In-Home Photography FAQ's | How to get your home ready for a photo session

How Hey friend! If you follow the blog at all, you know we've been chatting for a week or so about allllllllll your most burning questions about having an in-home family photography session. A week ago, we talked about choosing a photographer based on style, and demystified terms like "documentary family photography" and "lifestyle family photography" (so much Photographerese!). Friday, we talked about what to wear for an in-home family photography session.

Today's topic is two-fold; I'm answering these two at once because they're so closely related. They're all about your home and how to get it ready. Let's dive in, y'all! 

FAQ #3: My home isn't magazine-worthy - we actually LIVE here. How do I prepare it to be photographed?

First, let me say, the fact that you LIVE in your home is the whole entire reason we'll be shooting there. It's personal. It's the heart of who you are as a family. It's where everyone can let down their guard and be themselves, and THAT? That's beautiful.

Secondly, your kitchen isn't being photographed for Southern Living - it's the backdrop for the REAL photographs: the ones of your family breaking bread together, baking cookies, washing the baby in the kitchen sink. That's the real story, not the pristine hammered copper backsplash you wish you had.

Practically speaking, there is of course some preparation that goes into getting your home ready, but STOP RIGHT THERE and put down the paintbrush. Back away slowly with your hands where I can see them. I'm not talking about giving your home a full-on Chip and Joanna Gaines makeover. Prepping should take an hour at most. Here's what to prioritize:

  • Laundry - if you can't fold it and put it away (WHO HAS TIME, I ask you), just toss it into baskets and stick them in a room we won't be using. Shut the door and walk away; they'll be there later when you're ready to binge watch Grey's Anatomy and fold clothes.
  • Dishes - If we'll be in the kitchen, then make sure dishes are off the counters/out of the sink. I don't care where you put them (I've been known to pile mine into a laundry basket and hide them in the pantry -- but PLEASE don't tell my mother I told you that). If we won't be in the kitchen, then just make sure the dishes are out of all the other rooms and in the kitchen (this shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes; send one of your kids on an exploratory mission around the house to gather up the cups and plates and spoons they find and bring them to the sink).
  • Trash - make a quick scan around the house and make sure any trash is disposed of, and wastebaskets are empty and/or out of the way.

That's it. If you finish all of that and want to do a full-on spring cleaning, be my guest, but do NOT let it ruin your day. Also, you don't need to clean the WHOLE house, just the 2-3 spaces that have the best natural light (more on that in a minute). We will be sticking to those spots for most of our session.

FAQ #4: Where will we shoot? There are some not-so-pretty spots in my house.

Unless you want it otherwise, we'll keep our shooting areas to the 2-3 spaces in your home with the best natural light. To pinpoint those spots, turn off all the lights in your home around the same time of day that our session is scheduled (are we shooting at 10am? Do it at 10am) and notice which rooms are brightest without the lights. When I'm photographing in your home, I will most likely have the electric lights off to take advantage of the natural light coming in the windows. Natural light is much softer than direct electric light; it's diffused (especially if you have light colored walls or furniture) and soft and flattering, and has subtle glow to it. Lamps and overhead lights have a strong color cast to them (if you've ever taken a picture indoors at night you know what I mean; everything looks orange, doesn't it?), they throw unflattering shadows under your eyes, and they highlight any wrinkles or blemishes. If we're shooting solely in black and white, it can be fine, but better safe than sorry. Turn off the lights!

Once you've located the best light in your house, focus your energy on tidying those spots. But like I said - do NOT go overboard. It's ok to have toys on the floor - that's kind of your life right now, and there's something really beautiful about it.

There! You're all ready. No excuses.

Next up on Friday: how to make sure your kids and spouse cooperate. It's a good one, you don't want to miss it. 


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