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The COMPLETE Guide for Preparing for you Family Session

My crew! Photo Courtesy of Anna Fleischmann Photography

I understand the wanting to stop time and capture your family in this moment of life. These are special portraits that you will be clinging to as your children grow. This checklist is a step-by-step guide to make sure your photos are exactly what you envisioned them be.

Before Your Session

  • Plan your outfits at least a week in advance - don’t wait ‘til the last day, trust me! Been there, done that! You do not want to be running to every store within a 30-minute radius to find your outfits! Preparing ahead of time will help you feel relaxed and prepared, so plan these details out early! Check out this Family Styling Guide from Lynzy&Co.

  • Prepare your kids (and husband!) with laid-back, low-key references to let them know what’s happening. Tell them you will be “hanging out with our friend Chelsea” or that they will be able to play at the location you pick. Keep things fun, lighthearted, and casual.

  • Hair, Nails, Make-Up - Make appointments if needed. Take off chipped nail polish! No polish is better than chipped polish. Check your kid's hands too! Try to scrub the dirt or remove the chipped neon polish on your girls. Yes, it will show in the photos!

  • Brainstorm about specific props, mementos, or special types of images you want to be captured. Some families bring heirloom items, a special handkerchief, an embroidered keepsake, etc. Some families know they want a very specific type of photograph taken. If you have these preferences, be sure to brainstorm them in advance and let me know as well!

  • And of course, make sure everyone gets a great night’s sleep and is well fed beforehand.

Photo Courtesy of Anna Fleischmann Photography

How to Dress for Your Session

  • Dress for the weather! We want everyone to be comfortable.

  • Don’t wear matching clothes - jeans-and-matching-shirts are no longer recommended. Instead, wear colors in a complementary color palette, such as earth tones and neutrals. This makes everything look less matchy and just naturally put together!

  • No tennis shoes or shirts with writing on them! This takes away from the photos. You want your portraits to be timeless!

  • Be careful about undergarments. While I am experienced at Photoshop, editing out bra straps, bra lines or panty lines is difficult and time-consuming. Choose clothes that properly cover your undergarments, in all types of movement scenarios.

  • I recommend women wear medium or long dresses. Short dresses will be a challenge when we do any seated photos, so keep that in mind.

  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothes you can move in. If your dress gets suddenly too short when you bend over, or your pants are too tight to sit down in, opt for more breathable pieces. Be prepared to move!

  • Remind gentlemen to take bulky items like phones and car keys out of their pockets before we start snapping photos.

Photo Courtesy of Anna Fleischmann Photography

What to Bring to Your Session

  • Any personal appearance touchup items you might want, including things like lipstick or a hairbrush.

  • Don't forget to bring props or mementos - if you have special images that you want to be captured!

  • SNACKS please and candy to bribe your kiddos! It’s best not to tell kids about the treats before the session; wait until the kids start getting fatigued before you pull out that candy card! You will be glad you did! They’ll usually are pretty happy when they find out mom brought the good stuff! Just make sure the snacks/treats won’t stain lips or fingers!

  • Ladies, bring walking shoes if you are planning to wear heels or wedges! We will probably be walking short/moderate distances on unpaved trails, possibly with hills. Walkable shoes are a must! You can change into your gorgeous wedges before we start shooting.

  • A change of clothes for the kiddos, in case anyone gets muddy or dirty. As a photographer & mom, I love when kids interact fully with their surroundings, and I’m thrilled to photograph them playing in the water or running through the grass. Capturing them in their element is so much fun! As a parent, you might not be too keen to let them back into your car, covered in sand. Bring a change of clothes or shoes. Maybe even a towel. You never know!!

  • A beer. Just kidding! (well ... kind of!) But seriously, if a beer will help to loosen your husband a bit beforehand, I'd say it's a good thing to put on your checklist!

Photo Courtesy of Anna Fleischmann Photography

How to Pose During Your Photo Session

  • No need to ‘Cheese’ the whole time! I’m aiming for natural interactions and unposed moments. I strive to capture and encourage authentic expressions. No more fake smiles! Children around the ages of 5-10 will sometimes try to “cheese” in the photos because that’s what they’ve been conditioned to do when they see a camera! Help me create more candid shots by interacting playfully with your children.

  • Laugh, play, tickle, and snuggle. This is how we’ll capture the REAL moments.

  • Not everyone has to be looking at the camera. Actually, I usually encourage my gentlemen to NOT look at the camera. (they seem to prefer that, as well!) I like to especially encourage my dads to focus on their partners and their kids.

  • When in doubt, just smile and look at your family lovingly.

  • Stand close together. Actually, as close as possible :)

  • Relax, slow down, and don’t force anything. Don’t feel pressured to make everything perfect! Just be present with your family and I’ll do the rest. And don’t stress if any of the kids get fussy! Just snuggle your kiddos and we can still capture beautiful images!

  • Expect me to move you around to different spots to capture images. The more variety we get, the bigger your gallery and the more great shots we have the opportunity to create together!

Photo Courtesy of Anna Fleischmann Photography

What to Expect After Your Photo Session

After your session, your work is almost done! You can let your hair down, put your feet up, and relax a little bit.

  • After your session, I will be working hard behind the scenes to cull the best photos (eliminating duplicates, blurs, and blinks) Your gallery is typically ready within 3 weeks of your session.

  • I will soon deliver your gallery so you can select your can view, share and download your images!

  • Look online (such as the Pinterest links I sent you!) for ideas about wall gallery displays. There are tons of beautiful ideas for every style and budget. In your online gallery, you can conveniently order high-quality prints, framed photos, and canvases,

Last step to complete your portrait experience:


I encourage everyone to print their photos because then you can see them and appreciate them in your home every single day!

I can't wait to capture your unique family and share your timeless images with you!

Thank you for choosing me to be your photographer!

- Chelsea


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