Family Session Welcome Guide
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for choosing Leslie Crane Photography for your family portrait session! This guide will help you to plan for all aspects of your photo shoot.
I love everything about shooting family sessions. I love moments that are posed, candid, quiet, joyful... Family connections are so beautiful, and I adore capturing what is real, authentic and wonderful about you and your loved ones.
My photographs are known for their depth, richness, artistry, and clarity. I am extremely detail-oriented and I've worked very hard to be able to achieve technical excellence and genuine emotion in my work. Equally at home in the studio or on-location, I use light and color to tell the story of YOU. My sessions are a lot of fun - we’ll laugh (hard), I’ll fuss over you and bring out your best.
I am so excited to meet you!
When planning your session with me, take a moment to look through the family photos on my website and decide what “feel” you would like your session to have. If we haven’t yet chosen a location, ask yourself, “Do I like the textures of a field or natural environment? Do I like the feel of an urban location or the simplicity of the studio? Would I like some of each?” If the latter sounds like you, then you should know that right outside the door of my Chaska studio there are historic brick buildings, a white gazebo, the woods and the Minnesota River with nature trails, a field and a lake with a dock. We can get a lot of variety there. And while I love my studio and surrounding area, I also love to shoot in places that are special to people - the bridge where Mom and Dad got engaged, the front porch of your new house... (Note that some locations may require us to pay for a permit.)
I love to coordinate clothing with locations and backdrops, so I am happy to consult with you to plan the style and colors of your photographs. Later in this guide I will share tips and inspiration for what to wear, and what to expect during and after your session.
ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS
Your family photo session
WHERE WILL MY SESSION TAKE PLACE?
I know lots of great locations for photo shoots. You can choose whatever setting feels right to you - from studio to urban to natural, to anywhere in-between. At my studio in downtown Chaska, I can provide quite a bit of variety. In additon to the indoor space there are historic brick buildings, a beautiful white gazebo, the woods along the Minnesota river, a field, a lake and dock. If there is a place that is meaningful to you, like the lake, the farm, the orchard, or downtown, tell me. We’ll go there! (Note that some places require fees or permits for professional photography.)
HOW LONG WILL THE SESSION LAST?
Typically sessions last between one and two hours.
WHEN DO YOU SCHEDULE YOUR PORTRAIT SESSIONS?
I usually shoot weekends and evenings, and, if we’ll be shooting outdoors, most often in the last few hours before sunset for the best light. I occasionally do sessions in the morning, but greatly prefer evenings.
WHAT HAPPENS IF IT RAINS ON THE DAY OF OUR OUTDOOR SESSION? In the event of rain during a scheduled outdoor session we will either use an indoor location or reschedule for a different date (I build rain days into my shooting schedule). And a few times, I’ve actually shot IN the rain - so that’s an option, too, if it’s not pouring or storming out!
WHAT IF I NEED TO RESCHEDULE?
Not a problem. I know that people get sick, or emergencies arise. I appreciate 24 hours’ notice if you need to reschedule, and I will find another time for you.
I REALLY WANT THIS SESSION TO GO WELL. WHAT CAN I EXPECT DURING THE SHOOT AND WHAT DO YOU DO TO HELP US LOOK GREAT?
Sessions with me are fun and relaxed. I don‘t expect your kids (or you!) to perform for me, or to be perfect. I expect you to be natural and to be yourselves. Why? I want you to enjoy your session so when your look at your pictures you remember a lovely day together. I also want you to look forward to coming back! I will start with posed photographs of the whole family, and then we’ll do individual shots and family combinations. Then we may do some candids and other setups. I will help you with posing and give you plenty of feedback as we go. I’ll probably sing to the little ones (or any dads that need extra coaxing to smile...) and make up some games. If I need help getting a child to smile I will call upon you, and I will ask you to get yourself as close to my camera lens as possible to get good eye contact. I may also take a child aside if necessary.
