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Family Outdoor Sessions this Summer
Relaxed, fun, candid family photography session held in and around Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Shropshire and Cheshire.
I believe that so many great lessons have been learned during the course of this global pandemic. For all the worry, uncertainty, and sadly for some, great tragedy, that it has brought, it too has been a period of enlightenment. It has shone a sunny light on the beautiful simplicity of life, as we bathe in our gardens, home school our children, improve our homes and find time to do so many things that the frenetic chaos of ‘normal’ life denies us the time to do. Among those activities, it has also afforded us the rare opportunity to reflect on what, and more importantly, WHO, really matters to us. From the little ones we watch grow, play and learn, to the older ones we long to cuddle and all those other friends and relatives who have become faces on screens rather than the three-dimensional figures we take for granted day-to-day. This is why time will forever be the greatest commodity we ever own, we spend it so freely but can never get it back, and yet it always has a wonderful way of reminding us what really matters.
As cliché as it is, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of ‘wasting time’, of worrying about tomorrow, rather than living for today. And while I firmly believe that, I also believe in investing in tomorrow and doing something today that your future self will thank you for. With all this newfound focus on time, togetherness and family, I passionately believe that candid moments should be captured, family fun should be framed and memories should be shared, not just in the moment, but forevermore through photographs. For this time, is time that can’t be re-lived, clocks can’t be rewound and those baby smiles will turn to toddler giggles, and then to teenage shoulder shrugs in the blink of an eye – believe me, I turned my back for a second and somehow my baby boy now has his own baby boy, and apparently it’s 2020?!!
If I had my ‘time’ again there are many things I wouldn’t change, and plenty of things I would. I wish I’d found photography sooner, I wish I had endless albums to flick through on those sofa nights, just me, Martyn, Minnie, Mo… and a bottle of Merlot. Sadly, I didn’t get to capture my fun-loving family as they grew but I can capture yours. I want my photography to be a reflection of you, of your family, and all the many ways in which you are wonderfully unique. My family sessions are relaxed, unposed, and natural, leaving you free to just be you and have beautiful photographs to keep.
For the last 5 years, I’ve had the absolute pleasure of photographing Jess, Scott, and the children; I’ve loved watching them grow and recording all those little details for them. As with all my families, I encourage you to choose a location that is important to you, like Cannock Chase, which are hugely popular with local families, but for Scott, also hold sentimental meaning as his grandparents’ ashes are scattered nearby.
My family photography is all inclusive of digital files; I want you to have them all and that’s exactly what you get. I don’t want you to have to pick images, rejecting some you love as you’re restricted to a limit. Equally my pricing is always transparent, which is hugely important to me, as I want all my families to know exactly what they are getting, and with no nasty surprises.
I photograph family lifestyle sessions from April through to late November. For more images from outdoor sessions click here.
If you like the sound of this kind of session then please contact me and I will be delighted to tell you all about it…
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When there are so many family photographers out there, how can you choose which one is right for you?
What should you be looking for in a professional family photographer?
How to choose a family photographer: My top tips
Well, I believe that the decision is a very personal one. But there are certainly a few things that you should always consider before you choose a family photographer.
Here are my top tips on things to think about:
1. Their photography style
Don’t hire a photographer who exclusively specialises in indoor studio photography and then ask them to take your family photos outdoors!
Or hire a photographer who specialises in black and white photography and then ask them for full-colour portraits.
Another thing to avoid is asking your chosen photographer to recreate another photographer’s style. If you’ve decided you like a particular photographer’s style more than theirs, you’ve chosen the wrong photographer!
Each and every photographer will have a unique style and you should be completely in love with their work before hiring them. They will produce a similar style of photography for you as what you see in their portfolio of work, and you need to be 100% comfortable with that.
Location is likely to be a factor since you may not wish to travel far with your newborn baby or with your children to be photographed. So, before you decide on your photographer, consider how far or for how long you are prepared to travel to get to them.
However, the distance may not be an issue for you. You may decide that you are prepared to travel quite some way to the perfect photographer.
While I’m located in Stafford and work with many local families, it’s not uncommon for families to travel from across Staffordshire and from bordering counties to be photographed by me.
The quality of the images will tell you a lot about the photographer.
When reviewing potential photographers, do take some time to look closely at their images and notice all the fine details. A high-quality professional photographer will care about all this.
Even with no knowledge of photography yourself, you can probably notice the difference between a highly skilled photographer and someone who is just starting out when you compare their work life-for-like.
