some memories never leave your bones
like salt in the sea;
they become part of you
First off, Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your trust in me. It is an honor to create family memories for you. I'm so excited to be working with you, and I can't wait for our time together! Just think about the magic we can create together <3!
It's normal to be a little nervous about getting your portraits taken. Honestly, I still get the butterflies before having our family photos taken, too - and I do this for a living! I get it.
The topics I cover in this guide will help you get the very BEST out of our time together! I'll try to keep it short and as simple as possible because "simple" is our keyword!
Most of my beloved clients are attracted to my work's very specific and unique look, and hopefully, this describes you as well! I created this guide as a resource because I need your help to achieve this look for you. So I'd be grateful if you read the helpful tips here, and as always, please reach out if you have any questions at all!
Your Big Day
Are you ready for some good news? You don't need to do much! Besides outfit selection (which I cover in this guide), all I ask of you is to enjoy your experience. After all, the best part of appreciating the photos on your walls is knowing you had a fabulous time getting them taken.
I will keep an eye on the forecast the week before our outdoor session. It can change quickly... in either direction! If the forecast is sketchy, there is always a bit of a gamble with whatever choice I make, as the weather can change on a dime. However, I will try to make the best decision based on my professional experience and let you know if we need to reschedule (I will try to do this before you begin getting ready!). The most important thing to me is the lighting outside. We will need to reschedule even if it's not raining, but the clouds are too dark. Dark clouds make for unflattering shadows, and of course, the possibility of rain is no fun when you just spent so much time on everyone's hair! If this happens, we'll proceed with the backup date we chose upon first booking.
Gum, transition lenses and spray tans...
All of these are cool. Just... not so much when it comes to photos ;). Gum shows no matter how much you think it won't (hiding it behind your teeth can't last for every shot), transition lenses look like sunglasses (we want to see those beautiful peepers!) and even if a spray tan looks ammmazing in person, it really throws off the skin tones that I absolutely pride myself in capturing. Your natural skin color is the BEST!
If you wear glasses and have transition lenses, you can remove the glasses altogether for the photos, or if they are an integral part of your look, you can change them out for a pair with traditional lenses. I will try my best to minimize the glare so we can see those gorgeous eyes!
I kindly ask all dads to wear timeless watches and empty all pant pockets to free us of bulky hip and back areas. There is also no need to bring knives or other weapons. I promise you; this is a safe space, and weapons are not allowed in my house/studio or during my outdoor-sessions.
What if I don't know what to do?
I think most of us feel this way at heart. Luckily not only are my sessions extremely relaxed, but I guide you and your family into poses and give you prompts so you can have moments of genuine laughter and fun together. Often you won't even realize how amazing a moment is, and I sneak a photo (such as the example on the right).
I'm here to see the beauty in what seems like ordinary moments. It is one of the best and most fulfilling parts of my work.
Is there anything more gorgeous than a pregnant mother? Not in my opinion.
I love maternity sessions and want you to know that your comfort is my #1 priority. You are welcome to bring along your significant other and children to your session if you wish,... or we can focus on just you in all your gorgeousness!
For maternity sessions (as well as newborn sessions), I remain flexible in scheduling due to the unpredictable nature of delivery (I know I never delivered a baby on their due date!). Please don't worry a bit about that - I've got you covered. All you need to do is focus on taking it easy and making sure you get regular foot rubs, ok?
I prefer to photograph family beach sessions 15 minutes before sunrise or 1.5 hour before sunset! During this time we have the yummiest light and some sunrise/ sunset pictures, should the sun be out on this day.
Read this article: Family Memories With Your Okaloosa Island Photographer | 5 Tips
Do you want to add flowers for a milk bath/ session design (garland for wall or chair)?
Rose and Co Flowers in Miramar Beach | phone
Flowers From The Heart LLC | phone
Tips For Toddlers: Please make sure your baby has freshly washed hair and a clean face on session day.
Things to bring:
- two diapers (if possible no design)
- favorite lovey
- favorite (small) snack like Puffs
Cake (if cake smash is booked), also look here for cake inspiration:
White naked cake, six inches in diameter at the most and about up to six inches high. Ask your baker for a very small cake plate, so we can easily fit it on a high chair tray.
Vendors for smash cakes are:
Sweet Choice Bakery in Niceville | phone
Sugar & Heart Bakery in Miramar Beach | email
I prefer a white naked cake that we can decorate with yummy fruits. The cake smash part is optional, and so is a milk bath (for girls) and bubble bath (for boys) part of the session.
Wow... time just flew by, the baby was just born and now were celebrating their first birthday. And we do it big! From sweet one-year portraits with the whole family to a cake smash, we do it all! They only turn one once!
just a few things to keep in mind...
