April 24, 2021

Client Guide: In-Home Lifestyle Sessions

Tips & Tricks

Planning an in-home session can be really stressful. You're letting a stranger into your home to take photos of your family. It can feel vulnerable, invasive, or just plain weird. This guide will help you feel prepared and in control of your session.

Choosing A Room

Don't panic about getting your house ready. Typically, we can do all the portraits we need in one room.

Things to consider when choosing a room:

  • free of clutter - With fewer distractions in the room, I can better capture clean, beautiful photos. I can help with this when I get there!
  • fairly open - This gives me space to move around for different angles, allows room for me to back up enough to capture a group shot, and gives me flexibility if we need to move seating around to work with the lighting.
  • windows - The more windows, and the bigger the windows, the better! ! I like to get right up next to a window whenever possible.
  • seating - This can be a couch, a bed, or even a big chair if you have a small family. We will take most of our photos in this spot!
  • light colored walls - Lighter walls and ceilings help reflect light around the room. That's how we can get that beautiful, perfect lighting you see in celebrity photos.

You don't have to have a Pinterest perfect house to make a beautiful session. The most important thing is light. I can bring lighting with me, but it won't give quite the same beautiful ambiance of window light, so we will do our best to put it to work!

If you want help, I can stop by your house and look around before the session, or you can send me photos.

Choosing Outfits

Choosing outfits can be one of the most stressful parts of a photo session. I offer my client closet at no cost to sessions. If you see something you like, just let me know! Here are some tips to help you plan:

Things to consider when choosing outfits:

  • light, neutral colors - As with windows and light, this is going to help make your skin tones look beautiful. Light reflects color, so I suggest avoiding saturated colors, especially red, since red tones reflected on skin aren't flattering. Always safe: cream, ivory, white, gray, tan, beige
  • limit your patterns - I suggest limiting to one pattern, if any. So if your kiddo wears stripes, put everyone else in solids. This helps keep everyone from clashing and puts the focus on the subjects!
  • comfortable - This is ESPECIALLY important if you just had a baby. You're exhausted! Dress in loose, comfortable clothing. If you're breastfeeding, I recommend something with easy access to nursing. I love capturing those moments for you!
  • confidence - What makes you feel good? If you're self conscious about your tummy, avoid anything tight fitting around the middle. If you don't like your arms, wear sleeves. More than anything, you will get beautiful photos when you feel comfortable, even if the outfit doesn't "follow the rules."

I'm happy to help. Send photos of what you're considering, and I'll give you my advice.

Choosing a date and time

Choosing a time of day can be completed and there are lots of factors involved in choosing what works for your family. As a photographer, my biggest concern is light. However, there are factors you should consider about what time of day is going to work for you, too!

Things to consider when choosing a time of day:

  • best time for good, diffused light at your house
  • Mid to late morning is usually best as the sun is bright but not as direct as it would be at sunrise.
  • I never recommend shooting when it's dark. This forces us to use artificial light and your photos simply won't be as good.
  • best time for your little ones
  • Consider your baby's napping and feeding schedule (if you have one - I know we never did! haha)
  • Consider your older kiddo's moods throughout the day
  • Mid to late morning is often best for kids because they're still well-rested.
  • best time for parents
  • When can a friend or grandparent come over to help with older kiddos?
  • When are you able to get a shower and get yourself ready without being overwhelmed?
  • When are you least stressed about a messy house? Is there a time of day when the house still looks mostly put together?

Oh crap. The photographer is going to be here in a few hours! What should I do?

Things you can do before the photographer gets there:

  • De-clutter what you can. Big toys, colorful items, etc.
  • Open up blinds/curtains to bring in that beautiful window light.
  • Turn off overhead lights.
  • Crank up the heat a little. This keeps newborns happier and sleepier.
  • Make sure older kiddos are well-rested and fed. If they know you're stressed, they're more likely to feel stressed and uncooperative.
  • If you want to get bottle or breast-feeding shots, you can try to time it so baby can eat as soon as the photographer gets there. This also helps them stay sleepy and relaxed for the rest of the session. Not going to work? Don't withhold food from baby! If you end up feeding a baby a little early, shoot me a message I will try to get there sooner and get some feeding shots if I can. As often as newborns eat, I can sometimes wait until baby is hungry again!
  • Have activities or snacks ready for older kids to keep them entertained when they aren't in photos. It can also help if you have a family member who can come over and play with them after they're in the photos. It can be really stressful for parents when older kids are fussy or misbehaving as we try to get photos of the baby, and we don't want you to feel stressed! If you're alone, a movie and a favorite snack in another room is perfect.

I'm exhausted. My house is a mess. Should I just cancel?

No, no, no! You have a newborn. Your house isn't going to be spotless. Do what you can, and I'll help with the rest. When both of my daughters were new babies, I was just proud to have showered. I am not there to judge. Some moms like information on how to prepare, so I provide it. But do you HAVE to do this stuff before I get there? Absolutely not. If we need to move furniture to a nice window, I'll help. If we need to tidy up, I'll help. If you need someone to hold the baby while you put on makeup, I'll help. At many homes, I'll find a room with great light and seating, and we will shoot in that one small area of the house and that's it. In those cases, the messy home won't be seen. We'll just tidy up that one spot! It truly takes a village, and I'm honored to be a part of yours - judgement free.

And at the end of the day, it's okay to have a little mess. The photos that show a little clutter or junk may not be your new profile photos, but one day, they will be the most accurate memories of those early days and weeks when things are such a blur. And when. you look back on those memories, you won't look at the mess with the judgement or shame you do now. You will just see it as a wonderful and busy season of your life where you had more important things to do than have a Pinterest perfect home.