HOW MANY PICTURES DO YOU TAKE? DO WE GET TO SEE THEM ALL?
I take many, many pictures. When I prepare your proofing gallery I narrow them down to the very best ones, at least 25. You will not see blinking shots, outtakes, unedited proofs, or 10 of the same shot. I carefully “polish the gems” when I edit and show you only my best work as a complete gallery - the full story from your session.
DO YOU DO RETOUCHING?
Yes, it’s included. In addition to my custom hand-edits, I remove blemishes, and do other types of retouching. More involved edits like braces removal will incur an extra charge.
What to wear
Here is some general advice for how to plan your outfits for your family photo shoot. For more specific direction with examples, click here.
Coordinate, rather than match. Start with one outfit you love and build the rest of the look from there. Pull colors from your inspiration piece or find other colors that compliment it and are in the same color intensity. For example, all medium shades, or all soft neutrals.
Stay away from bright neons - they don’t photograph well. And if possible, avoid stark white, and go for cream, instead.
Dress for the setting. In a field, I love casual, cozy looks in either cream and gray, or everyone in medium shades, or deep, rich, shades. For an urban setting, try deep, rich colors or gray and black, or something fun and vintage. In the studio I love really simple looks - soft creams, grays and tans, a solid, neutral tank... It is important to have everyone in the same color intensity so that the overall look flows together.
It’s also smart to consider the colors in your home, since that is where your photographs are likely to be displayed.
If you don’t consider yourself a fashion plate, then try something timeless. Flowing or smocked dresses, simple cable knit sweaters, pants with suspenders... I love timeless looks!
Layers for everyone. Layers add depth, interest, and color (as long as we don’t overdo it). Belts, vests, cardigans, scarves, necklaces, jackets, hats...
Wear what feels good! Maxi dresses look good on nearly every woman, as do a good fitting pant. Make sure you dress everyone in clothing that fits well. You really don’t need to buy things with “room to grow” - in fact, a little smaller is better than a little too big. Clothing that is baggy does not make people look good in pictures, but a well-fitting or even slightly small (but not skin-tight) piece will skim the body and be much more flattering.
Dress up your feet, too. I love boots in pictures, as well as nice dress shoes, cute sandals, or colorful deck shoes or top-siders. Barefoot is another great look.
If you need further family wardrobe inspiration, check out my Pinterest board with tons of family and child session clothing ideas.
Preparing for your session
Try to have the whole family rested before your session - that includes you, Mom! (I know, I am giving you a huge list of things to plan, do and pack. But still... plan in some rest time, too.) Make picture day a special day, and keep things relaxed before you come.
Hair should be clean and brushed and styled simply. Have haircuts done at least a week before your shoot.
Hands and nails should clean and trimmed - I love using hands in photographs!
Let me know if you’re bringing a pet. If your dog is coming along, make sure Sparky gets lots of exercise before the shoot. We’ll have a mellower pup that way.
Come ready to enjoy yourself. My sessions are pretty much as they look - relaxed, sweet, happy, and fun. Trust me - I promise to give you my best.
Bring easy-access snacks for a little break, if you think they will need it. I know kids get tired and hungry, or just need a little breather, so it’s great to have something on hand. It is nice to have bottled water or juice also. For little ones, bring clean up wipes, diapers or pull-ups, just in case you need them.
Bring a hairbrush for touchups.
Pack some extra clothes or layers, in case of spills or chills!
I usually carry bug spray with me for those mid-summer sessions, but if you have a preferred kind, bring it.
Don’t forget any props you want: a stuffed toy, a special book, a family quilt, anything that is special to your family. I love incorporating important things into my sessions.
A FEW MORE THINGS
Don’t worry about blemishes or breakouts. Everyone gets them (everyone!) and I am a good retoucher. It’s not an issue. Skip the spray tan (and the real tan!). It can look orange in photographs and you don’t need it. And tan lines are distracting!
