Develop Your In-Home Session Flow
Let parents know tips and what will happen during the session. When you arrive you know you let your clients know you'll be walking around to peek at their house. The first thing I do is I say, "Okay I'm gonna go run around your house a little bit." You know, I get to know the kids, mom's still getting ready. I'm gonna go kinda check out the light with the kids. I'll be like, "Hey Sally-Sue! Can you take me to see your room? Can you take me to see the kitchen?" Little do they know I'm really looking at the light. But I'm also getting to know them at the same time. Okay "Go show me your favorite room, you know, unicorn in your room." So you can kind of do this do it at the same time. Let them know that you will be directing everything. So they don't need to worry about filling dead space, okay? Dead space, besides sometimes we just need some dead space, right? Everybody needs to re-group, it's fine. Mom can go touch her make-up up if she wants to whatever. Chilling for a minute is fine.
We don't have to be constantly moving. It's and I always tell clients, "Don't look at me. Ever. Unless I tell you to. Ever" So I want them connecting with each other, not with me unless I tell you to. And I'll tell people to. I'll do Peek-a-Boo I'll do the 1-2-3 trick that we did earlier in the studio in that session earlier. But I do not want clients looking at me because they always feel forced to. What ends up happening and this happened the other day is everybody's interacting and engaging and here's dad like staring at the camera. So you have to tell everybody, "Don't look at me unless I tell you to look at me." 'Cause they'll all be interacting and you'll have one goofball you know smiling and that looks so weird. Like, you don't wanna do that. I'll purposefully tell people to look at me 'kay? Anybody have any questions about that?
I have a question about the lighting. Would you suggest maybe parents sending you photos of the rooms beforehand so you can kind of get an idea of the light or the clutter and make suggestions
Yeah we sometimes do based on rooms, yeah
We sometimes do
A lot of times they'll text me pictures. They text me while they're outfit shopping [Laughs] So, you know, it depends on the client. If I have a client that's specifically concerned about lighting in their home during booking like they're really really concerned sometimes I'll make a drive out there. Just to make 'em, to make sure. 'Cause there are some homes that legitimately are dark and might not be the best home, you know? Everybody wants to make it work all the time but sometimes you just have to let it go and it might not be the right situation. You have to be okay at telling people that too, you know. You have to be okay with saying no. And that's hard, you know, for newer photographers especially. But there's a lot of clients that I'll be like, "You know I don't think that this is gonna be the best situation, however, let's take everything your family loves to do and take it downtown, okay?" Or take it into the studio if they want to. Or we'll pick a really fun location that's special to them. Go in an ice cream shop, okay? Let's all go to a cupcake shop, you know do something fun. We can still get lifestyley life inspired pictures outside their home. Shot List, okay. Here is my Shot List. Each child I want to make sure I get each child by themself, okay? I wanna get all of the kids together obviously that's the goal and I tell parents there are some kids there are some as we know we just cannot, I've bribed before poor Kenny I'll be in the background, "We're gonna buy your kid a puppy like we're gonna buy a puppy!" And the parents are like, "Hun, just, it's okay." Like we get in there, you know, we do anything we can to get those kids to sit together. But because we know the parents want that, right. But if we set those expectations to the parent ahead of times, "Look if you have kids that just aren't fans of each other we are gonna do our best to get them engaged in an activity where they're connected with each other but you might not get the shot of everybody looking." And if you tell them that before the session happens you feel better, they feel better. You know, 'cause I think part of the time parents think that we're trying to get that shot when they didn't really care. So you need to have all of those expectations set before you get in there, okay. Family shot, Dad with kids, Mom with kids, once you've gotten all these go to town, go play. That's when you get crazy, pull out your wide angles, go up go down. A lot of times I'll be like, "Hey pick a kid" and then we'll go play. You know, 'cause we've got all the standard ones done. Some kids need to go take a break grab the other kid. You can grab whoever's in front of you. 