Preparing for your Family Photoshoot

If you have kids, one of your biggest worries might be how the kids behave during a family photoshoot!  We all try to get a great family photo on our phone and inevitably someone wont look at the camera, someone closes their eyes at the wrong time or a child gets distracted or starts crying!  So, when we’re paying someone else to take our photograph – we want to make sure that it’s perfect!

Firstly – let me clue you in on a little secret – no family is perfect!  No family is picture perfect! The best photos are when the true personality and character of your family shines through, and that doesn’t always mean that everyone needs to be smiling perfectly and looking straight at the camera.

So how do you best prepare your family (and your kids especially) for a photoshoot?  You should let them know that someone is going to take photos of them and the whole family and that the photoshoot will be heaps of fun.  I don’t recommend telling them that they HAVE to smile and that they HAVE to behave or over-stressing the importance of the photoshoot.  That puts a lot of pressure on a child and I find when parents have made a big deal about how much they want the child to behave because the photoshoot is ‘really important’, that’s when they play up.

What should we wear?  The biggest recommendation I can give with regards to outfit choices, is to choose clothes that are appropriate to the location and that you are comfortable in.  Your outfits don’t need to be ‘matchy-matchy’.  You don’t have to all wear the same colour shirts. 

BUT, I do recommend that you try and ‘coordinate’ your colours, so that you’re not all wearing clashing colours or clashing patterns.  One point to make though – the really fine pinstripe shirts that men sometimes wear are not the best for a photoshoot as the pattern can sometimes cause a lens distortion.

Make sure your kids are wearing clothes they are comfortable in, otherwise they will not be happy!  Also – I also wouldn’t recommend short skirts or short dresses (for women or girls) because it will limit the pose options we have available (we can’t sit you down if you’re wearing a short skirt). 

In terms of footwear – if you’re having a studio session, then don’t even worry about your shoes – I ask clients to take their shoes off in the studio.  If we’re outdoors, then just make sure you have appropriate footwear for the weather and location.

Don’t worry about getting children to practice their smile.  I have a range of ways I can get children to smile naturally.  Generally when you ask a child to ‘smile’ at the camera, what you get is a crazy-looking grimace!

Don’t rush.  On the day of your session, try and be organised and have everything you need ready.  You don’t need to be early for your session (your session time is based on the best time in relation to the sunset and ‘golden hour’) but try not to be late otherwise you’ll be rushed and stressed. 

This cowboy found his cowgirl - Bingara wedding

Both Jason and Kirsty have grown up around horses.   So when they said they hoped to have horses in their wedding photos, I was cautiously excited (I haven’t spent much time with horses…).  So we gave it a trial run at their engagement session and the results were fantastic.

Jason & Kirsty were married in Cunningham Park at Bingara with a lovely floral arch adding a beautiful touch to the outdoor ceremony.  Family photos and bridal party photos were done at the park, before moving up to the bridge and then around to the Gwydir Riverside for additional photos. 

Because the ceremony was being held at the Bingara Showground (which is also home to the racecourse) the boys were desperate to have a race around the track on their horses – so in the middle of the track I stood, hoping desperately that they six boys wouldn’t trample me as they galloped by!

The evening concluded in the Showground pavilion, but not before we snapped some after dark shots with Kirsty and Jason’s horses – some amazing shots.

Stephen and Fallyn's grand Inverell wedding

Fallyn and Stephen returned from the Gold Coast to their childhood home of Inverell to host family and friends for their wedding on a magnificent November day.

The ceremony was held at Stephen’s family home – a grand and beautiful house, complete with manicured gardens, water fountains and a majestic entrance!  Fallyn arrived in style in a white limousine and walked down a red carpet to her beau!

The ceremony, which was performed by Ian Ryan, was full of personal reminiscences of the pair and included beautiful vows the couple had written for each other.

After the ceremony we shot some bridal party photos in the gardens of Stephen’s family home, and then travelled to a couple of different locations in the Inverell CBD to achieve some more ‘urban’ themed photos, before heading back to the Riverside Gardens where the reception was being held.