Avoid extra-large bows on small-sized girls. They can overwhelm, as well as flop over eyes and get in the way. Small bows are cute, though, and so are hats! I don’t ever bring treats, candy or toys to reward cheerful cooperation from kids (or dads!). But YOU may!
Just show up ready to have fun and feel special. Bring your ideas, your thoughts, your personality, and don’t worry about a thing. It’s going to go great!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SESSION PROCESS
HOW FAR IN ADVANCE SHOULD I BOOK MY SESSION?
The earlier the better! I do book up quickly, so four to six weeks in advance during the busy season is ideal. Once in awhile I have an opening sooner than that, so it never hurts to ask... but I always recommend planning ahead to secure the date you want.
HOW DO I BOOK MY SESSION? It’s very simple - email or call me and we’ll choose a date. We will choose a location and design a session to fit you perfectly. You will be sent an online contract to e-sign and instructions for paying the session fee. All set!
WHEN IS PAYMENT DUE?
Your session fee is due at time of booking and payment for print, product and digital file orders is due when you place your order.
WHAT FORMS OF PAYMENT DO YOU ACCEPT?
Cash, Check, PayPal & Credit Cards. Minnesota state sales tax applies.
HOW SOON AFTER OUR SESSION WILL WE BE ABLETO SEE OUR PICTURES?
Sneak peeks - typically the next day. A password-protected online gallery of your images will be available within two weeks after your session. You will then be able to view your private online gallery and select your favorite images.
HOW LONG DO WE HAVE TO PLACE OUR ORDER?
Two weeks. When your proofs are ready, I will contact you right away to find out what two weeks would be best for you to make your decisions. Two weeks after the opening date you chose, the gallery will expire.
HOW DO WE ORDER OUR PICTURES?
You may place your order online within your proofing gallery. Or we can get together for an ordering session and I can show you samples and help you select exactly what you need. As soon as payment is made, I put your prints, albums, canvases and other products into production. Digital files will be made available for immediate direct download. Smaller print products can be shipped to you directly or you can pick them up. For larger, heavier items we will arrange for pickup.
HOW LONG DO YOU KEEP OUR IMAGES, AND CAN WE ORDER MORE LATER?
I will hang on to your images for at least a year from the date of your photo shoot. It’s usually longer than that, but I can only guarantee to archive your pictures for one year. Subsequent orders are welcome during that time - however, if no order was placed during the initial 2-week gallery window, then a $50 retrieval and re-upload fee will be charged for a late order. For a second order, there is no retrieval/re-upload fee.
DO I GET THE DIGITAL FILES? HOW ABOUT THE COPYRIGHT?
You get digital files if you buy them. Pricing for individual files and collections is linked below. Copyright for your digital images remains with me - you do not own the copyright nor do I transfer copyright. However, you DO get print rights! With every digital file purchase I provide a release form giving you permission to print your images, crop them, and post them online to your social media accounts and share them with friends and family. You may not alter them in any way other than cropping, as it is illegal to edit copyrighted material without permission from the work’s creator.
WHAT IS THE BEST METHOD FOR REACHING YOU?
I prefer email, because I like to keep a tangible record of everything we discuss regarding your session. Also, I occasionally respond to emails at times of day that aren’t really convenient for phone conversations! However, you are always welcome to call me to talk about any aspect of your session.
Have another question? Click the "contact" link above and ask me! I'll be happy to answer you right away.
Session fee: $200
The session fee includes one to two hours of shooting time, as well as a private online viewing gallery of at least twenty-five images.
The portrait session fee does not include prints or digital files.
To add a makeup artist/stylist: $150 to $200 per person. She will come right to your session, style you and stay for part of the session.
All products and digital files are available a la carte. Generally, clients budget anywhere from $700 - $1600 for their custom portraits.
The full pricing guide is here.
I am thrilled to be working with you, and promise to make this experience wonderful and fun for you and your family!