4. Customer service and experience
The professionalism that the photographer’s website conveys, and how they deal with your initial enquiry should give you some indication of the calibre of the photographer you’re considering. A quality photographer will strive to offer you an excellent experience.
Even from that initial contact with them and their business, whether online or on the phone, you’ll be able to gauge what it may be like to work with them.
A customer-focused photographer will also have invested time and effort into creating information, guides and other useful resources to help and support you in your photography journey.
It’s likely that those who have created blog articles to answer all your questions, and who demonstrate that they understand you and your potential concerns about hiring them, are the photographers who are most likely to offer a professional, high-quality service.
Their commitment to customer service will be clear from how much effort they put into the information they provide for their potential customers.
It’s really important that you decide on your budget for photography before making a decision about who to hire. You also need to ensure that your preferred choice of photographer is within your budget.
Most photographers have pricing information available on their website and you should look carefully at the packages that are available.
Does the photographer require a minimum spend? Do they charge a ‘session fee’ in addition to a fee for digital images, prints and wall art? Can you feasibly afford the number of images and products you want for your home, based on their prices?
Bargain photographers are out there. But, what corners have they had to cut in order to be able to offer you photography services and products at those unbelievably cheap prices?
While prices don’t always correlate with quality, I’d always urge you to buy the very best you can afford rather than opt for cut-price photography. Otherwise, I believe that you’ll live to regret it.
6. Photography Awards
Another factor you might want to consider is whether they have received photography awards for their work.
As I explain in this article though, not all photography awards are created equal! So I highly recommend that you dig a little deeper when considering which photographers to choose based on awards.
Which awards have they won? How many have they won? And from which photography organisations?
Almost all photographers claim to be award-winning these days, so beware!
While you don’t have to choose a family photographer with photography awards to their name, it should give you some indication of the quality of their work. If you’re keen to hire the very best photographer you can afford, photography awards, therefore, may be an important factor for you to consider.
Choosing a family photographer
I realise that choosing a family photographer is a tough decision, and is an important one to get right. So, I hope that these tips have helped you?
If you would like any more information about my photography services, or if you already know that I’m the right photographer for you and you’d like to get in touch to book your session, please contact me via this form. I look forward to hearing from you!
Ahead of a professional portrait session, it’s really important to plan what to wear.
Whether you’re booked onto one of my outdoor seasonal shoots, or are visiting my photography studio for an indoor family portrait session, I highly recommend that you spend some time planning your outfits.
PLEASE don’t just turn up in any old thing!
What to wear to your family photoshoot
What you, your partner and your children wear to your family photoshoot can massively affect the overall feel and quality of the pictures.
I’m certainly not suggesting you have to put on your Sunday best or wear something that doesn’t feel natural to you. No, not at all!
It’s crucial that you feel relaxed and comfortable during the session. That will allow me to get natural and flattering photos of you all.
Professional quality family portraits
But do remember, you’re probably having this session in order to get some professional quality family portraits.
You’ll need to give some thought to what you wear to your family photoshoot since you’ll want the pictures to last.
You’ll want to be happy looking back at them in years to come, and not cringing at what you were wearing!
My top tips for what to wear to a family photoshoot
Smart, classic cut jeans, chinos, shirts, jumpers, classic dresses or skirts, and plain t-shirts are best.
Keep the clothing fuss-free. No over-the-top frills or patterns!
And aim to avoid anything that is fashionable, but may not be in a year or two’s time!
During an indoor, studio family photoshoot, we’re likely to do pictures without shoes. Please ensure your feet are photo-worthy! Ladies, be sure to repair any chipped polish on your toenails or why not even treat yourself to a pedicure?!
For footwear, smart shoes, boots or canvas pumps are good options for men, women and kids. Avoid branded sports trainers and anything that isn’t clean and in good condition.
Wellies are fine, but on I’d recommend you choose plain wellies rather than colourful ones with busy patterns.
Shoes say a lot about you, so keep them smart!
Muted colours work well.
You’ll want to avoid anything that’s too ‘loud’, patterned, or too tight-fitting. I want you to be the focus of the portrait, not the clothes you are wearing!
For a group photograph, it works really well if you can wear similar, complementary colours without being too ‘matchy’.
Avoid wearing the exact same patterns and colours as each other.
Instead, try to create a cohesive, coordinated look. Choose clothes and patterns carefully so that every family member’s clothes work well with each other’s.
Consider the seasons
If it’s one of my autumn photo walks that you’re coming along to, pick clothes that are suitable for the cooler temperatures. I may ask you to not wear a coat, so make sure you have layers on to avoid a chill!
