by Blaire Ring
Second Ave Photography
I've noticed that one thing most of my clients (and people who are bouncing around the idea of booking a session) have in common is that they have no idea how to make their session stress free, successful, and FUN! Yes, working with a photographer can (and SHOULD!) be an enjoyable experience that everyone involved leaves feeling good about. I've picked up a few tricks during my years as a photographer in Northern Virginia and today I'm going to share some of them with you!
Here are three of my best tips for ensuring a successful photo session:
Choose the Right Photographer
Simple enough, right? It isn't. We live in an area saturated with photographers. Here are some guidelines to narrow the selection:
A. Choose a photographer with a business license and insurance. Someone who has taken the time to legitimize their business (and pays taxes!) is invested in you as a client longterm.
B. Pick someone whose style of imagery resembles your own vision. Love photos that are bright and airy? Don't select someone whose work is mostly matte and moody. This is super important! No two photographers work is going to look exactly alike, and it's key that you find someone whose work makes you swoon exactly how it's shown on their website. I always recommend adding your photo session to your annual budget so when the time comes you can hire the photographer you truly adore.
C. Budgets matter, but are not the most important thing. There are a lot of reasons why each photographer charges what they do - level of experience, continuing education, what they reinvest back into you as their client. Family photos aren't just for you to enjoy now. They're for your kids and their kids to enjoy later - to know who you were together, the fun you shared, the tears, and the memories. For this reason, also remember the importance of investing in heirloom-quality prints from your photographer's preferred professional lab, even if digital files are included in your package. They are intended to last 150+ years and maintain accurate color, contrast, and clarity; digitals files may only last until the next iOS upgrade.
The Where and When
The truth is that just about any spot can be a gorgeous backdrop for your session if your photographer is creative enough, but you should also pick a location based on what will best complement your style. If you're more country and have mostly natural textures and colors in your home, you'll want to choose a woodsy backdrop. Likewise, if you have more modern décor you may prefer a more urban scene. Pay attention to the colors in your surroundings, too. While Fall tends to be the "busy season" all the warm reds and yellows might not look the best printed in your home. In our home, I have a gorgeous portrait of my girls carrying baskets of colorful flowers they'd just picked in the spring printed on canvas, something we could never get in October. Time of day is important as well. The same photo was taken in late morning; sunrise and sunset are often the preferred times for a photoshoot, and I get that, because the sun is setting and it's gorgeous and you can be out in the open without having to look for shade. But there is something to be said for shooting at other times of the day, too! Your photographer should be skilled enough to take advantage of any light and use it to its fullest advantage. Talk to your photographer about your options and vision and trust their recommendations.
Get everyone excited!
I am always so excited to meet a new family or reconnect with previous clients and I hope that comes across in my imagery. I don't think family portraits should be super posed or controlled; I believe wholeheartedly it's OK (good, even!) to let the kids run around and I hope this allows parents to enjoy the process more. By engaging kids and, if we're being honest, husbands, in a fun and playful way, you are more likely to have photos with authentic, natural smiles instead of gritted teeth. Let kids help pick out their outfit, or plan a special outfit or favorite hat or whatever princess dress they're currently obsessed with for after the shoot as a reward (and even more adorable photos!) And when in doubt, bribe! I love mini Altoids because they won't show up on clothes or skin and they dissolve quickly. Meltdowns during my sessions are pretty rare. Most of the positive feedback I receive is how easily I work with young kids. Maybe it's because I don't take myself too seriously, but I truly believe that children can tell when someone is being their authentic self, and I genuinely love working with
Helping you have a wonderful photography session is important to me. My grandpa was a photographer so my love and appreciation for the art of photography started young. I could spend hours at his house combing through old prints of people I would never know, listening to him tell their stories. It was only natural that I would grow to become a photographer myself. As a kid, I would send all of my allowance on 400-speed rolls of film and document everything from beach trips with my friends to after-school activities (this was way back in the 20th century!) I strive to share this passion with my clients by infusing fun into all of my portrait sessions, from newborns to children and families to breastfeeding portraits.
I hope you've found my top 3 tips for a successful photo session helpful! I am always accepting new clients and would love to hear from you to plan your next session.
Blaire Ring owns Second Ave Photography and is an internationally published photographer serving the entire Northern Virginia and Washington DC metro area. She specializes in newborns, children and families, and breastfeeding portraits; and volunteers her services for many local and national nonprofits. When she's not behind her camera, Blaire enjoys an active life as a stay at home mom to her two daughters, fosters kittens for