November 19, 2019

Tips for a Totally Awesome In-Home Family Photo Session | Pittsburgh Photographer

In-home Sessions, Family Photos

In-home photo sessions are the coolest. I just love how photographing in the home infuses the session with the family's personality and uniqueness! Clients often tell me they are nervous about having the session in their home, but its a great option, especially if you are having a session in the colder weather months. I thought I would share some of my tip-top top tips (see what I did there, ha) for having a fun, stress-free photo session in your home!

But first, a fun fact: Did you know the mama in these photos was just elected to her local school board!? She's so badass!

Tip 1: Don't go crazy cleaning your home.

I’m going to be honest. For me, just the thought of bathing and dressing one or more messy, wiggly, uncooperative small humans makes me feel exhausted and overwhelmed. Add to that the idea of making my house clean, too… And I just can't.

  • Your home doesn't need to be spotless. Really! Just tidy up or de-clutter 1-3 spaces in your home that have good natural light. We did almost all of this session in the family's (gorgeously newly remodeled!) kitchen and on their front porch. I also spotted a beautiful wall-papered accent wall in their staircase landing, and took advantage of that gorgeousness. Easy peasy!
  • People don't believe me when I say this, but stuff like pet hair and dust will not show up in your photos. And I sure as hell won't tell anyone!
  • It doesn’t matter how big or expensive or well-decorated your house is or isn't. All homes have a story and all homes protect, shelter and care for their inhabitants. And that, is beautiful and worth celebrating.

Tip 2: Be flexible with your kids and HAVE FUN.

If you have kids, you probably already know that they sometimes have their own plans, and flexibility is often the key to a successful adventure with them. Family photos are no different. Embrace the spilled milk, short attention spans, and youthful exuberance. The portraits I love to create aren’t about perfection or great posture or perfect smiles. They’re about this awesome, fleeting moment in your life.

Kids are often shy when I first arrive, but open up as they get more comfortable. Don’t worry if they aren’t taking directions, on their best behavior or smiling. We’ll get there. I want them to smile because they feel like smiling, not because someone said “Say cheese”. If they feel happy and relaxed, their little personalities shine through in the photos. We’ll get the more "posed" photos when the moment is right, and in the meantime we’ll get the candid, and truly authentic photos that you’ll treasure forever.

Tip 3: Don't underestimate the importance of natural light.

Light is the most important element in a good photograph. That’s all there is to it. The perfect pose, the perfect outfit, the perfect backdrop, the perfect moment, none of it matters if the light is poor.

In-home sessions can be a little challenging because I usually am walking into a space that I have never seen before and I need to work with whatever light you have in your home. I have bucket-loads less control than I do in an outdoor session. Buckets-loads, I tell you. It’s totally cool. I love a challenge.

So when I first arrive at a client’s home, I ask for a quick tour of areas they’d be comfortable using. I assess the light and background and make some recommendations on what I think will work best. I might ask you if I can turn furniture to face a window, or suggest a spot that isn’t your fave, in order to get some great window light. If you’re flexible about where in your home we work, I can always find beautifully lit areas.

Tip 4: Do consider the bedrooms.

  • Clients often instinctively suggest a more formal or communal spot, like the living room or a sitting room. We definitely can and will take some photos there, but some of my favorite images are often in the more personal, comfortable spaces in my client’s homes.
  • Kids’ rooms usually ooze with yours and your kids’ personality, and master bedrooms are great as well. Kids looooveee playing and cuddling on the master bed, and it’s a great opportunity to get some awesome shots of the whole family. Plus, bedrooms often have surprisingly good light! Especially in old Pittsburgh homes, your first floor is often shaded by your porch, or the neighbor’s house, or trees in your yard. But your upstairs bedrooms are often unscathed by those things.

Tip 5: Do consider your outside spaces

We can always take photos on your porch or in your front or back yard. Even if it’s cold out, it’s usually no big deal to sneak outside for a few minutes without getting all bundled up.

Tip 6: Do plan an activity

Like a chill activity. It doesn’t have to be a complicated activity. This is optional, but a great way to get beautiful candid photos is by planning something to do. Choose activities that your family genuinely e enjoys and feel natural to your family. Some ideas:

  • Read your kids’ favorite book
  • Making cookies
  • Play a board game your family loves
  • Bathe your new baby in the sink
  • Make coffee, or share a cup of coffee with your partner
  • Do an art project
  • Cook breakfast together
  • Play in the sprinklers
  • Have a pillow fight
  • Dance party in the living room
  • Kids’ bath time
  • Snuggles on the couch or in bed
  • Visit your favorite local spot. Like a coffeeshop, bakery or farmers market
  • Build a blanket fort
  • Make some hot chocolate with your kids

And lastly,

Tip 7: Do makeout in your kitchen.

Just do it. You won't regret it.