Brock & Kim's intimate wedding in Inverell

Brock and Kim wed in front of only their closest family and friends in a small and intimate ceremony on the property of a friend near Inverell’s Copeton Dam at the beginning of November.  “Springsure” has the most amazing rocky outcrop and views and the happy couple took full advantage of the vista on their wedding day.

The ceremony took part overlooking the Bingara Valley under a teepee structure.  After the ceremony, we visited several parts of the farm with the most amazing views to shoot some wedding photographs the couple will be able to treasure forever. 

Craig & Stevie marry in Moree

I have photographed several special moments in Craig and Stevie’s life together.  I first met the couple when Stevie was pregnant and wanted some maternity photographs to recognise the special time in her life.  They then brought son Benji out for me to photograph after he was born.  So it was such an honour to then be asked to photograph their wedding.

The two were married in their garden just out of Moree in front of family and friends.  We then took the bridal party to a nearby property and photographed in and around a woolshed.  Craig has always loved shearing sheds, so he was ecstatic to be able to have his wedding photographs there.

Best wishes for your future!

Rainy wedding day present photographic opportunities in Bingara

The garden wedding planned by Candy and Nathan just wasn’t meant to be, when rainstorms bucketed down in Bingara and the surrounding areas on the afternoon of their wedding.

Thankfully, the pair had hired out the absolutely magnificent Roxy Theatre for their reception – and the ceremony was able to be transferred to the Theatre.  Candy was also brought to the Roxy in the car that her father-on-law had (over the past 30 years) restored.

The service was heartfelt, with mothers of both the bride and groom jointly performing a reading.  Linda McDouall as always, did an excellent job at celebrant.

Now, the weather presented challenges in terms of photography, but it also presented one enormous opportunity – to shoot in the upstairs boardroom of the Roxy, utilising the art-deco architecture and fittings.  We snapped some amazing shots in front of the arched windows and arched French doorways.

I wish Candy and Nathan many years of happiness together.  Real love is about weathering the storms together.

Sarah & Blake wed in Armidale

Sarah and Blake chose St Peters Anglican Cathedral in Armidale for their nuptials, followed by photographs and reception at the amazing Saumarez Homestead just out of Armidale.

The pair actually got ready for the wedding in houses on the same street – just two doors down from each other!  Blake was joined by his two brothers Bryce and Ross and Sarah by close friends Miriam and Bernie.   

Sarah’s dress was a dream to photograph – an exquisite sheath dress with lace cut-outs around the bodice.

When it was time for the girls to leave for the church, two magnificent cars arrived at the house to transport them – a Holden EK Ute which belonged to Blake’s father and a 1930’s Willys-Overland Whippet.

The ceremony was held at the beautiful Anglican Cathedral.  After the service, family and friends gathered together at the church, while I whisked the bridal party off to Saumarez Homestead for some photographs.

Because their bridal cars were so amazing, we had to feature those in a series of shots – the Whippet tied in especially well with the look and feel of the Homestead.  After the we made use of the long driveway, the lawn and the gardens adjacent to the homestead for photos. 

We then made our way down to the Jackson Centre for the reception.

The Ultimate DIY Wedding - Mitch & Gabi, Inverell

Mitch and Gabi’s wedding was the ultimate DIY, handmade wedding!

The couple themselves, as well as family and friends from both sides spent months putting together decorations, outfits and even entertainment for the big day.

The pair were off to a romantic start when Mitch proposed to Gabi in France, at the Eiffel Tower in Paris!  The two then set about planning for their wedding, with an idea forming that as much of it would be as handmade as possible.

Gabi’s mum made the wedding dress, bridesmaids dresses as well as several of the guests dresses.  Mitch’s family spent months putting together the table centrepieces, which were made out of wooden log pieces and decorated with flowers and photos from the couple’s time together.

When they had their engagement shoot with me, Gabi even had a very creative idea in how she was going to use their photographs for a ‘save the date’ card.

All-in-all, it was so beautiful to see not just how the happy couple came together on the day, but how all their family and friends chipped in to make the day so amazing and unique to the pair.