The Day Of your
For outdoor sessions: Please plan on arriving ten minutes before our start time, or even earlier if you plan on getting the kids dressed after you get there. It also gives you a little cushion in case you hit a snag. Unexpected things happen on photo day - hair doesn't cooperate, traffic gets crazy, you have to run back because you forgot something (or is all of this just me?).
If you allow yourself the extra time, you will be extra relaxed!
DON'T DISCIPLINE THE KIDS
For the time we have together, please don't worry a single bit about your child's behavior. Sometimes kids can sense that they are about to do something out of the norm (I mean, how often does your whole family get dressed up and head out to a field, am I right?), and they may act extra silly or start acting out. I understand you want them to be on their best behavior because I would feel the same with my kids! But in the spirit of just having a relaxing, fun experience (and getting good photos!), it works the best if disciplining pauses during the session. More often than not, it backfires anyway, and the grumpy faces stick around longer. I rarely see this, but I just wanted to plant a tiny seed that you don't have to worry about being "the bad guy" when we are together (hooray! Enjoy the vacation!). Trust me; I'm Mama to two. If anyone has empathy for you, it's ME ;).
I have a "bag of tricks" that usually works if a child is having challenges. I can also stop and walk with them (if they're old enough, talk, and ask them about their favorite stories, shows, or toys. Worst case scenario? They stay grumpy, and you will get some pretty entertaining photos. Some of my VERY favorite images are of myself sitting on a donkey with Santa Claus standing right next to me or sitting on a bench at a zoo at only six months old with a baby cougar hanging out on my lab. I cried both times so much the entire time., and I don't blame myself at all; both can be super scary ;). These photos are my favorite baby photos of myself EVER. .... do you see a theme here? ;)
So yeah, don't worry, mama. We will get some great photos done.
THE BIGGEST PIECE OF THE PIE
AKP Client Closet
Suppose you choose to use the AKP Client Closet for mom and children size four years and under; we probably set up a design appointment already. Yes, we have a whole session dedicated to just this topic. You will most likely come in or meet via video chat to play dress-up. You can lean back now and scroll on to "Wardrobe Tips", or if you haven't already, make your selection (mark them with a heart) of about 5 dresses you like from the link below. Make sure you sign in with the email address you gave me so I know this is you.
The use of the client closet is complimentary.
Baby Girls: One-piece rompers, and here are my reasons…. 1. They cover the diaper. 2. They do not ride up. 3. I like chunky baby legs
Baby Boys: Shorts, khakis, or jeans with a simple or no shirt.
Big Girls: If wearing a dress- Always choose a flowy dress over a straight dress so she can run, jump, and sit comfortably on the ground. WEAR BLOOMERS! Be sure dresses and shorts aren't too short. Be sure your girl likes what she is wearing and spaghetti straps won't keep sliding off.
Big Boys: Stay away from cargo shorts with messy pockets. Sleek shorts or long pants that we roll up for the cool-boy look work great, combined with a simple shirt with no crazy logos or big patterns.
Wear something you think you look cute in.
Wear something comfortable.
Wear something you would buy, even if not for a photo session.
If you are weird about your arms like me, then please wear sleeves!
The moral of the story is: Be yourself! 🙂
Dad: Same as mom & boys! Dads should not wear anything they don't want to wear. They need to be able to move around comfortably.
1. Wear Light Colors & Patterns
2. Wear something comfortable.
3. Make sure you can sit comfortably on the ground!
A few style tips:
I often tell clients this: Imagine you are out of college and have moved away from all your old friends. Your best friend from college is hosting a ten-year reunion party at a beach resort in the summer. No one has ever met your husband or kids; you want them to look cute but know they will run and play for hours. How would you dress them?
One of the analogies I use to describe photography is baking. (Yes, you read that right!) There are many photographers out there who have all kinds of different styles. It's like a bakery where you're choosing which cupcake you want. I am honored you are choosing mine! Here is your part of the recipe we need to make the exact flavor you have chosen. I have a specific style and strive to be consistent with my images to know what kind of photos you will be getting from your session (dreamy, light, airy, classic, timeless, and glowy).
Nothing wrong with that.
Want to wear your own things?
the "overall aesthetic"
Light colors and patterns
- THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON YOUR PHOTOS -
When the ladies wear dresses, it helps create that timeless look. I highly recommend maxi for mama! The floor-length flatters and adds to the beauty. When a slight breeze flutters by, it helps create motion in the photo. Wearing dresses is NOT an absolute must, but it helps make the aesthetic you often see in my work. If it's colder outside, I recommend bundling up for sure. Don't worry about wearing a dress if it's too cold!
Plain dresses in solid colors are perfect for little girls. You can also add texture with sweaters, boots, bows, etc.
