Preparing for you session
One of the best things about going on-location is how easy wardrobe decisions are. I ask mom to lay out a few choices and send me a photo so we discuss what works and why before the session. If you’re incorporating the home and nursery, choose an outfit that compliments their decor. If you’re going for traditional portraits against a solid background, you’ll want something simple so nothing distracts you from your faces.
Some general tips – I suggest choosing a colour palette & dressing everyone around that colour scheme. Mix it up & layer on some accessories & textures. Neutrals & earthy tones are classic & timeless. Jewel tones, pastels, & pops of colour always work well. If you’ve got a throw rug that matches, bring it along!
What to avoid? Cringey matchy-matchy outfits. Avoid logos & large branding images on t-shirts. Avoid ugly/tired shoes. Try not to wear crazy patterns that might clash. Red, white & loud patterns will command attention in your final photos, so avoid these if you want the focus of your portraits to be your beautiful family faces.
It’s a good idea to leave things like sun glasses, wallets and anything else like that in the car. I’m going to be shooting all the time as we walk etc. I find the in between shots are often the best and I want you guys to be holding hands and interacting with each other… so bags and things in hands just hinder all that good, natural interaction. I can hold onto your keys and one mobile phone if need be. But I’d love everyone to have empty pockets, hands etc…
If getting a bit of a pamper beforehand is likely to make you feel refreshed & most beautiful, then I encourage you to book in a hair styling session, a good massage, & a make-up appointment. Whilst these may seem counter-intuitive to the ‘raw & honest’ everyday approach of lifestyle photos, I want you to feel & be your best selves… if those things make you feel confident that will show up in your general disposition.
Above all else, I want you to feel comfortable in clothes you’re happy to sit in, and that allow you to move freely. We don’t want your body language & memory of the session to be a memory of how uncomfortable you were in your clothes!
The last thing I want clients to be worried about when doing a home newborn session – just days into parenthood & sleep deprivation – is the chores. That said, there are a few places I do tend to do your home sessions & small adjustments around those areas can help alleviate the anxiety you might feel about the tidiness of your home.
When doing home sessions I tend to walk in & find the best window light & clean bright walls in the home. Knowing where that is helps me determine where to shoot a lot of my imagery. I will often shoot family shots by the big windows, in the parents bedroom, on the family couch or in the nursery, so these are the areas I would suggest hiding away anything you don’t want photographed. Make the bed, de-clutter the side tables & stage these areas to your personal taste. Anything else in the home, I can move, IF I think I need too. Most of the time I will compose my shots & choose lenses to avoid any obvious clutter in your photos.
Newborn babies are fickle little humans with their own personalities, & sessions can take a little longer than you may expect. I allocate 3hrs for these sessions & have a workflow that includes photographing the siblings at the beginning before they get too tired & lose interest in me or the baby. I offer both lifestyle & minimalist, posed/skin2skin so we will discuss your ‘must have’ shots before the session date. It’s important to note, that you can expect less images from these sessions for the time I invest – usually around 20-30.
My goal is to photograph babies within the first 10-14 days, as this is when they have generally settled into feeding and are the sleepiest & easiest to curl, however lifestyle images can be done at any age.
Many babies will have a time of day where they seem more unsettled than others, so we’ll work around any of that and sibling nap times. I am flexible with all newborn session so there’s plenty of time for cuddles & feeding & the inevitable mess. However for a session to be successful we need a well fed, non-windy tummy & we’ll need to ensure baby isn’t recovering from recent vaccinations or surgical procedures.
I encourage you to give baby a deep warm bath, gentle massage & good feed about half an hour before your session, to get them extra relaxed & sleepy. Even if your baby has just finished eating, almost all of the babies want just a little bit of a top-up after being moved, to help them fall deeply asleep. If you have your heart set on sleeping baby portraits, flexible feeding times is one of the most important factors.
In the winter, Ill ask that you turn up the heat and in the summer, the air conditioning off in the morning before I arrive to avoid any cool drafts. As soon as I’m done with the session, you can adjust your thermostat comfortably! My studio is also temperature controlled for your session. I will use white noise to help assist settling.
Dress baby lightly in an outfit that can be easily unbuttoned to remove & won’t need to be pulled off over their heads. Depending on your must have shot’s we’ll sometime undress & wrap baby up in a blanket with just the diaper on so I don’t have to undress baby at all once they’ve fallen asleep. I recommend that any chosen newborn outfits fit baby well, are simple colours & expose babies feet as they can look a bit ‘potato sacky’ in an oversized, footed outfit. Details shots are also more difficult if the feet are covered up & baby is more unsettled.
I make no promises that I will get any single particular shot in any newborn session. I have a general ‘shotlist’ that I aim for which includes parents, siblings, individual portraits & details shots. I will persist to get those shots while everyone seems to be coping okay. I will call the session & reschedule if I don’t feel it’s going well. It’s super important to me to NOT add to the stress of ‘newborn life’ and that I deliver a quality gallery of images.
