Tips for timing, choosing a location, outfits, managing kids and more!

Portrait Session

PLANNING YOUR family

to THE MAIN WEBSITE

I'm so excited to be working with you and can’t wait for our time together during your session. It’s normal to be a little anxious about your session. You're a busy family with quite a few things on your plate!

That's actually one of the reasons why we put together this guide. It covers things to keep in mind when it comes to choosing a location, outfits, prepping kids and more. 

Hopefully it helps you feel fully prepared for our time together, but should you have any other questions or if you need advice, please feel free to reach out!



- lindsay

One thing we’ve learned over the years is that our experience of our children is different from what others experience. For example, if you’re at the grocery store with your three year old son and he starts yelling, you probably think he’s irritating other customers more than he is. Most likely, those other customers just see a cute (slightly loud,) three year old. 

The same holds true for photo sessions. Your child is in a new element and a stranger is holding a big camera in front of their face. They’re likely not going to entirely be themselves. They may show off more than usual or your extrovert may suddenly become shy. 

Rest assured, it’s all okay. 

Managing

little ones

The best thing you can do for your kids is to go with the flow and stay positive. The more you relax and have fun with things, the more likely your little one (or big one,) is to get on board. 

It can also be helpful to pack a few treats and snacks for younger children. Favorite toys, comfort items, drinks, and the promise of ice cream afterwards work wonders!

I'm incredibly patient with kids and have a few tricks up my sleeve to help get even the smallest ones to cooperate. 

Also, definitely plan on packing a change of clothes for everyone, if our session is taking place outside. Sometimes life happens (baby blow outs, am I right?), or something really fun happens (like splashing in the lake!) and it's so helpful to already have extra clothes on hand for after your session ends. 

Newborn

You’ve likely realized this by now, but babies can be a bit messy. It’s always a good idea for all members of the family to plan an extra outfit just in case. 

04

This is a season when you might not quite feel like yourself. A fresh outfit you feel good in goes a long way. We’ve found longer, a-line dresses that are nursing friendly are often the most flattering. Brands like Petal and Pup and Morning Lavender tend to have quite a few of these at affordable prices. Session days are also a good day to take others up on that offer to help. You are one hard working mama and if you have time to nap, shower and get ready in peace, you’re going to love these images a lot more. 

Dear Mama,

03

While your entire house doesn’t need to look like it’s ready for Pinterest, we do recommend cleaning up the nursery and any places you think we might shoot. This might include your bed, the couch or a spot in your home with beautiful natural light. But truly, that's all you need to prep. We know you're in the throes of newborn life and we won't judge the pile or dishes in the sink or baby paraphernalia that has suddenly taken over the house.  

Preparing your home

backup Outfits

Feed and change your little one’s diaper right before we arrive. This helps ensure that they are ready to go as soon as we arrive. However due to the tiny size of their tummies, it’s also likely that they’ll need another feed (and maybe a diaper change) during the shoot.

Please don’t worry about pausing the session to feed your little one. This is normal! We plan extra time for newborn sessions, and love to tastefully document feedings. This newborn phase is so fleeting, and every small captured moment will later be cherished. Even the messy ones.

02

01

Preparing your Baby

If we’ll be photographing the newest members of your family, the following tips below will help ensure everyone is happy throughout the session.

Newborns

a note about

Short answer - yes. We will plan your session around and during the prettiest light of the day, called the "golden hour." All that glowy light you see and love in my outdoor photos? You can thank the sinking (or rising!) sun for that lovely blush of light.

Sessions typically last about an hour and a half and when when we can—we love to begin sessions about two hours before sunset. We prefer to shoot when the sun is lower in the sky to avoid harsh shadows and bright sun patches. The first two hours after sunrise is also an ideal time to shoot.

We schedule sessions during what we believe will be the best light of the day - which means that it’s super important to be on time. If you’re late to an evening session, we could run out of light before we’ve finished shooting and if your session takes place in the morning, the sun gets more harsh as it rises. 

Is there a "good" time to take outdoor photos? 

TIME & LIGHT

Sunset & Bedtimes

In the warmer months, sunset sessions often fall during the witching hour. They may even fall during or after bedtime. 

As much as we love a consistent bedtime routine, in order to capture the best light during "golden hour", we're like going to need to throw off your schedule a bit. 

If our session takes place close to dinnertime, we recommend feeding kids (and yourselves!) before we begin shooting. 

If your little one is going to be going to bed later, consider pushing their nap a bit that day, letting them sleep longer or packing pj's so that you can quickly tuck them into bed as soon as you get home.