Professional Hair and makeup is highly recommended, because it lasts longer than your typical hair & makeup done at home. I recommend going a shade or two darker with blush & lipstick than usual . I promise it'll photograph lighter. Faux lashes also go such a long way in portraits, and give you the wow effect in each and every picture.
My go-to hair and makeup artist is Emily with EMWmakeup. Hair and makeup application takes 1.5 hours, and the artist will spoil you at your home/ vacation rental. There is also a new blowout bar in Destin, which offers airbrush makeup & faux lashes (make sure they look natural) application (both go a long way in portrait photography).
Hair & Makeup
Anything neutral, light and/or NOT distracting, works! In the Summer, I love kiddos in bare feet if the terrain allows. As for babies who can't walk - if it's warm enough, let's see those cute toes! If it's cold out, neutral boots are adorable, or just about anything as long as it's not a bright color. If mom is wearing a maxi dress, often times we won't be able to see those shoes so no pressure there. When all is said and done, I just want to make sure the shoes don't attract too much attention. We want that attention going to your faces!
Shoes (or not)
I like to keep props clean and classic (aka: not too many banners, or things that make the photo cluttered).... remember, I like to keep the focus on the face! That being said, I love including a prop or two, especially if it is meaningful. For example, I LOVE LOVE LOVE floral bouquets, a beloved book, or a sentimental toy (just for some of the shots). If it's Christmas, bust out some candy canes! Little props that are simple and meaningful, can add some fun photos to a collage, and make for visual interest. If you DO bring a prop or two, please let me know before we start so I can incorporate them when the time is right in your session.
First off, this is just a suggestion and not the end of the world, but... clothing that is cream or ivory, photographs white. Clothing that is WHITE-white, photographs blue(ish)! Cream clothes are softer on skin tones and luckily easier than ever to find...(this hasn't always been the case!). So if you can, go with cream.
*The exception to this is if you are using a lot of grey in your clothing! Grey's and whites go better than Grey's and cream! Think cool tones vs. warm tones.
"White vs. Cream"
For the fellas, SIMPLICITY is the best bet! For shirts, I recommend henley and button-up dress shirts (rolled up to the elbows if the temperatures allow! It helps create a dressy, but not stuffy look).
For bottoms I highly recommend keeping them light. This can make a HUGE difference in the photo aesthetic. Khakis, tan pants or light grey will work. If you'd like to go the denim route, make them very light. I discourage dark pants because of the contrast it creates with other light colors. Your eye will go right to it!
*Adding layers and textures by way of blazers, suspenders, vests, etc. is always a good idea as long as the colors stay muted.
Keep it simple!
Undergarment: Nude, low-cut bra (strapless, if an off-shoulder dress is chosen) and undies with no designs work best. For some dresses (tight fit), some clients choose to wear no slip at all.
Nails: Manicured & pedicured, natural or painted in solid, natural colors (nudes, white or french manicured), no heavy nail design to keep your pictures timeless
Jewelry: Meaningful, dainty pieces and I recommend to stay away from current trends
Pets are welcome to be involved in your session! Keep in mind that bringing a pet along means that we’ll need to choose a pet-friendly location. Dogs are not allowed on most beaches along the Emerald Coast.
I recommend planning for your furry friend(s) to be at the first part of your session - I won’t use them in every single photo (unless that is what you prefer!), so it’s also nice to have a friend available to hold them in between shots.
If you’re going to bring a pet, I recommend exercising with them before the session and getting toys or treats! Depending on their fur type, it might also be a good idea to groom them before the session day.
What happens after the session
Ideally, you get back in the car/ your home or vacation rental and say, "Wow, did we really just take photos or just hang out?" Or "She was the best. Andrea for President." I will probably make you promise to go out for ice cream or make recommendations to my favorite restaurant nearby to continue the fun. (P.S. Your kids will sleep well that night, promise!)
On my end, I will come home, give my kid some hugs, and then start downloading your photos. I will need two weeks to properly go through the images, weed out multiples and blinks, and then edit them in my specific and unique style. Two weeks after your session date, I will send you an email with a link to my scheduler to set up your ordering appointment, where you will be able to view your photo proofs and make selections for your order!
If you optioned out of the ordering appointment, I send over a watermarked gallery (watermark can not be removed). The gallery remains open for two days for you to make your selection for your digital package, your favorite printed product or a combination of both.
And remember, I'm here to assist you every step of the way.
Some FINAL words
My greatest wish is that you, your children, and your grandchildren ADORE these photos forever. After all, your family is what life is ALL about, and one of my greatest joys is that I get to be a small, behind-the-scenes part of preserving your legacy.
I can't wait to work with you!
I hope this guide covers everything you need to know to prep for your session! If there is something I missed, or you need a recommendation, feel free to email me at email@example.com