For those of you that remember Olin Mills or JC Penny's to get your kids or family portraits taken, you remember the generic back drops, the cheesy poses and the inflexible packages you had to purchase if you wanted to get the good pictures.
Today’s photographers are much more flexible and will gear a photo package around you and your family. You don't have to go to the studio and have the same back drop and the same standard pictures as everyone else that came before and after you.
The first thing to consider is location. What are you interests? What are your hobbies. Do you have annual passes to Disneyland? Are you into motorcycles? You can pick a back drop that represents you and your family’s interests. The back drop can be as simple as a playground if you have young children. Another choice is a hiking trail that you frequently hike on. The location does not have to relate to a hobby you are interested in. There are many interesting locations in your area. Do a little research. Google earth has pictures of just about every place you can think of. If you want to have your portrait taken at a popular spot, like the beach, check with your photographer to see if special permits are required. Laguna Beach is a place that requires permits if the photographer is going to use any off-camera lighting or have a small crew with him or her. You can also ask your photographer for some recommendations.
The second thing to consider is what are you going to wear. Plan on at least two outfits. Maybe three if you have you young kids. Cloths can change the entire look of your portrait. If you want your family in same outfits, black and white are always the same color and it does not matter where you buy them. If you want to use another color, make sure they are from the same manufacture and you check the color before you buy them. Even cloths from the same manufactures can be slightly off if the material is from a different die lot. Different shades of the same color will stand out like a sore thumb.
The third thing to consider is hair and make-up. A hair and make-up artist can be worth their weight in gold and if you can afford to hire one for your photo shoot, it will make a difference. If you are like most us, you are doing your hair and make-up. Make sure you bring everything you need to touch up your hair and make-up at the photo shoot. While Photoshop is a great tool and can fix most things, it is much better to get it right in camera the first time. And the photographer may charge more to do extra touch up work on your pictures.
The fourth and last thing to consider is what you want to receive from your photographer. Everyone seems to just get digit pictures these days. Those are great to have. But how many of you actually get them printed? They end up on your cell phone, laptop and tablets. At some point you replace them all or they die and did you remember to back them up some place? I highly suggest that you include prints in your package. Pictures will last forever. They are great to pass down and look back on years from now. It is something you can add later, but you are more likely to get a better deal if you include them in the beginning.