For these seasonal outdoor photo sessions, stylish winter woollies, chunky knits and smart coordinating accessories are perfect.
Also, pick colours that work well with the season. Think warm berry colours; dark blues, mulberry, plums, and creams, browns, golds and burnt oranges. These colours will look great against the backdrop of the autumn leaves.
For indoor family shoots or for summer outdoor shoots, cooler colours are great. Classic white and denim works well. As does black or navy, with a splash of red or other bright accent colour.
But, if in doubt, stick to a neutral colour palette and you can’t go wrong!
Don’t forget accessories
Accessories can make or break an outfit.
For women, don’t forget to consider your jewellery and any accessories such as hats, gloves and scarves (if it’s particularly cold).
Don’t leave these as an after-thought. These are as important as the choice of clothes since they help to create an overall ‘look’.
I hope these tips have been useful.
For further inspiration, you can also visit my Pinterest board which includes ideas on what to wear to your family photoshoot.
Remember, you’re probably going to have your photographs up on the walls in your home, or mounted in frames and displayed somewhere for a long time. So, in terms of what to wear to your family photoshoot, choose outfits and clothing that will stand the test of time and make you look the very best possible version of yourself.
To book a family photoshoot, contact me by completing this form.
What is the secret to a successful family photoshoot?
Having now photographed hundreds of local families, I wanted to share with you today what I believe to be the most important thing for you to know about family photoshoots.
And, I’m including a selection of photos from my autumn photo walks which were held in October 2017 at my favourite local beauty spot, Cannock Chase, here in Staffordshire.
As you’ll see, they gave me the opportunity to take lots of cracking family pictures for my clients.
Fun family portrait sessions
During my family photo walk sessions, held every autumn, I take literally thousands of photos.
But the best ones by far are the ones where I capture families having fun. These are the standout images that I know my clients love too.
So, for me, this is the secret to a successful family photoshoot. Fun!
How to relax during your family photoshoot
I certainly aim to ensure that the process of having your portrait taken is as fun as possible. Even if it can be quite daunting to be photographed!
Getting you to relax and feel at ease in front of the camera is my number one priority. That’s because I know that if you are relaxed, that will shine through in the photos.
So, how can you relax during a family portrait session? Here are my top tips.
Tip No. 1 – Play
I’ll always encourage you to play together – to kick up the crispy autumnal leaves, to play hide and seek, to run, jump, spin around. Whatever it takes to make you forget that I’m even there!
If you’re having fun and enjoying the time together as a family, rather than thinking about what I’m doing and how you should pose, I can capture all the natural interactions between you.
Which is why I prefer to not provide too much direction in terms of where to stand or how to pose.
Because once I start giving instructions, the fun is lost, and this shows in the photos.
The best pictures are those which show you and your family engaging with each other in a natural, uncontrived way.
Tip 2 – Don’t always look at the camera
On the same note, I think that a great portrait isn’t necessarily one in which you are all looking at the camera. You could be looking away from the camera; to the floor, at each other, or into the distance.
What you are looking at isn’t really important. It’s how I capture you, your expression and what you are doing.
I aim to capture genuine moments since these to me are the moments that matter.
Tip 3 – Don’t fake a smile
It’s just the worst when children put on that fake ‘cheeeeeese’ expression, isn’t it? I’ll always do what I can to avoid that at all costs!
So, one thing you’re unlikely to get from me is a request to smile to the camera. I much prefer it when the smiles I capture are 100% genuine.
And even if these are only fleeting, I’ll be there with my camera, eager and ready to take the shot in that split-second when they happen.
If genuine smiles aren’t forthcoming, children can always be encouraged to smile through play. And I’ve many tried and tested ways to get kids to smile, believe me!
Experience tells me that children of all ages usually love being out in the open. Playing in the leaves, discovering big sticks, and hiding behind trees is usually enough to bring out a smile.
Failing that, just making them laugh is a sure-fire way to get a great naturally happy face to photograph.
Book your lifestyle family photoshoot today
Whether you want a family portrait session outdoors, like my upcoming photo walks. Or if you want one in the comfort of your own home or at a location that is special to you, the option is there.
This year’s autumn photo walks will be taking place at a brand new location – the beautiful Stafford Castle – in early October 2018. If that’s of interest, click here or on the image below to join the waiting list and to be among the first to know when these are available to book.
My popular autumn family photo walks will soon be back!
These are mini outdoor photo sessions that I hold once a year, here in Stafford. If you like autumn as much as I do, this is an opportunity that you won’t want to miss!
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