One of the first things we’ll discuss when setting up your session is whether you prefer a more traditional outdoor session or a more documentary style in-home session. The feel and flow of each of these types of sessions can be different, so here is an overview of what you can expect for each.
Outdoor sessions take advantage of some of the beautiful locations around central Massachusetts. There is such a variety of location types and even those change with the seasons- flowering trees in Spring, rolling green hills in Summer, pine forests, and stunning colorful leaves in Fall. I have some specific locations I can recommend but my favorite is Sibley Farm in Spencer. It’s convenient if you are borrowing from my client closet down the street, but it’s also very quiet, and often during sessions there isn’t even another person there. It has a variety of backdrop options from fields to forest and potential on the Rt9 side for silhouettes. You can see more and get directions here: http://carissalyn.com/sibley-farm/.
I shoot outdoor sessions at “golden hour” whenever possible. This is in the hour before sunset, and when the light is the most beautiful and flattering. The hour after sunrise will be comparable if you are a morning family! If we can’t shoot at either of those times for any reason, we will discuss it beforehand to make sure to find locations that will work in daytime light.
Outdoor sessions follow a sort of circular pattern. Depending on how long the session is, we’ll usually stop at a few spots throughout the location- that might mean on a open hill, among some trees, sitting on a rock, sitting on a blanket. We’ll work our way around until we end up back where we started.
My philosophy about family photo sessions is a combination of posed and candid. I will help move you into certain positions at the spot we’re at, but then encourage your family to interact within that position- tickle each other, kiss, hug, whisper something funny in someone’s ear (it can be good to come with some ideas!)- or I may ask you questions like what you enjoy doing, tell me a funny family story, how you met. I will sometimes have you stop and do some “smile at the camera” photos, then go back into having fun. This tends to work the best with kids: it can be tough to ask kids- especially toddlers- to sit and smile when they just want to have fun!
The younger the kids are the more we will focus on moving around. Toddlers might like to be chased, tossed in the air, hugged and tickled. If they are asked too much to sit still and smile for the camera, they get more upset, and once they get upset it can cause stress on the whole family (I have a toddler, ask me how I know this 😉 ). If you focus on making sure *they* are having fun, you’ll get real genuine smiles and happiness, and those are the photos that will mean the most to you many years later.
In-home sessions are lifestyle sessions. What is a lifestyle session exactly? It is not a full documentary style- you don’t need to completely pretend I am not there- but the focus is more on your family and interaction, and less on posing and smiling at the camera. When we set up your session we’ll talk about your family- what you enjoy doing together, what sort of things you want to remember about this time period, how your house is set up, which rooms you would like to shoot in, if you have pets you’d like to include- and anything else you think I should know.
You should prepare your home as much as possible. It does not need to be spotless (believe me I know how daunting that can be, especially with kids!). However, you should try to remove clutter as much as possible from areas we’ll be using, just so it isn’t a distraction. This doesn’t mean putting away every toy you own, but it may mean putting all those clothes on the chair in your bedroom (we all have that chair, right?) in the closet, setting up your child’s crib with a blanket and removing excess stuffed animals, and making sure your counters and tables are cleared as much as possible.
If you are comfortable with it, there is potential with most rooms in your home. Bedrooms often have great light, and especially for newborns, cuddling together on the bed can be a lovely image. We take so much time to set up our childrens’ room and nurseries, so this is an excellent chance to document these and show them off! Kitchens can be fun for bathing babies in the sink, making cookies, or just having a snack. And living rooms are a natural gathering place where you can all relax.
The goal for these sessions is for you to be able to relax as much as possible. You should focus on enjoying your family and having fun, or even getting to know your newborn. If your baby is fussy, then you comforting your baby becomes a beautiful part of your photos. Feeding your baby isn’t a problem either- those are priceless images! If your toddler has a tantrum, well, that’s certainly a part of life. But if they’re home and comfortable and not being asked to sit and pose they’re much more likely to have fun with you as well! I will direct you into certain scenarios or the best available light if needed, but I do try to stay hands off as much as possible.