The pair were wed at the home of a family friend, the beautiful gardens of Janice and Ken Uebergang on the southern hills of Inverell.  About an hour before the ceremony was due to begin, the rain decided to sweep in, but by the time the service started, it had passed through.

We worked quickly to take all the bridal party photos we needed at both the gardens and at the golf course, with light fading fast after the stormy weather. 

But we got some amazing pics of the bridal party and the happy couple before heading into the reception.

After dinner we also used the lawns of the golf course to take some after dark shots – my signature!

Meant for each other - Kasey & Matthews fairytale wedding in Armidale

There’s a quote by an author called Cristen Rodgers and it just fits perfectly for Kasey and Matthew – I look into your eyes and I'm sure that some divine artist dipped her brush in the same soul and used it to paint us both...."

When you meet these two, you just instantly know that they were always meant to be together!  They are both warm, bubbly and quirky and I knew as soon as I met them that their wedding was going to be fun, creative and a blast to photograph.

Kasey first approached me to photograph their wedding saying that they were hoping to have a ‘mad-hatters’ tea party’ themed wedding day (tick) at the amazing Suamarez Homestead in Armidale (second tick for me!) and that she was going to get ready in this amazingly renovated old building in the heart of Armidale with ornamental marble fireplaces, opulent furnishings and high ceilings (tick, tick, tick!)

I was blown away by the work that Kasey and Matthew has put into decorating the Jackson Centre, which is essentially on old stable and barn – it was transformed into a garden setting with beautiful fairy lights, amazing ‘tea-party’ style table decorations and greenery everywhere.

They had made the majority of the decorations themselves and everything was completely in-theme.

The ceremony was held on the lawn in front of the old Saumarez Homestead and as soon as Kasey appeared, Matthew’s eyes welled up. The ceremony was short and sweet with beautiful sentiments from Antoinette Davis (Civil Celebrant).

For bridal party photographs we continued the ‘tea-party’ theme for a few shots with the entire bridal party, which I then embellished with a bit of old fashioned editing!  I then took Kasey and Matthew to various parts of the grounds where we shot some amazing photos.

When we returned to the reception, Matthew has a surprise for Kasey.  They had visited Germany and attended a wedding and came across an old tradition of log cutting.   This represents the first obstacle for a newly married couple – sawing through a log with a large, long saw with handles on each end.  They say that if they can manage to cut through the saw using good communication and teamwork, they will achieve anything as a couple.

What an amazing day it was for the couple and also for me to photograph.  I wish so much happiness for Kasey and Matthew.

Brendan and Sara's Tamworth wedding

When you photograph a wedding, it’s just such a special feeling to be part of what is the first big day of a couple’s life together.  And then when you know the both of them, it makes it just that much more special.  I am soooooo pleased that Brendan and Sara have found happiness together!

Brendan is a Warialda boy and Sara’s parents live on a property just outside of Werris Creek. The couple chose Tamworth for their nuptials.

The day began with photographs of the groom and his groomsmen getting ready at the Golf Links Motel.  Brendan had brought along one of his offroad racing suits with a fantastic idea of hanging it alongside his wedding suit!  It certainly made for a very cute photo of him reaching for it instead of his suit!

Sara and her bridesmaids prepared for the ceremony at Sara’s parents place.  Her dog Pearl a constant companion while they got ready – complete with her own little dress!  I also photographed Sara with one of the horses.

The ceremony was amongst the greenery of the Tamworth Botanic Gardens.  What a delightful place for a wedding!  The Bush Chapel seated all the guests and provided ample shade under the trees.  Best of all, we didn’t have to go far for bridal party photographs!

We did however choose an additional location for some photographs – the ultimate spot in Tamworth – King George Avenue.  While the leaves on the trees hadn’t come in yet for spring, the avenue still provided an amazing backdrop for the happy couple.

During the reception at the Tamworth Golf Club, I also stole Sara and Brendan away for ten minutes for a couple of my signature ‘after-dark’ photos.  We used the bare branches of two tress close together for a very surreal shot which had a bit of mysterious feel about it!  I also set up my portable flash just underneath a Palm Tree on the golf course for a fantastic shot!

