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FAMILY PREP GUIDE

It is my hope to create a fun, personal experience for you and your family so that when you receive your finished photographs, you’ll cherish not only the images themselves, but also the memory of creating them. If you are relaxed and happy during your session, that will shine through in your photographs as we capture the moments that share the heartbeat of your special family.

I love capturing families playing, snuggling, being goofy, and just loving on each other. I will always do my best to get that one desired shot of everyone looking and smiling, but will for the most part, be giving piggyback rides to your kids, encouraging dads to show off their kid-flipping skills, having little ones give moms their BEST hugs EVER, and fun stuff like that.

All sessions are shot in the evening for optimal lighting - the time frame of this will depend upon the season and the sun. We will discuss this more in detail if we haven’t already.

Please take some time to read through the following information as you prepare yourself and your family!

Styling Tips

1. Choose a color scheme.  I would suggest choosing three main colors to work with.  This will give you more flexibility when it comes to dressing the entire family.  It will also really make your pictures pop!  You want to coordinate, NOT match.  By this, I mean choose the color(s) you want to work with and find different pieces that incorporate some or all of the colors you’ve chosen.   I do not want to find out that you sent out a memo saying “Everyone wear jeans and a white shirt” and call it a day.  White tops generally wash people out in photos, so I suggest staying away from white altogether unless it’s just an accent color.  Also, keep in mind that not every person has to have on every color you have chosen.  Split the colors up.  It makes the photo more playful and less uniform.

2. Find a focal point.  When you begin your shopping, look for a patterned piece that you simply cannot live without!  This may be a top that you feel absolutely fabulous in, or a plaid button up for your son that will make your heart melt, or maybe even an adorable little floral print dress for your little princess.  Whatever that piece may be, commit to it and work from there.  It’s natural for me to find the mother’s outfit first.  As moms, we tend to forget about ourselves in the planning and we become an afterthought.  Of course you want your kids to look cute, but you deserve to look and FEEL awesome in your pictures!  Trust me.  Take that time for YOU.  You won’t regret it!!

3. Mix it up.  Do not be afraid to mix prints and textures. For example:  You could choose a piece with polka dots and a piece with stripes.  You could put a denim top with a corduroy pant.  Your prints and textures don’t always have to come from your main pieces.  You can jazz up a dress with printed or textured tights.  By doing so, you will begin to showcase the different styles and personalities of each member of the shoot.

4. Layers, layers, layers!!!  When putting together an outfit, layers are what make the outfit look polished and complete!  Add a vest, jacket, cardigan, bowtie, hat, scarf, suspenders, belt, jewelry, etc.  This also gives the shoot much more depth!

5. Play on your strengths.  Ladies (& gentlemen), let’s be honest…most of us have some insecurities about our bodies.  But, my best advice to you is to WORK what you’ve got!  Know your body type and what styles will flatter your figure.  If you like your legs, show them off!  If you think you’ve lost your waist, try a high waisted pant or a tailored blazer.

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Wardrobe Tips

  • Timeless always has a place. I love when my clients show up to a shoot with the most simple and timeless of outfits. A smock dress that belonged to Great-Grandma. A plain white lace dress with a simple bow. A plain diaper cover. Naked baby! These outfits (or lack thereof) will always stand the test of time, and will never go out of style.

  • Dress your kiddos in clothes that fit perfectly, not with room to grow. Even if you child may only wear the outfit for a few months, it’ll look much better than putting them in something that they still need to grow into. Go a size smaller in jackets, cardigans or blazers.

  • Shoes are a very important part of wardrobe. Stay away from character shoes, flip flops, crocs. My recommendation for shoes are boots, leather sandals (just say “no” to Old Navy flip flops), Converse All-Stars, Toms, Sperrys, Joyfolie, Mary Janes, and Willits. And always, barefoot is an adorable option, especially with babies.

  • Remember, coordinating your childrens’ outfits is key. Not matching.

  • Layers are just as important for child wardrobe as it is for yours. Hats, glasses, vests, bow ties, cardigans, tights or leggings under a skirt. I do recommend making the outer layer (blazer, cardi, jacket) fit snugly. 

  • Hair piece tips. For babies, toddlers and older girls, I always recommend keeping hair accessories simple. When they are too big (think “gerber daisy” big), it distracts from their faces. Some of my favorite hair accessory shops are Sew Whimsey (www.etsy.com/shop/patriciamueller), Petunia and Ivy (www.etsy.com/shop/petuniaandivy), Kindred OAK (www.kindredoak.com), and Strawberry Girl Couture (www.strawberrygirlcouture.bigcartel.com).

  • The most important part of putting together your child’s wardrobe is allowing their personality to come through in what they’re wearing. If your daughter has a favorite pair of boots, let her wear them (at least in a few pictures). If your son prefers to run around naked to being fully clothed, we’ll let him strip down at the end of the session. If your child loves to wear hats and sunglasses, bring them! Whatever makes your child their own adorable, individual self, let’s focus on those things. Yes, we all want our children to look adorable and fully polished for photos. I’m not recommending you don’t brush your daughter’s hair or forget wiping off the smudged PB&J off your toddler’s face, but allow them to have a little bit of input when planning their wardrobe as well. And never say “no” to bringing their favorite things along. Photographers want to capture those, too.


What NOT to Wear

What NOT to wear. Remember to Olan Mills look of everyone in khakis + white button down shirts? That isn’t the kind of matching I’d like you to do. Again, think coordinating without matching perfectly. Dads, instead of defaulting to a plain ole polo - look for fun colors, stripes, plaids. Texture photographs amazingly. Get creative!

Helpful tip! Head into your local GAP (or the like) and mention you’re styling for family photos. They are happy to direct you - and free of charge! No need to pay a stylist when you have knowledgeable fashion advice right there in the store.

