Planning your next family photos session? Avoid these six mistakes parents make before their photo session in NJ. (Note: none of the parents pictured in the photos in this article made any of these six mistakes!)
As a working mom, I know how hard it can be to avoid this one mistake. Most of us have hectic lives. Our kids often participate in camps, sports or other activities so it can be tempting to cram a lot into a weekend. But if you’ve booked a sunset session with toddlers or school-aged children, I strongly recommend keeping your day as low-key as possible. Try to keep as close to your usual schedule as possible. Definitely don’t plan a day at the beach or amusement park and then expect to be able to rush home and get ready for family photos and have happy kids. Instead, consider making your photo session something to look forward to. Bring along an activity you can engage in during your session (such as a book to look at with your toddler). Many of my families plan to go out for ice cream afterwards or go home and make ice cream sundaes, which gives kids a little incentive.
This may be the number one mistake parents make and is especially relevant for early spring and late Autumn sessions. I can’t stress enough how important it is that your kids are dressed comfortably for the weather. If you want your kids to be joyful and happy, make sure they feel comfortable in their clothing. Trust me, kids who are cold or uncomfortable will be cranky and uncooperative. Since the weather can be unpredictable in spring and fall in New Jersey, I recommend dressing in layers. It’s also a good idea to plan a back-up outfit. If it’s 45 degrees out, please don’t dress your daughter in a sleeveless dress if you want your session to go well. Instead, add a coordinating cardigan or shawl. And, if you booked a session in November, I recommend investing in a nice wool coat for your child. It’s much easier to remove extra layers during your session than it is to warm up once you’re freezing.
We all know that a hungry child does not make for a happy and joyful child. Since sessions are typically scheduled early evening before sunset, I suggest feeding your children before your session. It’s always a good idea to bring along water and quick and non-messy snack too. Avoid anything that would stain your child’s hands or face or get stuck in her teeth for photos.
Clothing choices are among the most important decisions you’ll make that will directly impact how much you love your images. That’s one reason why we spend time during the pre-session consult talking about what to wear. I’ve created several go-to resources that I’ll share with you to help you look your best. I’ll help you choose colors and share all my tips for what to wear and where to shop when we chat about your session. But, it’s important that you plan clothing for everyone in the family well in advance of your session date, and have options for different weather scenarios. This includes making sure that outfits and shoes fit well before your session. You don’t want to discover the night before your session that little Jack’s outfit is too small or that your daughter’s shoes are too tight.
If your child naps regularly, it’s best to make sure you don’t make mistake number one above by jamming too much into the day and skipping nap time. I can’t stress enough how important it is that your baby and toddler is well-rested so please don’t wake him up early from a nap. Chances are, he may feel cranky or unhappy if you do.
Keep in mind that summer and early fall sunset sessions start later in the evening, approximately two hours before sunset. If that means you’ll need to keep your child up past bedtime, I suggest either planning an extra nap for that day, or considering a late autumn session, which would start around 4 pm.
This is a biggie, and probably one of the hardest mistakes to avoid. You’re investing a lot in this session–time, effort and money. You want it to be perfect. I get it; I’ve had professional photo sessions too. The problem is, perfect isn’t realistic or usually even real life. But that’s ok. Remember, you hired me because I’m a photographer with a gift for finding, seeing and capturing the beauty that exists in your family.
I hope you found my tips for avoiding common mistakes parents make before their photo session in NJ, and I’d love to hear from you the comments below!
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Winner of the Westfield Area Most Loved Family Photographer award by Hulafrog two years in a row, Debbie Camba Photography is a New Jersey Family Photographer based in Scotch Plains. She specializes in capturing candid and meaningful moments that reflect the love and wonder of childhood and family life.
In 2022, Debbie was awarded a Master Photographer Certification by the National Association of Professional Child Photographers (NAPCP) for demonstrating excellence in the craft of child and family photography.
She photographs outdoors and in homes throughout Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Westfield, Mountainside, Cranford, Summit, Madison and the surrounding area, including Basking Ridge and Bernardsville, as well as Morris County and Middlesex County. She is available in other locations upon request.