Marsh family return as their family grows

It is a massive compliment when families return time after time to update their family photos or when a new little cherub arrives!

One of my favourite families to photograph is the Marsh family – who I first photographed before Abbey and Ben were married.  This year, they celebrated the birth of their second child, beautiful little Harper.  I took some pregnancy shots of Abbey and they returned to the studio once Harper was born for a newborn session as well.

For Abbey’s pregnancy session, she chose an outdoor shoot and brought along husband Ben and daughter Ruby as well.  The afternoon was so mild for a winter’s day, and the sun was soft and golden when they arrived in the afternoon.  The results speak for themselves.

After Harper was born, the Marsh family returned to the studio.  Harper wasn’t really keen on sleeping, and instead kept an eye on what I was doing.  She loved being on her belly though, and we got some great sleepy shots by the end!  I just adore the shots of Harper and big sister Ruby together – and those family shots – aren’t they just beautiful!

Zoe's newborn session

When I had Kim, Brock and Grace in the studio for little Zoe’s newborn session, we just chatted the entire time – we found that our families seemed to have so much in common!  Many people worry about talking during a session and think that they need to stay quiet, but I actually think that constant chatting is good because it provides a constant white noise that often soothes bub.

Little Zoe certainly was that, weighing only 5lb 8.5 oz (2.51kg).  She was a wonderfully sleepy bub and her session seemed to fly by so quickly.  Big sister Grace was so excited to pose with Zoe for some pictures and the result was fantastic.

Here are a few of my favourite pics from the session.

Silver at the AIPP NSW Epson Professional Photography Awards

This year, one of my goals was the enter the AIPP NSW Epson Professional Photography Awards.

The Awards are open to AIPP members and each State division has its own awards, before the Australian Professional Photography Awards (APPAs) later in the year.  There are a number of categories, however I chose to enter four images in the Family category.

I didn’t know quite what to expect and I really entered to push myself to come up with four images that I was proud of.  I didn’t necessarily expect to win any awards for my first year.

So, I got my images off to the printer with plenty of time.  The images have to be professionally printed and matted in a regulation ‘Award’ format.  With only a week before entries were due, I finally received my print back and I was devastated to find several printing marks on my two favourite prints!  Arghhhhhh. 

Thankfully the printer fast-tracked my prints and express posted them back to me, and I managed to get my print case sent off to Sydney just in time!

I was so nervous on the day of judging!  I set up my ipad and computer to livestream the judging (the Family section was being judged over two rooms!) and watched and waited.  You never know when your prints are coming up, so you just have to keep watching.

Finally one of my images came up and the critique on it was about what I had expected and I received a score of 76.  A score of 70-77 is of Professional Standard with 78-79 Professional Standard approaching Award level.

A second image was judged and I received another 76.  I was pretty happy at this stage to receive high 70’s – especially given it was my first time entering.

Finally, my third (and favourite) print came up for judging and as I saw 3 scores in the 80’s pop up, I was ecstatic!  (I even had a few tears!).  So a score of 80 and above is a Silver Award, which means that the print exceeds normal professional practice, with high levels of communication, imagination, craft and skill.

While I haven’t reached eligibility to enter the APPAs for this year (you need two or more prints to be Silver Awards or above), I will definitely start thinking about my entries to the NSW Awards again for next year.

I think it’s really important to challenge yourself and to constantly thrive to grow as a photographer.  The awards is a great way to do this.

I am so stoked at my Silver award and my print is currently with the framers so that I can hang it with pride on my studio wall.  And…..it’s pretty cool to say that I’m an ‘award winning’ photographer too!

Triplets

This week was a first for me in the studio – I welcomed Letitia and Sara and their three triplets Aubree, Rosa-Lee and Gracie! 

 

The girls were born prematurely at 26 weeks and thirteen weeks later were discharged from hospital.  So when they visited me at the studio, they were technically only full-term babies – BUT, you could tell these cherubs had already experienced the world for a little while!

Being older babies, I kept the girls wrapped for the majority of the session.  I find that older babies are a lot more settled when they are wrapped and their limbs contained in a swaddle-like arrangement!  And being three of them, it was far easier to move and position them without limbs tangling everywhere!!