'Cause we've gotten all of the standard shots done, okay? All right session flow. This is where it's really important to get to know the kids in the beginning. Because it keeps your flow going 'cause they trust you. They kinda feel like you're friends. Take the kids away again, let the parents finish getting ready, get your standard shots done and then be flexible, okay? It just it's really important for your clients to feel relaxed if the kids feel more comfortable with you. So that's why it's so important to me to get to know the kids at the beginning of that session, okay? So that's step one. Siblings, okay, have each child get a photo in their rooms if you can. There are gonna be some kid rooms that have complete Darkout shades that can't be moved. I try to make sure that that's talked about ahead of time. It never fails there'll be a room that's just too dark, you know. There's only so many, you know, room space, different directions. And if we're in a North facing house but the child has a room on the West side but we've picked the morning. It just, you know, that happens. You can't accommodate every single room. And that's why it's so important to make sure that you plan the activities that they want the most around the lighting. We talked about that a little bit earlier. If they really really want his room you need to really make sure that you talk about the direction of that room. 'Cause you don't want to get there and have the room be pitch black. Have each child get a photo in their rooms, allow the siblings to be together, let 'em interact. Just put 'em in there see what they do. Sometimes they won't do anything and they'll stare at you. So you can just give 'em a toy, right? Get a dollhouse out. Give 'em some books. Have 'em read to each other. Read to their dolls. Have the dolls beat each other up. Do something, you know? However siblings naturally interact, do it okay? Step out of the room. Step into the room. Go close to them. All of those different perspectives, okay? Sometimes depending, let's see. So letting go of the plans gonna help you out a ton. So if they're not working well in there, put 'em into the other bedroom, right? That's fine just be flexible, 'kay? Okay so help them engage each other naturally. Let them know it's okay not to look at the camera. With the family this is huge like we talked about. Let them have fun. We'll go on, we're gonna go onto how to compose all this in a minute. But let these people have fun. We were playing Peek-A-Boo behind the sheers and it was so cute and that room over here on the bottom. It was so dark in there but the back lighting was so pretty. So the reason we did this a lot of people are gonna wanna put people right in front of a window with back lighting. But if you don't have any bounce if you're not using a flector or a reflector which tends to kind of blind people anyways. You're not gonna see their eyes very well. So whenever I have back lighting situations I always turn my subjects because then you're not worried about their facial like their eyes and stuff. And that's really easy to do with families especially. So they can look at each other. So not only are you getting interaction, you're getting a beautiful back lit shot and you're getting, it's just you know, it's a whole bunch of things at once. So make sure that you tackle the best of everything that was kind of lightly planned in your session with the families. Families are hard I mean, parents are hard, dads are hard. It's hard to get everybody positioned correctly. But as long as they're kind of in that same focal plane I'll have a kid probably get elevated on shoulders. Somebody'll be snuggling a kid. I'll be like, "Okay ready set let's tickle Joey. Right and everybody look at Joey, let's tickle Joey." And then while that's happening I'm gonna be like, "Joey Joey." 'Cause I want him to look at me. So everybody's looking at Joey and Joey's looking at me, okay? So that was the one time that I got somebody to look at me. And without it's always happens, Dad will look at me too when Joey looks. Dad's always look I don't know why. It's kind of funny. Maybe 'cause we do all the planning with moms. We need to tell moms tell dad, right? But that's how I get families to engage. We kind of pick one of the family members to engage with and then let the families naturally interact. Session Flow 'kay pets. Now as you all know I'm obsessed with pets and pictures. And pets with the younger families were typically there first right so the pets are kind of like a child. So don't forget the pet. No matter who it is. Dog, cat, I put Fido. That's kind of biased towards dogs but. Grab a fisheye, grab a wide angle. This was my wide angle lens. It distorted it and it made it fun, right? They're playing in the background. Befriend the dog, like the dog's your friends too. Have those treats with you, you know. And you're gonna see in just a minute the live video of me interacting with this dog. It was so funny, the dog was on the bed and kept charging me 'cause it kept wanting to lick my face. So you know how I shoot I go "Click click click click click." So it's like "ch ch ch ch ch" and I have this dog coming. It's really funny so don't go anywhere 'cause it's pretty funny. Befriend the dog so come up with activities to engage the pets. Now the biggest tip of advice I can give you with pets is do the pet scenes on the bed. And a lot of parents say, "We don't let the dog in the bed." I'm like, "'Kay but you're going to today." So they do and what we'll do is if they don't want to get their comforter dirty we'll just put a different sheet on or something. We had a client that this happened to and she's been texting me this past year. The dog will never leave the bed now. But we got the shot so. Just be in control. Be okay with telling your clients, "Well if you want that picture we're gonna have to do it, 'kay?"