A big thing I want to express is to try not to take your photos too seriously. I don’t want you stressed out about the shoot & the kids behaving for me—it will be casual and simple, and the more relaxed & down to earth you are, the more relaxed your baby and the rest of the family will be, too. Enjoy this opportunity to bond and start out a lifelong tradition of captured moments.
Please note that ‘golden hour sunset sessions’ are often quite late in summer daylight savings season (around 9pm) and may not be possible if your kids are likely to become irritable around this time of the evening.
One of the main tips I can give you is to plan the session to coincide with the time of the day when the children are in the best mood, or with an activity they will actively participate in. Children do get tired quickly and it is nearly impossible to bring them back to contentment once they get to that stage. When a child is protesting or doesn’t want to cooperate and just wants to do their own thing we go along with it. Sometimes, children are simply not willing to cooperate and participate despite everything. If we’ve tried exploring, sung their favourite songs and nothing is working, often just giving them a break from the session and focusing on the parents can make the kids come around.
Snacks can be great for a session reset, but I suggest you avoid bribing your kids. This usually comes from a good place, however in my experience it often sets kids up to anticipate the END of a session. They will ask me ‘how much longer’ & will be just biding time with fake smiles to get their ‘reward’. Candy bribes also tend to end with messy faces or with kids seeking repeat treats & losing interest in the session. Devices can be very distracting, so pull them out with caution. Children are incredibly curious and playing to that curiosity is going to help me get those in-between moments. I prefer to engage in play, so come armed with songs they love & be willing to get a little bit silly and playful.
Disciplining you kids with care – Telling your child off repetitively for not smiling & following instructions can quickly break down our session. Letting children play and explore is part of the fun, and giving children a little bit of time to get a feel for their surroundings can make all the difference in their participation. The word “no” usually makes children shut down or protest, both behaviours we want to avoid. I encourage you to have a ‘NO’ free session – In other words, parents cannot say “no” to the children during our time together. On the other end of the spectrum if your kids get over-silly, I have tricks to work through that too.
During your session we want to encourage natural smiles, not forced ones & it’s my job to engage with your child to get natural reactions, to read the room & help find ways to make that happen without the pressure.
Whether home, boudoir or simply outdoors, body language is EVERYTHING in these sessions & I do help guide couple poses to show as much love & connection as possible without the awkwardness. This means, hugging, kissing, belly cradling, romance & lots of genuine, fun, playful moments. If you’re not up for a bit of loved-up-ness, then these sessions simply aren’t for you.
Home & studio sessions are often skin 2 skin, non-suggestive sessions. Its my job to gauge you & your partners comfort level throughout the session, but the more open, relaxed & trusting you are, the better.
Do give yourself a pamper, get your hair & makeup done, choose clothing & lingerie that makes you feel your best self.
Do co-ordinate your clothing with your partner. Choose styling that is reflective of you & your partner, not necessarily the current trends.
Do come as you are! Don’t come to your session with a list of body flaws that you want photoshopped. You are beautiful as you are, even with all the new & temporary curves. I want you to be able to see the moment, beyond the physical assets.
To prepare for these sessions, we first need to establish a theme or any styling ideas. Because I need to source a lot of these props & backdrops before your session choosing an idea as early as convenient really helps give me time to get organised. We’ll discuss your idea & work collaboratively to bring those to life.
You will need to supply a cake yourself (or fruit if you prefer a fruit smash). If you need details of cake suppliers, please contact me for recommendations.
One thing to consider when booking these is whether you want these images in time for a birthday party or invitations. If you do, then we may need to consider booking much earlier than 1year to allow time for editing & designing invitations. If you don’t, then as close as possible to their first birthday is encouraged to accurately reflect that stage of babies growth & development.
Young children have a fairly short attention span & can often become overwhelmed by having to sit in front of studio lights for any prolonged period. if your babe is an early walker than they won’t want to stay ‘on set’ for very long. I have a workflow and we’ll play games that helps us combat this. It’s always handy for mum & dad to be prepared with songs, toys & games baby loves, to support with interaction, & to be able to physically help bring bub back on scene.
It’s not uncommon for babies to be handed a cake with free will to touch & play, & be completely uninterested. If this is your babies first time eating cake, this will especially be true. Whilst some babies can be prompted, others are completely overwhelmed. You’re likely spending good money on a cake & the cost of your session, so it can be really disappointing to have your baby refuse to eat it on the day. One way you can help prepare your child is to do a trial run at home & introduce them to cake before your session, or chose a food option that is likely to get them stimulated.
Ultimately the cake is only a tool we’re using to get some natural curiosity & smiles from your session, so it is a good idea not to hold on too close to expectations of baby stuffing their face with cream. I will discuss it with you & move on if any activity is causing your baby to become too upset, rather than forcing anything.
These sessions get messy. So bring a change of clothing for everyone!
Babies usually LOVE splashing in the bubble bath at the end of the session. I supply bath tools that match the set, clean towels & will use a baby safe soap in the water. If your child has any allergies to products or foods please advise before your session. You are welcome to bring your own supplies in place of any of mine.
