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Sand Dunes

"All the things"
Your photo session style guide

Let's talk about all the things! While I am pretty laid back in the flow of my photo sessions, my heart & soul takes the task of capturing your family seriously. Being a part of your family's legacy is a true honor I do not take for granted. I want you to get the most out of this investment. I want you to adore your images. I want the future generations to love these images and feel like they are right there in them too, tying your past generations to your future generations.

I've made this guide to share "all the things" that will help us achieve this together. Please don't let this guide overwhelm you, I hope you'll see a few small choices can create big impact in your final images. 

Let's pick the LOCATION & TIME 

LOCATION: 

The Central Coast really is full of the most beautiful landscape. We are not at a shortage of gorgeous spots. I work from Nipomo to San Luis Obispo, but am open to traveling for an added fee depending on location and availability. When choosing a location, try to envision where your family will be happiest and enjoy. Do you love the beach? Does your family love hiking or trails? Do you have a spot with special memories? Have you documented your favorite moments in your home?

I am always open to new locations, but if you want to check out some of my favorite spots to do sessions you can see examples here

Kid friendly spots: 

Picking a place where your kids can explore is a way to invite memory making into your photos. Busy locations with lots of people, cars, or tempting playgrounds can sometimes be overwhelming for your littles, and result in stress for you. 

Locations to consider for your smaller children are, big open air spaces where kids have space to roam, a session in their home, doing the activities they love to do or possibly the beach or an easier trail where we can all explore and snap photos along the way. 

Ultimately, you know your child best and where they will feel comfortable.  

TIME:

The ideal time for an outdoor session is during "golden hour"  The hour before sunset or immediately after sunrise. This is when the light is soft and flattering and has that warm glow.  

If we are doing a newborn session or doing an indoor session in your home, a bright midday light will work to make your windows provide natural light for your session. 

When life is more important than light:

Sometimes things overrule the perfect lighting schedule. Some common ones I run into are;

Kids: If you know your child turns into a special breed of crazy as the sun sets, then let's schedule a time with your kids are the happiest. Happy kids make for a much more fun session.

Weather/fog: May and June on the central coast can be fairly foggy at sunrise and sunset. Fog can be such a beautiful element in your images, and I am not opposed to taking your session in fog, but typically like to shoot a bit earlier than sunset to get enough light through the fog. 

Tide: If you're booking a specific beach location, high tide can affect the time of day we shoot. Check with me on your specific beach and we can check tides and times. 

Where are my early birds?

A lot of families look to book that sunset time slot, so they fill up quick. If you're early risers, the sunrise can provide the same soft light. I often prefer sunrise for beach sessions because the beach usually has less people, and the sand less footprints. If you have happy morning kids, shoot for the morning and end your session with donuts and coffee ;) 

What should we WEAR?

It's the question I get asked the most, so I've added some info to help you style yourself and your family for your upcoming session. 

Before we get into all the tips and tricks of what to wear, I want to preface all of this information by saying my main goal is for you to LOVE your photos and for the final gallery to "feel" like you. For me, your clothing choices should be timeless and be something you feel comfortable and beautiful in. I want your kids and future grandkids and great grandkids to see these images and feel as if there were right here in the moment. This doesn't happen if you don't look like yourself, or if you're styIed with the trends of the year that don't necessarily fit your personality.

 

If you admire my photography style and the colors you see in my work, then following the style guide will be helpful with picking and planning colors that are not only cohesive, but also timeless and photograph well to make the focus of your photos the most important element....your family!

Start with COLOR

Color is probably the easiest way you can enhance your images. There are definitely colors and tones that photograph better than others. I love to capture the color of the coast, so wearing muted neutrals and  soft shades help keep the focus on your family and puts you in harmony with your surrounding and not on bright outfits or contrasting colors. Check this guide for examples on what colors to choose.

While there are so many endless do's there are just a few don'ts to keep in mind to make your images more timeless: 

Avoid: Wearing bright bold colors, neon, or too many colors. Skip wearing a lot of black as it does not show as much depth and becomes more shapeless in images. Choose one or two colors, instead of a multi color pattern. My goal is for your family to see how stunning you are not the dress. 

style guide color pallate.png

The CLOTHING itself

For women: There is something so timeless about flowy dresses and skirts. They bring movement to images, and showcase a bit of beauty in motherhood. We tend to have breezy beaches, so a longer skirt or dress to allow movement without holding your dress down is ideal. So if you can...say yes to the dress for your photo session!