If your session takes place in the fall, while it might be tempting to dress your little one in a pumpkin costume to eternally remember the cuteness that babies in costumes in giant piles of leaves holds, we advise keeping attire a little more neutral. 

Yes, that image would crush it on the ‘gram, but if you’re hoping to print these images for your walls, will you always want to see that pumpkin costume? 

The same holds true for images taken for Christmas cards. While those red and green sweaters might be worthy of the Minted hall of fame, are you really going to want to look at photos of yourselves in holiday sweaters in the summer? 

If you’re looking for outfit advice, feel free to send ideas our way! We’re happy to help curate a wardrobe that not only feels coordinated, but that looks beautiful for years to come. 

Seasonality

things to keep in mind:

Summer

walks on the beach hand in hand

In spite of the heat, we’re big fans of summer sessions! Because of the later sunset, sessions sometimes begin as late as 6pm. If you’re taking your engagement photos during the summer, we recommend bringing extra makeup and a few towels to make sure you stay fresh throughout your session. 

01

02

03

04

Fall

colorful leaves and snuggling close

Fall is one of the prettiest times of the year on the East Coast and because of the perfect weather, our schedules typically book up quickly! If you have your heart set on a fall engagement session, we recommend scheduling it as soon as you book! 

01

02

03

04

View next

If you your session takes place during the winter, we could begin shooting as early as 2:30pm to catch the sunset. We recommend dressing in layers so that in between photos you can warm up. Make sure you bring a little extra makeup and tissues in case your nose begins running. Pocket warmers and thick socks hidden in cute boots can help keep everyone warm without showing up in images. 

snowfall, hot cocoa and cozy coats

Winter

View next

Even though Spring begins in March, we typically don’t begin shooting for another 6 weeks because the weather in our area is still pretty chilly. When we schedule spring dates, we typically schedule both a primary date and a backup rain date because #aprilshowers. 

Fresh Flowers & Sunny Days

Spring

View next

In spite of the heat, we’re big fans of summer sessions! Because of the later sunset, sessions sometimes begin as late as 6pm. If you’re taking your photos during the summer, we recommend bringing extra makeup and a few towels to make sure you stay fresh throughout your session. 

"If it could only be like this always"

Summer

View next

Fall is one of the prettiest times of the year on the East Coast and because of the perfect weather, our schedules typically book up quickly! If you have your heart set on a fall session, we recommend scheduling early!

"and autumn a mosaic of them all."

Autumn

A few things to keep in mind during each season:

We know that some family members just happen to be furry and we love when families choose to incorporate pets into their session. Keep in mind that bringing a pet along often means that we’ll need to choose a pet friendly location. 

We will plan accordingly for your pet to be part of your photo session. We won’t use the pet in every single photo so it’s also nice to have someone available to hold him or her in between shots, if possible! Please let me know ahead of time if you will have a helper for your pet, no worries at all if not.

If you’re going to bring a pet, we recommend exercising your pet so they are as calm as possible before the session and bringing your pets favorite toy or treats! Depending on your pet’s fur type, it might also be a good idea to groom or brush them before the shoot. 

If your pet is uncomfortable around strangers or unfamiliar places, please consider these needs and plan appropriately. If we are planning your session outdoors, it would be a good idea to take your pet there as many times as possible before our session to get them comfortable at the location. 

Managing

furry ones

on to the next

When picking outfits we recommend keeping in mind the word “complement” rather than “match.” For example, if Dad is wearing a blue and pink pastel plaid shirt, the Mom may want to choose a long, soft blue dress. It can also be a great idea to choose “color-families,” such as pastels or jewel tones.

A good rule of thumb: pick 3 or so colors and spread them throughout the family. Don't be afraid to mix a few subtle patterns or textures (such as linen). 

And always keep the location in mind. For example, if we're shooting in a green field, green clothing might blend in too much with the surroundings. 

Choosing Outfits

for everyone

Heels lengthen legs but if your heels aren’t comfortable for walking or we'll be in grass, bring an extra pair of shoes to slip into in between shots.

We love the way larger patterns and textures (like linen) photograph - just be careful not to choose a pattern that is too small - it may accidentally make your photo look a little too busy.

Softer, pastel colors tend to photograph better than bright colors - especially since bright colors could reflect on your skin. We love bright, neon dresses, but we don’t love the neon reflection they add to your complexion. 

Wardrobe Tips

for the ladies

on to the next

Statement jewelry is a great way to add color or pattern to a simple dress. Lace and tulle look amazing in photographs.