Their sleep periods during the session were only brief (as older babies tend to be more wakeful, especially when they are being moved about and positioned) so I took advantage of their shut-eye and snapped while I could, capturing them all together, individually and also their delicate little features – eyelashes, toes, hands and lips.

I’m pretty sure I used every scrap of pink fabric in my studio for this session, and we came out with some really beautiful shots of the girls.

 

 

 

Beautiful little Hunter

What a gorgeous head of hair sweet little Hunter had!  You could already see the beginnings of curls forming in his dark locks!

Hunter was brought out to the studio by Mum and Dad and his very doting sister Rylee.  Rylee was so chuffed when she finally got her turn to hold Hunter and have photos just with him! 

Given his beautiful head of hair, I chose not to use any bonnets on Hunter (although he did look quite fine in a checked golf hat!!)

What an amazing set of images this family will now treasure forever.

Jason & Emily's stunning wedding in the hills of Mount Kaputar

It was a stunning autumn day for Emily & Jason’s wedding, which was held amongst the hills of Mount Kaputar at the Craigdon Accommodation & Function Centre, near Narrabri.

Emily and her bridesmaids had stayed overnight at Craigdon’s main house before the big day and Jason and his groomsmen trucked themselves in to get ready at the ‘Base Camp’ a cottage just down the hill from the main house.

Guests were bussed in and as they began arriving, everyone was amazed at the beautiful surrounds and stunning scenery.

The ceremony was moving with both Jason and Emily preparing their own vows to each other.

After the nuptials we gathered all the guests together for a shot of all family and friends, before moving to family photos while the guests mingled.

Bridal party photographs were done around the main house.  In front of the driveway as great dirt road with a beautiful view down to the Narrabri valley.  As the afternoon closed, we were treated with the most amazing golden light which shone over the hills and lit up the grass, making it glow.

After the reception, the first dance was held outside on the bricked courtyard area, with space for everyone to join them!

What an amazing day it was.  The weather was beautiful, the scenery was stunning and Jason and Emily are truly made for each

Marcus + Felicity - Magical Wedding Tangaratta Vineyards, Tamworth

Felicity and Marcus were married at the beautiful Tangaratta Vineyards, Tamworth on 22nd April 2017.

Marcus and his groomsmen were quite possibly the most organised group from a bridal party that I have ever photographed.  The boys had their suits ready to go and were dressed within minutes.  They were getting ready at Marcus and Felicity’s house and while we were photographing in the back yard, we even had some photobombers of the poultry variety!!

Nothing like a bit of laughter and chasing after some chooks to break the nerves!

Felicity and her beautiful bridesmaids and flowergirls chose the new Mercure Hotel to get ready before the ceremony.  The hotel room was amazing to photograph in with beautiful light coming through the big windows and lovely modern décor and textures throughout the rooms.

Felicity and her bridesmaids were brought out to Tangaratta in vintage cars, which we were also able to use for photographs after the ceremony.

The ceremony was short and sweet, performed by Donna Pollock (Ceremonies by Donna) and then we hit the vines for some bridal party photographs.    The bridal party all had a lot of fun and we even squeezed in a few silly shots amongst the more formal photographs!

Tangaratta Vineyards always cook an amazing dinner and this wedding was no different.  Additional decorations at the venue were supplied by Tamworth Event Planners - Wedding Angels, with beautiful floral arrangements by Willa Floral Design (who also did the stunning bouquets).

Introducing Dusty!

Introducing Dusty Stewart!

Little Dusty was born on the 30th March and weighed 8 pound.

Dusty was not really a happy camper when he came in for his session at my Warialda studio.  But, it only takes a few minutes here and there of some shut-eye and I’m able to produce some magnificent shots for parents. 

The studio is always calm and warm with some lovely relaxing music playing, so we do our best to ensure bub is settled even when they’re not sleepy.

Rachel Sherman Photography is a fully accredited photographer with the Australian Institute of Professional Photography and specialises in newborn and wedding photography.