Showing skin can draw the eye. My personal preference is to choose one feature to flaunt when doing a family session.

For men: fitted pants, and a business casual vibe can really flatter and give the men a sophisticated look. Avoid bold patterns, graphics or big logos. Layering can add dimension. Don't forget the little things for the men, like colored socks, belts and shoes that are more than the Saturday yard work sneakers.

Let's talk TEXTURE

I LOVE texture in clothing for your photos. Think lace, seersucker, denim, linen, tulle, velor. These textures invite you into what it feels  like in the moment. These things are not bright in color, but can make solid colors more fun. 

Switch up the textures with each family member in the session. 

all TOGETHER now

Dressing the family can feel a bit daunting. Now that we've talked about color and texture. Start by dressing one person in your family (I usually suggest yourself) and then go from there, with coordinating everyone else. The idea is to coordinate your outfits, not to match them exactly. Start with 3 neutral colors that look like they could be cousins in the color family and add one or two muted accent colors from the same temperature family. See the color options above, let your neutrals start in the outer corners of the grid and your accent colors . If too many choices  of colors or pressure to pick colors overwhelms you, stick to all neutrals, minimal is beautiful, and makes the images about you. 

Some final touches to think about: bright nail polish, or statement jewelry pieces are so fun for everyday life but can be distracting in your images. 

Little girls wearing dresses? Add some bloomers or as we call it in our home "chonie covers" so your girl can play and spin freely. Leave the giant bows for fun events, they tend to distract and can shadow faces in your images. 

Need a little more assistance? Access my Style and Select to help you get ideas or purchase family outfits: Here

Prepping your kids for your session:

"Will you help us not be awkward?" :)  Not everyone is comfortable with a camera and potentially a stranger following them around with one, so here are some tips for your kids or maybe your husband to make your session feel more relaxed.

1. HAVE FUN! This really is my only rule. Let me watch your family have fun. I love movement and connection so I will invite you all to play games, race, snuggle and move and move and move. Let your little ones be themselves, because they really aren't good at faking their emotions. I would rather capture them as who they are, instead of a forced teethy smile. 

2. Let them know what we are doing and why? Involve them in this session. Is there an idea for a photo they specifically want? Great let's do it. Let them all be a part of the process. 

3. I am not opposed to bribery, and snacks! Pick something fun for when the session is done, or bring small snacks or treats to have as we go. (I recommend things that wont stain or cause messy faces, like fruit snacks or smarties!) 

4. DON'T WORRY! Kids are kids, I will definitely make it my goal to get you the shot of everyone smiling and looking at the camera but if you love my work you will notice most of the beautiful images are appreciating the season of life for what it is. Genuine emotions and moments that you will look back on and remember what those feelings are. Those in between real moments are why I do photography, they satisfy my soul, so let it be and trust me when I say I am not expecting your kids to behave in any certain way other than themselves. 

If you're relaxed, having fun and playing then they will feed off of that and follow along. 

Ready.... Set... Go...

Session Checklist!

  • Date, time and location are set! 

  • Sign agreement/pay deposit review questionnaire and style guide.

  • Outfits selected and fit (try them on if they are new!)

  • Pack a bag with:

    • snacks/ water/ treats/ favorite little toys ​

    • wipes for kids faces

    • touch up makeup

    • shoes for inbetween walking like flipflops for the beach

    • spare clothes/ towel (for beach sessions) so you can get wet but head home more comfortable. 

    • Final payment for your session.

After our time together you can expect your gallery to be delivered within 30 days. I will send you a link to access your gallery and from there you are welcome to download your images as many times and on as many devices as you like. If you would like you images sooner than the 30 days. (I do offer expedited editing and gallery delivery for a fee. Let me know what date you are needing your images by and I can give you a quote for that.) Your gallery will contain the high resolution fully edited digital images from your session, edited in color as well as black and white. There is also an online store linked to your gallery should you wish to purchase physical prints and items that give your photos life beyond the hard drive. 

Okay, now that I have given you all this to think about I want to remind that these are tips and tricks but not the end all be all to your photo session. The location and outfits are not as important as the moments your family are enjoying together. I am here to help you get the most out of your session, so please reach out to me if you have additional questions, or would like more guidance on styling your family or talking about locations. 

 

I can't wait to photograph your family and play a part in building your photo legacy. 

 

Gratefully, 

Lauren

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