And dresses with sleeves are a great way to help slim arms. Depending on your location, you might want to consider a fit and flare or a flowy dress.

They look great in walking and photos with movement. Choose an outfit you feel comfortable in, but don’t be afraid to dress up!

Accessories

for the ladies

on to the next

We think it’s so important that you look and feel your best for your photos. While not at all expected, investing in professional hair and makeup can go a long way towards creating photos you will love for years. 

Professionally done hair & makeup last longer than typical hair & makeup. They also tend to hold up better in humidity and wind. But please don't feel pressured, you still need to look and feel like yourself!

If you go this route, we recommend staying “classic” - true to you. Now probably isn’t the best time to try out that new contouring technique you saw on TikTok. 

If you’re planning to do any spray tans or waxing, schedule those for a few days before the session to give your skin time to recover. 

Hair & Makeup

for the ladies

on to the next

You can’t go wrong with crisp button up. Or consider layering a blazer or sweater with jeans with this look. Bowties are always a good idea.

Be careful not to choose a pattern that is too small - it may accidentally make your photo look a little too busy.

Softer, pastel colors tend to photograph better than bright colors - especially since bright colors could reflect on your skin. Cozy sweaters layered over button ups are a great way to stay warm and stylish during the cooler months.

Wardrobe

for the gents

on to the next

Wardrobe

for the gents

on to the next

Everlane
Banana Republic
Mango
Reiss
Alex Mill
Untuckit
Amazon - GoodThreads
Bonobos
Abercrombie
Rag & Bone

shop my PRIME favorites

Kate Quinn
Zara Kids
Quincy Mae
Rylee & Cru
Noralee
Target - Cat & Jack, Art Class, Q by Quincy Mae
H&M Kids
Crew Cuts by J Crew
Roolee
Alice & Ames

Favorite Shops

Smallable
Fin and Vance
Little & Co.
Briar Baby
Jaime Kay
Childhoods Clothing
Spearmint Love
Gap
Old Navy
Boden
Hanna Andersson

for the kids

shop my PRIME favorites

on to the next

It’s typical for us to schedule two session dates. A primary date and a rain date. Having two dates helps us make sure that your photos happen in a timely manner. Coordinating schedules can be tough and we’ve found that the best way to make sure our families get the look they have in mind for their photos is to schedule two dates at the same time.

We’ll check in the week of your session to confirm the time & location we’re meeting and the weather. We know it takes a lot of time to get ready for session and it’s the worst to get dressed up and drive out to your session only to have it rain. Let us know what works best for your family, but if the weather looks like it won’t be great, we typically try to make the call at least 12 hours in advance. 

Inclement Weather

what to do if it rains

When it comes to posing for your session, you don’t need to worry about a thing! I'll guide you through the entire process beginning with “poses” that are super easy and natural. If I tell you to do something that feels a little funny, it’s probably because I know it’s going to make everyone laugh - and that’s the photo we’re actually looking for. 

Throughout your session, I’ll keep an eye on your hair, makeup and outfits to make sure things stay in place. We want you to feel as relaxed as possible and enjoy your time together! 

"What do I do with
 my hands"?

"What do I do
 with my hands"?

POSING

If you have booked an extended family session (more than one household, grandparents, etc), we have a few tips to help make photographing this larger group a bit easier on everyone. 

Extended Family Sessions 

Tips for larger groups

Please send us all family groupings ahead of time so that while we’re shooting, we understand who should be photographed together. 

While you don’t need to draw us a family tree (although bonus points if you do!) something like this would work well:

1

Grandma - Jean 
Grandfather - Max 

Sam (son of Jean + Max) and Tina.
Their Kids: Jason (10), Julianne (5) and Jack (2) 

Elizabeth (son of Jean + Max) and Paul 
Their Kids: Austin (9) and Claire (6) 

When it comes to choosing outfits for larger families, we recommend coordinating with one another ahead of time. Photographs typically come out best when families choose a color palette or a few colors over wearing the exact same thing (think: the white polo and khaki photo uniform of the 90’s.

Outfits that feel a bit special (your “Sunday best”) but that you still feel comfortable in generally result in the best images. 

 If you need any advice in this area, just let us know!

2

When it comes to choosing a location for larger groupings, there are a few extra elements to keep in mind. Locations should be easy to access, limit walking and be safe for young children. 

While we can get away with shooting small families in a downtown setting, for larger families, we’ll need a bit of space to spread out. Family homes with larger yards (and open shade), parks and outdoor settings typically work best for extended families. 

