There are so many reasons to get outside and get some portraits taken. Nature is coming alive again, and flowers are blooming everywhere. Cold temperatures are (mostly) leaving us for a while and coats are being stored away. High school seniors are nearing the end of their epic journey, and summer is on the horizon. And besides, who needs an excuse for portraits?
Spring portraits are a wonderful way to celebrate all things new, but before you grab your camera and head outside, remember to avoid these common mistakes.
FOR ALL THE MOMTOGRAPHERS:
1. DON'T FORGET TO CHECK THE WEATHER
I am reminded daily of how unpredictable spring is here in Colorado. Yesterday my kids were out in shorts and flip flops, while today they were grabbing hoodies and gloves. Your home might not have quite a spring like that, but don't be so quick to assume your day of portraits will be a typical one. Check the weather. Then check it again. You might not need to cancel or postpone your portraits, but you might need to rethink that short-sleeved spring dress.
2. BRING BLANKETS
Blankets are great to have handy, and not for keeping warm. Rather, they're for keeping dry. Sure the trees are budding and the grass is turning a beautiful green, but April showers bring more than May flowers. They bring muddy lawns. Even on a dry and sunny day, you don't want to make the mistake of sitting yourself- or your subject- down in the grass only to ruin her new white pants or his new khakis. Bring a blanket- or two. Give your kids or your subjects a place to sit that's safe. It's always better to be safe than soggy.
3. DRESS YOURSELF FOR SUCCESS
When planning photographs for your kids or for others, choosing what they should wear is always at the top of the priority list. But what about you? The one behind the camera? It's just as important for you to consider your outfit as it is for your subjects. The last thing you want is to have frozen fingers as you try to adjust your camera settings, or to have sandals on when the temperature drops 15 degrees in an hour (which it did during my last session!). As I mentioned before, keep an eye on the weather, and dress accordingly. Perhaps consider layering in order to be prepared for whatever comes your way.
4. ALWAYS CARRY AN UMBRELLA AND A TRASH BAG
Yes, I said a trash bag. An umbrella is an obvious "must have", whether you're shooting or not. But a trash bag is essential too, for several reasons. First, you do not want to have your camera out in a sudden downpour. Cold temperatures and heat waves are fine. But water and your camera are not ok. A trash bag is a simple way to protect your camera in a sudden shower. Pop a hole in the bag and stick your lens a bit out of the hole and you've got a make shift waterproof case for your camera. As well, a trash bag also helps if the ground is wet and you don't have a blanket for your subjects- or if the blanket is too light to be effective.
FOR THE PORTRAIT SUBJECTS:
1. DON'T FORGET SWEATERS
Choosing what to wear for portraits is crucial. But in the spring it's even more crucial to be fashionable AND functional. So when you're choosing clothes for yourself or the whole family, consider adding a sweater to the mix. You don't want to be caught unaware on a chilly spring day and have nothing but your old winter coat. A cute sweater can go a long way when your six year old daughter is shaking like a leaf in a sleeveless dress. So don't forget the sweaters.
2. REMEMBER SPRING WIND... AND BRING A BRUSH
Just like a sweater can help warm the little ones, a brush can go a very long way on a windy day. I love spring days, but I hate coming inside on a breezy day to find my hair looks like it went through a tornado! And the longer the hair, the crazier it gets. So do not leave the house without a brush. A comb could be a last resort, but if your daughter's hair is anything like my daughter's hair, no comb is going to help on a windy day!
3. DON'T BE SO QUICK TO GET OUT INTO NATURE
I know that as spring is springing, we moms are jumping at the bit to get our kids out in nature and so we schedule those natural and rustic portrait sessions. And we doll our kids up in little khakis and dresses, little spring shoes, and out we go into the meadows and fields. And that's the last time we ever see those cute clothes clean again. Truly, spring is so pretty, but it's also quite wet and muddy, so keep that in mind when deciding on a location. If you opt for the meadows, go in knowing this could be the cutest little mud fest ever. Just don't forget about that mud.
4. DON'T RUSH NATURE
And on that same note, it's important to remember that those beautiful spring meadows and prairies might not be fully bloomed. It's a beautiful time of year, but life is not fully bloomed so take a quick sweep of the locations you are considering before heading their on Portrait Day. You may find that your favorite dogwood has not yet fully bloomed and so you are posing for portraits in front of a bunch of skinny branches. Go scope out some scenes. Then make your nature decision.
Spring is a perfect time to get back outside with your camera, but don't head out there without avoiding these mistakes. Skip the mud and keep an eye on the weather and you'll be a step ahead and on your way to lovely spring portraits. Happy Spring!