be a challenge if you are not familiar with your shutter speed, ISO and aperture.
Being a nerd with your camera will give you the ability to handle all changes easily without mishaps. (Read here to learn more about how to shoot manual) .
A few days before the session check with mom or dad to see how their children are feeling.
Sick kids do not want to have a camera shoved in their faces. Give them the ability to move their day if possible and remember life happens and babies get the sniffles. Your clients will be happy to know that the outcome of their session is what matters most to you!
Know your clients name’s BEFORE you go to their home!
When you are shooting a family it is inevitable that you will need to ask “little joey” to give daddy a big hug – oh wait – that’s not “little joey”, its “little johnny”!!! Eeeekkkk – nothing more embarrassing!
Prior to your shoot send your family a questionnaire that will ask for the names of each person being photographed and their age. Why their age? So you can associate the age of the child with their name PRIOR to showing up at their home.
This will ensure you are not mis-matching the names and confusing everyone when you are trying to set up a shoot. Remember – being professional is important, being personable is what gets you another job!
Take a few moments before the session to become your little clients new friend!
Children are going to make or break a photo session. Spending a few minutes getting to know them without your camera over your face is going to be the key to your success. This is when you ask to be shown their favorite toy or their play room.
Get down on the floor and actually listen to what your new friend loves most about her tea set! She will adore you for the rest of the night. . .
Let your family know that the best photos will be of you photographing them, being THEM!
You are in their home, the comfort level is already better than had you met them in an unfamiliar place. Now make sure you photograph the real “Smith Family”.
Have mom and dad cuddle their little ones on the couch like they would any evening. The best shot is of you peeking into their world. Photograph from around a corner, or on the floor with the little ones, photograph mom laying on her bed with her baby nuzzled in her neck, photograph dad kissing mom up against a kitchen cabinet like he does after work every day – make it special by showing them what their world looks like when no one is “looking”. You will direct scenarios but will ask that they let things happen naturally. Ask them to play, cuddle and be free to smile & chat during the session.
Get down to their level!
Photograph children how they see life. Standing is not always the best position for a photographer when trying to capture images that tell a story.
Capture a child’s favorite toys or blanket.
These items will forever be a part of this families life. Getting a close-up for them to remember forever is a special gift. This is great to add into a collage as well.
Play music that is fun to the family.
This will create great movement and beautiful happy faces. This only needs to be a short activity but this way the kids see your involvement as something enjoyable. Of course make sure you chat with mom and dad prior to the session and find out if this is something they think the kids would enjoy. .
Feel comfortable and your clients will too!
It can be stressful for parents when a child is not cooperating which then can lead to more cranky children. Let parents know that its okay if their little one doesn’t want to be photographed that moment and move on to a different group of images such as mom & dad time. You will surely get the attention of a non-participating child if they see others are having fun doing something.
Ask mom and dad to lean into each other and giggle and kiss, this will make their little one want to grab mommy’s leg and snuggle too (the perfect family shot!). Let parents know you are there to make happy memories, so if something isn’t working try again later.
Back-up your images!
Wait this is an important tip no matter what kind of photo session it is! Do it, you won’t regret that you have TOO many copies of a session. Back-up your computer, back up your external hard drive, back up everything! Be the photographer that can save the day if your client comes back a few years later saying they lost all their images in a flood! Let it be important that their memories are preserved by you!