3

Following the session, we’ll deliver a gallery with the edited images. Please let us know ahead of time who should have access to this gallery. If you send us a list of the email addresses, we can set those up at the time of delivery to give all necessary parties access. 


4

Entire family 

Grandparents + Their children 

Grandparents + Their children + spouses 

Child A + Child B 

Grandparents + Child A + Child A’s Family 

Grandparents + Child B + Child B’s Family 

Child A + Child A’s Family 

Child A + Spouse 

Child A’s Kids 

Child A + kids 

Child A spouse + kids 

Individual photos of all members of Child A’s Family 

Child B + Child A’s Family 

Child B + Spouse 

Child B’s Kids 

Child B + kids 

Child B spouse + kids 

Individual photos of all members of Child B’s Family 

Example Extended Family Shot List 

Please note that this list is just a starting point and that we're happy to take any requested family portraits as long as time allows!

Yes, you are welcome to print the images on your own. If you do this, we recommend making sure that the printer does not color correct the images (many automatically do this.) We also recommend looking for a high quality printer. While 10 cent prints sound great in theory, the cheaper printing quality often won’t do your images justice. Paper quality, color correction and a handful of other factors play a big role in the way your prints turn out. This is one of the reasons why we LOVE offering prints to our clients, and that each Collection comes with a print credit!

A:

Can I print the images on my own?

q:

While we don’t guarantee an exact number of images, we will make sure we capture your family thoroughly. Most families should expect to receive at least 60 edited images following their session. Please keep in mind that each Collection contains a pre-set amount of downloadable images. 

A:

How many images will be in the final gallery?

q:

We guarantee that your images will remain in an online gallery for at least one month. While your galleries may stay up longer than that, we cannot guarantee it. Once you choose your Collection and your gallery have been delivered, we highly recommend downloading all high resolution images to several devices. Consider investing in a portable, waterproof external hard drive.

A:

How long will I have access to the images?

q:

While turnaround times can vary by season, we aim to deliver all images within three weeks of your session. You will be given access to your slideshow first, and then will be able to choose the Collection that is right for you!

A:

When will I receive my images?

q:

Frequently

asked

Questions

You are absolutely welcome to share images on social media. To ensure that our work is properly represented, we ask that you refrain from any edits or applying any social media filters. We also appreciate image credits and tags as they help us to continue to grow as a business. 

A:

Can I share the images on social media? 

q:

By default, the creators of images always own the rights to the images. However we’ll give you a release to use, print and share your images. The only thing you won’t be able to do is sell your image. We won’t do this either without your written permission. 

A:

Do I own the rights to the images?

q:

We typically plan about 90 minutes for sessions. While we likely don’t need to be shooting this entire time, this does give us the flexibility for location changes, rowdy kids and time to warm up. 

A:

How long should we plan for the session to take?

q:

We do light retouching on all of our images. This means that if there are any glaring objects that should be removed (such as a bump from the tumble your toddler took that morning,) we’ll remove it. Larger edits require more time and would require us to add additional billable editing hours to your collection.  

A:

Will you retouch our images? 

q:

As soon as possible after your session is complete, we’ll back up your images and begin the editing process. Unless we have a holiday closure, you can expect to receive your edited, digital images between 3 and 4 weeks after your session. 

Your Images

When to Expect

We’re big believers that images aren’t meant to solely exist in a digital space. One day, most likely, Instagram will be gone, your phone will be replaced and images that you can physically hold in your hand will be the best way to remember those precious moments we captured. 

Think about this fact: fifteen years ago, if we had delivered you digital images, they would have been on a floppy disk. With the fast updates to technology, you would have no way to access those images today. Even the online galleries we deliver will eventually fade away. 

But prints? Those last. I bet your family still has images from your grandparents (maybe even great grandparents.) And that was likely from a time period when cameras were expensive and prints were harder to come by. 

Bring Your Images to Life with 

prints

Perfect for those who value legacy. These heirloom albums are a great way to house a large number of images in a beautiful way. Leave them on display as coffee table books or protect them with a legacy box. 

Albums

Our framed and matted prints are the perfect way to fill your walls with memories. With a variety of frames to choose from, we’ll help you select the perfect image pairings for your space. 


Prints & Wall Art

Details for ordering will be delivered with your gallery

Easy to hang and easy to change out. Canvases are one of our favorite ways to decorate a space. They also work great on little easels placed around the home. 

Canvases

We know that this guide is long and hopefully it covers everything you need to know to prep for your portrait session. However if there is something we missed, or you need a recommendation feel free to email us. 

hello@lindsaywilsonphoto.com

Thank you!