How to Win at Family Photos (The Chavez Family)

I love it when my clients ask for my input on their wardrobe, location, themes, etc. It means they care enough about their session to ask for advice and make it the best it can be! It is always fun to see what clients do with my advice to make the session their own.

I've had the pleasure of photographing the Chavez family ever since their daughter, Fiona, was still tucked away in mom's belly. Going through their latest photo session, I realized they illustrate so perfectly the advice I often give to clients! So here are a few tips on how to rock your family session!

1) Match but don't MATCH

What I mean is, you shouldn't all be wearing the same kind of plaid. Or all white t-shirts with blue jeans. Or all the same color. But elements of your outfits should definitely match. For instance, in the photo above, dad is wearing a blue t-shirt. Baby is wearing a patterned, blue romper. And mom is in a pink and white t-shirt with blue jeans. The theme is obviously blue....but they don't look like Smurfs ;-). 


2) Be YOU!

If you are a family of hikers, let's go to the mountains or the woods. Coffee drinkers? Let's take a few photos at the morning breakfast table with your favorite mug. Readers? Bring a book. The Chavez family made it a point to bring a book they planned on reading to their little girl during their maternity session. Then we snapped photos of them reading to Fiona as a newborn. Now, a year later, "Snuggle Puppy" is affectionately worn in from reading and has made yet another appearance in their family portraits. Bringing in something you love makes for some fabulous candid photos! And for the Chavez family, it was a way to keep their themes consistent.


3) Relax and have FUN!

I know it is difficult when you've put so much time and effort and money into a photo session and your child is refusing to cooperate. But if you can plan ahead that this is more about a time to have fun with a photographer hanging around instead of a time to look and pose a certain way, I can promise you things will go so much more smoothly. With small kiddos, things tend to go better if you can bring something to distract or reward them with. Chalk, bubbles, candy, toys, balloons...all of these things can be playfully incorporated into photos while adding an element of fun.

4) Be picky about the time of day.

I know it's hard to be out late or up early, but the time of day makes a huge difference in the way your photos will look. I convince most of my clients to schedule their session during golden hour - the last hour or two of sunlight at the end of the day. Not one has ever come to me wishing they'd done their photos in the middle of the afternoon. Colors are more vibrant, lighting more dramatic, and landscapes deeper. It's 110% worth it!

I hope you've enjoyed the glimpse into the Chavez Family Session and also learned a few useful things! Have questions? Leave them in the comments and I'll make sure to respond either on the blog or social media!

5 Tips to Help Your Wedding Go More Smoothly

Weddings take an incredible amount of planning! The larger the bridal party and the greater the number of guests, the more complicated the day becomes. Music, decor, formal wear, favors, food and drinks - the list of details seem to never end, especially if you don't have a wedding planner working with you.

There are, however, things you can do to make your day go a little more smoothly, especially in the realm of photos. My jobs as a photographer include helping to make your day stay on schedule (much easier to do when there is a coordinator to work with) and help you relax while also capturing the emotion, beauty, and details of your day.

Prior to the wedding, I work with my brides to create a photo schedule of the day, planning for every moment so nothing gets overlooked. I make sure to take photos, not only of the bride and groom, but of the bridal party, family, the dress, bouquet, and small details and decor the bride and family put so much work and planning into. The last thing you want is the stress of communicating back and forth trying to hunt down who has what detail, or who needs to be in charge of such and such a task. So here are a few tips to help your photography, and your day, go just a little more smoothly: 

1. Have your bridesmaid collect all the rings, your jewelry, garter, shoes, and any other meaningful details you'll be wearing on your person and keep them in a place that's easy to access. These can be photographed in advance and returned before you (the bride) need them.

2. Purchase a nice hanger for your dress. Photos of your dress just aren't the same hanging from an ugly, plastic hanger.

3. Put someone in charge of keeping your getting-ready room neat and tidy. Your photos will look so much better without the mess and clutter and also help keep you feeling zen as you get ready without all the chaos.

4. Assign a groomsmen to keep people away from where you and your groom are having your portraits taken. You need to feel as comfortable as possible during these photos, while also keeping them as efficient as possible so you can get back to your guests. An audience is not preferred during this time.

5. Instruct your bridesmaids to be ready with their hair and makeup and dresses before you are. This way, when they are helping you with your dress and final details, they are ready to focus entirely on you. Being ready also helps your photos look cleaner and well thought out.

Do you have any handy wedding day tips? Questions? Share them in the comments!

Engagement Photos: Sarah and Joe

I love engagement sessions. Along with being relaxed, fun, and memorable, they are informative. It is perhaps the best way for a couple to prepare for their wedding photos. Through the engagement session, we learn the best angles and poses for the couple, learn how to interact with one another, and have the opportunity for greater communication about likes and dislikes when it comes to photos.

Ideally, I will not meet with my clients fewer than two times before the wedding, our first meeting being the consult. Communication prior to the wedding could not be more important! And the more I get to know my couples, the better their photos are likely to reflect them and their hearts for one another.


Here are a few examples questions of things I like to ask my bride and groom during their consult:

  • How would you best describe your relationship?
  • What are hobbies you enjoy doing together?
  • Does your wedding have a theme?
  • What are your bridal colors?
  • Are there any places of significance to the two of you where we could potentially take your engagement photos?

Engagement photos should be low stress and fun! As weddings are often chaotic, the engagement session is the opportunity to include props of significance, silly or creative poses, or a location of special significance. 

Need some wardrobe inspiration? Check out the Pinterest Board I've put together for my clients on wardrobe: