s i n c e  2 0 1 7

P I T T S B U R G H

good . true . beautiful

PLANNING YOUR

Family Session

choosing the perfect time, location,
outfit & more!

 

Welcome

A NOTE ABOUT THIS GUIDE

I’m so excited to be working with you and we can’t wait for our time together during your family session! It’s normal to be a little nervous about your session. I always tell people that I still get nervous before having our family photos taken – and I do this for a living!

 

Whether I’m capturing your sweet family or celebrating a special moment in your life, like a graduation, birthday, anniversary, or new baby, I’m so honored to help you create memories you’ll cherish for a lifetime.  

I’ve created this guide to help you get the most out of your photos, and by the time you’ve read through this guide, you’ll have all your questions answered and feel more than ready and prepared for your session. 

There is a lot to think about when it comes to planning a session, especially for a family with multiple moving parts!!! I totally get it! I am a mom of FOUR! 

So, since I get asked the same things over and over again, I thought it would be the most beneficial if I put together a guide that walks you through everything you need to know. 

I’ll cover what to wear, whether to bring, pets & how to manage them, location ideas, and more! Then, on the day of your session, your only job is to be yourself, laugh a lot, and let me create photos you’ll love forever.

– Kaitlyn

Kaitlyn Heacock Photography, wedding photographer in New Mexico.
engagement session

A NOTE TO

The Guys

I get it. Having your picture taken for 1-2 hours might not be in your top-10 favorite things to do during your downtime. And at first you might feel sort of awkward being in front of the camera. But I think you’ll find that by the end of the session, it’s a lot easier than you thought, and you even had a little fun! 

TIME & LIGHT

Is there a "good" time to take photos?

I’m a natural light specialist because I believe that natural light, from the sun and its reflections, creates photographs that feel fresh, timeless and truest to you. 

I begin all portraits sessions no sooner than two hours before the scheduled sunset, during the “golden hour,” when the light is the dreamiest. To get the most out of your session, please plan a buffer when getting ready so you can arrive a few minutes early to your session and be ready to start on time. 

I am only able to shoot when natural light is still in the sky, so I’ll want to take advantage of every minute we have together before the sun goes down. 

 

 

Kaitlyn Heacock Photography, wedding photographer in New Mexico.

Seasons

While I shoot most of my family  sessions between March and late November, sessions can take place all year. Most of my families choose a season based on the location where they want to shoot.

A few things to keep in mind during each season: 

Locations

Albuquerque and santa fe Family LOCATIONS

I love when families choose a location for their session that complements their family story. For example, if you love cities and towns, it may be fitting to take your family portraits among the classic architecture in Pittsburgh, downtown Steubenville or another small town, while a local park or flower-filled fields or farm may be more fitting for a large family with little kids who love to run! The best session locations are often meaningful places to the family; however, I’m also happy to make recommendations. From ski slopes to lavender fields to apple picking and college campuses, the options for engagement session locations are endless!  

CLASSIC & ELEGANT

Mellon Park
Hartwood Acres
The Frick
Heinz Chapel 

Carnegie Museum
Washington’s Landing

near water & TREES

Fort Duquesne Bridge
Streams
Morraine State Park

URBAN

Downtown Pittsburgh
Steubenville
PNC Park Area
Mexican War Streets

WOODLANDS

Morraine State Park
McConnells Mill State Park
Raccoon Creek State Park 

RUSTIC

A vineyard
A sunflower field
Farm
Other flower fields or open space

ADVENTURE

Hiking 
Farm 

the above locations are all beautiful but I also love exploring meaningful locations with my clients!

engagement session

Pets

Keep in mind that bringing a pet along often means that we’ll need to choose a pet friendly location. 

I recommend planning for your pet to be at the first part of your session and then either dropping them off or having a friend take them home. I won’t use the pet in every single photo so it’s also nice to have a friend available to hold him or her in between shots. 

If you’re going to bring a pet, I recommend exercising your pet before the session and bringing your pets favorite toy or treats! Depending on your pet’s fur type, it might also be a good idea to groom them before the shoot. 

Outfits

TIPS FOR LOOKING YOUR BEST & Coordinating the crew

When picking outfits I recommend keeping in mind the words “complement” and “coordinate,” rather than “match.”  This will create more visual interest, and allow each personality to shine through. 

The goal for coordinating a family is to visually break up the colors and shades so that you’re not all wearing the same color on top and bottom. The more I can mix that up, the better. I encourage you to think about planning each outfit with “dominant colors” and “accent colors” in mind. A dominant color is the color that you see the most in an outfit, while an accent has a smaller piece of visual real estate. When you’re planning each family member’s outfit, if you can aim for each person to have a different dominant color, and then tie in and vary the accent colors, it’s going to look great all together. 

For example, if you’re wearing a blush dress, soft blue earrings and nude heels (blush being your dominant color), then he could wear a navy coat with a white button-down and gray pants, paired with brown leather shoes and maybe even a blush pocket square (making navy his dominant color). Your daughter could wear a soft blue top with a white tulle skirt (making a soft blue her dominant color) while your son weirs light beige pants and a white button down (making white his dominant color).  Now each person has their own dominant color while still incorporating a few touches of the other that will pull all the looks together. This will break up the color visually and highlight each personality.   

catholic family photographs

Indoor Lifestyle Newborn Tips

Moms, choose your outfits first!  I know this is counter-intuitive to most of us, but doing this helps you visualize how everyone else will compliment and coordinate together. Once you have your outfit(s) picked out, you can build everyone else’s so that it fits together perfectly. 

Neutrals, whites, creams, grey, and pastel colors photograph beautifully for the whole crew. 

Natural light near a window is a MUST-have. 

Photographing your baby in the best lit room is key, but it’s also nice to get some shots in the master bedroom also, and possibly outdoors!  

Kaitlyn Heacock Photography, wedding photographer in New Mexico.

Inclement Weather

what to do if it rains

I’ll check in the week of your family session to confirm the time & location we’re meeting and the weather. I know it takes a lot of time to get ready for your family session and it’s the worst to get dressed up and drive out to your session only to have it rain. Let me know what works best for your crew – but if the weather looks like it won’t be great, I typically try to make the call at least 2 hours in advance. 

Kaitlyn Heacock Photography, wedding photographer in New Mexico.

Prepping Your Little Ones

Before your session, pack a bag with snacks, water, and any small objects (like very small toys or lollipops) that might help me get their attention when it’s time for them to look at the camera. If they are old enough to understand you, it’s a good idea to prepare them for what’s to come before the session starts. Explain how much the photos mean to you so they know to be on their best behavior. A lot of families discuss and pick something fun in advance as a treat after the session if they’re good listeners, like an ice cream cone, for example. It also helps if their bellies are full and they’ve had some good rest beforehand. Once you prepare them physically and mentally, then feel free to give them grace! They’re little and I know that some days don’t always go as planned. I have very young children too, and I’ve seen it all. I will make sure to get you great photos, regardless of their moods!! 

Props

extra love is always a good idea

 

If you’re planning to bring props to your family session, I recommend including them only if they’re meaningful to you and your family! 

Typically for family sessions, especially if it’s seasonal, I might bring a banner like the one pictured to the right, a wreath, a festive blanket, or a sitting crate for little kids. 

It depends on the location and what might flow best, as well as what you’re looking for! 

Kaitlyn Heacock Photography, wedding photographer in New Mexico.

POSING

"What do I do with my hands"?

When it comes to posing for your family session, you don’t need to worry about a thing! I’ll guide you through the entire process beginning with “poses” that are super easy and natural. If I tell you to do something that feels a little funny, it’s probably because I know it’s going to make you all laugh – and that’s the photo we’re actually looking for! 

Throughout your session, I’ll keep an eye on mom’s hair, makeup and everyone’s outfits to make sure things stay in place. I will definitely try my best to entertain your kids! If you have young children who just won’t sit still or cooperate, we might move on to photos of just mom and dad.  This way, the kids can watch and understand what exactly is expected of them. 

Bottom line: I want you to feel as relaxed as possible and enjoy your time together! 

When to Expect Your Images

As soon as possible after your session is complete, I begin to curate your images and aim to provide you with a sneak peak online within 24-48 hours. You can expect to receive your family photos between 2 and 3 weeks after your session. 

Kaitlyn Heacock Photography, wedding photographer in New Mexico.

THANK YOU!

I know that this guide is long and hopefully it covers everything you need to know to prep for your family session! I created this guide to help make your portrait session experience something you’ll look back fondly on for years and years to come.  At the end of the day, though, your future memories are the most important think to me, and I want your session to be a time for you all to just be yourselves and ENJOY your time together! I will take care of the rest!

 

Happy Planning!

Scroll to Top