Before each shoot, I send out a consult form asking you for more information about your family or senior. If filling this form out stresses you out, then skip to the bottom of this post and read what’s in bold type at the end. If you want to know how these details help me and also affect your pictures, then read on.
One important question on the form is “What do you want to remember about your family right now?” This one is the most likely to be neglected on the form, but it can be the most effective. It will help me look for things that are a normal dynamic in your family that you’ll want to remember. Here are some examples of how details about your family can help me snap a quick photo that I could otherwise miss. It doesn’t take much, the family featured here included about 4-5 short lines in answer to this question, but here is the result:
- I knew that this family wanted to remember the phase where their oldest was shorter than Dad but taller than Mom. So when Mom started adjusting her sons scarf all on her own, I took a few steps forward and zoomed in on the moment that really showed their height difference. See first picture.
- If there is a special bond between certain siblings, or with a pet, I can notice un-directed moments that happen all on their own to document the relationship as well as take a few portraits. Maybe you want to remember your child’s missing two front teeth or the color of their eyes? Every family is different, and only you know the answer to those questions. See pictures 2-4.
- One of the things this family wanted to remember was the example the oldest was setting for the younger siblings. I set them up to really make him look like the leader of the group in the last sibling picture. See last photo.
- Sometimes there may be big life events approaching for the family. Maybe a milestone age, or leaving for college, or one family member is home visiting for a short period of time, or maybe there are some medical concerns for a member of the family. I’m not including a picture of this one, but knowing that info ahead of time can help me be especially aware of all the interactions of that person.
One of the questions on my form is a request for the names, ages and interests of those being photographed? That question can help me so I can give direction without saying “You, the one in the gray sweater, yes you, could you turn towards the person to your left?” Knowing names ahead of time can help me a lot when giving direction. For the most part I can get everyones name down in the first 5 minutes if I’ve been able to look through and briefly study them ahead of time. There may be some of you reading this post laughing to yourself because I totally botched your names. It’s happened. If you had an extended family shoot, I probably didn’t know your names, OR, during busy season when I’m doing two families in a row each day and then shooting multiple days in a row, I’m not gonna lie, sometimes I mess up a lot. But either way, the list of names ahead of time really helps me out. Why do I care about what your kids are interested in? Well lets say I want to get a natural smile with each kid, but you have a couple of kids that are really holding onto that “say cheese” forced-smile. Asking them about subjects that interest them can really help ease them into a genuine smile. I can’t tell you how many times that has made the difference between a good vs. great picture. If I ask a 4-year-old to smile, they will do the best they can with a stranger holding a camera in their face. BUT, if I then ask that same 4-year-old (that I know is really into princesses from the form) who her favorite princess is, BINGO, a natural smile will likely spread across her face right before she starts telling me which one is her favorite. I have to be speedy, but it works.
I guarantee a certain number of images for each shoot, but if I have more to give, I give them. So if having a little extra info helps me capture a few more moments and genuine smiles for you, then you’ll definitely see the result. You could finish the form in LESS time than it took you to read this post. A few details can go a long way. Yes more info can be helpful, but I’m guessing about 40-50 percent of my clients will appreciate and relate to this last paragraph:
Does thinking about what info to write down in those sections of the form stress you out? Are you just happy to get all your kids schedules aligned to get your pictures taken? Maybe it’s life-as-usual and nothing stands out to you? You’re not alone, and that’s okay! I’ve been there and I can get you great pictures without extra details.
Utah Family Photographer
Salt Lake City, Utah