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Location & Weather

lets find the perfect spot for you

Typically, I have a few set locations I use for our session- I know the spot well and the lighting. Location address and meeting time will be communicated to you after booking and after we have discussed what look/feel you are going for with your pictures. If you have a specific location in mind, let's discuss it! Consider the places that mean the most to you – where did the most special moments of your life take place? What location says something about you, who you are, and what you love? Choosing a spot that evokes memories or emotions will help you to be relaxed during the photo session, and it will add an extra layer of depth to your portraits.

A quick but important note: if the weather turns out warmer/cooler than you anticipated when putting together outfits, please adjust what everyone is wearing. Doing a session when it's sweltering and kids are over dressed is never fun. Likewise, if a cold front comes through unexpectedly, please put sweaters on your children, as I can't photoshop out goose bumps and blue lips. I will most likely cut sessions short if I think the kids are too cold/overheated.

In case of rain, I will be watching the radar all day. If it doesn't rain, but is overcast, we will do one rescheduled shoot. If the second day is overcast with no rain, we will have to shoot without full sun.

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Illness

what to do if someone is sick

Just as important as the weather is that everyone being photographed be feeling 100%. There isn’t anything worse than an unhappy and sick feeling child - they especially do not want to be in front of a camera. At the first sign that your kids aren’t well, please give me a call.

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Favorite Places To Shop

Price points: $-cheap, $$-average, $$$-high, $$$$-expensive

1. Gap.com. They provide a great option for “basics.” Just about anything you’d need, you’ll find on their website. And Gap frequently offers sales and discounts if you sign up for their email list, plus their sale rack prices are amazing! $$-$$$

2. Freepeople.com. Free People is my happy place. Think easy, breezy, comfy, boho chick. $$$-$$$$

3. Anthropologie.com. It’s a little bit more on the expensive side, but the clothes are quality, unique and last forever. $$$$

4. Jcrew.com. Their Crew Cuts kids line is probably one of my top 5 sites for kids clothes. Also, their shoe selection for kids alone makes me giddy. $$$$

5. Mak-rose.com. A great cheap site for girls clothing. Boutique dresses, sweaters, blazers, tights, etc. Not much on that site I don’t love, and it’s very affordable. So, if you see something you like, it’s best to purchase now, because she sells out fast, and once it’s gone, it’s gone! $-$$

6. HM.com. I consider H&M the holy grail for all things boy and men. And, they just recently started selling clothes online! Eep! Their price point is ridiculously low, and the clothes are my favorite. My boys’ closets are stuffed full with H&M swag. Their trouser pants are around $10 and are amazing quality. Amazing. Also, the cutest little cardigans, sweaters, button downs and other great accessories for super low prices. Keep in mind that H&M sizes are a little different, and they run big. If your son is an average size 4, buy him the size 3-4 pants. The 4-5 seems like the obvious choice, but they’ll be too long and too big around the waist. $-$$

7. Forever21.com. Cute clothes for women of all sizes (and men!) on the cheap. Take someone with you if you choose to shop in-store. It’s a little overwhelming. But honestly, they have some amazing wardrobe choices and the best (cheapest) jewelry that won’t break the bank. $-$$

8. Zara.com. I get lost on this site, seriously. So many adorable pieces, shoes, accessories, etc. For men, women and children. $$-$$$$

9. Modcloth.com. A fun, flirty and pretty affordable site for women’s timeless dresses, fun tops and the best shoes and accessories! $$-$$$

10. Shopruche.com. Another great site for women’s dresses and tops. Gorgeous, gorgeous clothing. $$$

11. Joyfolie.com. Shoes, shoes, glorious shoes! For girls and women. Breathtaking dresses, jackets, caplets. Moms will thank me for this. Husbands, notsomuch. $$$$

12. Fleuranddot.com. The most adorable girls clothing you’ll ever find if you’re vintage-inspired in your look. Hands down. $$$$

12. Catch-alls. Antique stores. Garage Sales. Flea Market. Target. Ebay. Zulily. Hand-me-downs. Possibly even your photographer’s closet! Always keep your eyes peeled! You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find.


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After Our Session

What to expect

On the day of the photo session, we will meet at the selected location, and the creative fun will begin. It’s important for you and your family to be yourselves so your photographs can communicate who you really are.

2-3 weeks after the photographs have been taken and each image has been professionally retouched, you will experience the moment you have been eagerly awaiting! Sneak peek images may be posted to Facebook and/or the blog for your family and friends to view. You will get an email letting you know they are ready to preview. One week after your sneak peek, you will get the rest of your gallery.

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Final Thoughts

Keep your hands busy: Hold your child's hand, give kisses, brush their hair behind their ear, play and dance, chase and ask questions, pick flowers, tell secrets, start a tickle fight. Keep moving and enjoy the process with your children. Activities you enjoy doing with one another will help tell an authentic story and capture your true personalities. 

Stay patient and positive. Children tend to go at their own pace – and that’s fine. On the day of your session, we will work with you and your family to make sure everyone has an enjoyable, relaxed experience. If that means your preschooler needs to take a break for a snack, or your baby needs a new diaper and a change of clothes, you should feel comfortable to take the time you need. We know that a great photo session takes flexibility and patience. Accept the unpredictable: Embrace the chaos of the moment and this season of life. Honest connections and candid connections create real and specific memories. Be vulnerable and open in front of the camera and your family's story will begin to pour out.


And so the adventure begins...

Whew! I know that is a lot of info!! Don't hesitate to ask questions of visit this page to re-read it. 
I can't wait to spend time with your family! Each family I get the honor of working with is etched on my heart forever. Please know this process is very important to me and I value the true heartbeat of your family.

Have a question or need some help? I'm here and ready to help make your session come to life!

-xoxo Ashley