Here’s some extra information on how I base my cake smash sessions around sensory play > SENSORY PLAY
CREATIVE PORTRAITS & BOUDOIR
Creative portraits & boudoir require a bit of trust & confidence from everyone.
I am always working within the comfort zone of my clients. Right from the get go we will discuss the desired outcome of your shoot & we’ll plan your session around those desirables. Whether you are after an outdoor, casual portrait shoot OR a creative indoor, or studio lit shoot (with more skin than fabric), there are some things that will help us get the best out of your session:
These sessions are often more suggestive & more intimate. We want to get the fire, without the awkwardness. I will help guide you with posing & we’ll take our time if you need breaks. Body language is incredibly important so try to relax & not take it all too seriously. I will guide you with posing but I am also always planning ahead for the final image. From a visual artists perspective, that is everything inside the image square, the overall aesthetic of your gallery, the colour toning & how I fill that frame with light & form to draw the eyes where I want them to go.
I want you to get excited about these sessions. While nerves are to be expected, it’s very difficult to photograph someone who is resistant to having their photo taken. I pride myself on helping to identify your anxieties & make you get comfortable. I’ll try to help knock down some of the personal barriers you are putting up, but if you’re fighting against the session right from the get go then it will show in your images & your experience & you’re almost guaranteed to be unhappy with the outcome.
I’ll ease you into it. The first few photos are often what I consider ‘warm up’ portraits. It gets easier when we’re all more comfortable in conversation & presence. I’m anxious too. I’m by nature a pretty introverted person & I put a lot of pressure on myself to do the best job I can for you. Your comfort, & your experience are incredibly important to me & you’re coming into a judgement free zone. It’s also, just us, which is a good reminder that there’s no external pressure.
Bring liquid courage & your choice of music. Again, this is a no-judgement zone. If it takes a shot or a certain playlist to help you lower your inhibitions, then that’s fine by me. I’m not a licenced premises. I do not recommend drunk & disorderly but I consider our session a friend-zone & if you want to sip on a glass during your session to help ease the nerves then that’s fine by me.
Just some general tips on how to dress for headshots:
When choosing colours to wear, solids in neutral, classic & jewel tones work best. Avoid wearing anything too loose & blocky. Where possible consider if your hair will blend into the outfit (for example long dark hair colours may blend into dark jackets). Loud patterns & prints can be distracting from your face. Consider colour psychology when choosing your outfit:
- Dark colours are perceived as more formal, dominant and authoritative
- Light colours make the wearer appear more friendly and approachable
- Some bright colours can convey confidence and energy
- Muted colours are conservative and less threatening
- High-contrast pairings like a dark jacket and light shirt can create a powerful image that conveys influence and authority
Avoid low cut necklines. Wear simple jewellery and accessories. Anti-glare coated glasses recommended. Hair tidy & styled.
Feel free to bring a second outfit, a jacket, a scarf, different styles of glasses & some bold vs neutral lippy if you want a couple of slightly different options within the time constraints.
Please make sure you outfit is ironed (I have a handheld steamer in the office just in case for small details) but photoshopping out persistent wrinkles can be an avoidable challenge.
If you’re having your photos taken for your workplace or organisation, please check whether name tags or shirt logos are required, or acceptable. External brands may have restrictions on whether they can be photographed within your/other organisations, & consistency with attire, profile, angles, lighting & backdrops across headshots may be of considerable concern to your workplace.
Relax & bring your friendliest smile ?
SHARING ONLINE & SOCIAL MEDIA
There’s a bit of a misconception that I will share your images online without your permission. For some people this can feel intimidating & create hesitation around booking in.
A core part of your experience with me is receiving sneak peeks from your sessions. As the creator of your work, I do have the rights to share the images I take & edit, for self-promotion. When I choose your sneak peeks I usually select MY favourites & a handful of shots from your session that ‘tell a story’ when shown together.
Sharing what I take gives people an idea of my style & often they will book in after seeing a particular image that resonates with them. When you agree to work with me, you do agree to this condition. Seeing all the lovely comments, validation & feedback that comes instantly from social media can add to the joy of your experience with me overall.
However, from a moral & ethical point of view, I wholly believe that I am taking these images for you first & foremost – you’re a paying client after all. Should you wish to keep your session private, I will always be respectful of that, & can provide your images via a private gallery. Some people prefer the private gallery viewing so they can vet the images before they go online. Some are happy for me to market in-house & in-print, but not online. I am happy to work in this way so you feel confident & safe with the images I share.
If there’s a particular image from your session I really want to showcase online because I think it will capture my audience, I will discuss it with you in a non-pushy manner. If I love it, chances are it’ll get a lot of love online.
If I post something that really makes you uncomfortable, please reach out to have it removed.
If you’ve opted into a ‘free’ shoot with me, then sharing your images is often a part of the trade-off to make it worthwhile to me & my business, but I’m always honest & transparent about my intentions.
I recognise that everyone has their own levels of comfort & beliefs about sharing online, & so I always want you to feel considered with what I share. It is a necessary part of my business practice to market my work & be seen as a creator & I appreciate everyone who allows me to share their own intimate stories more broadly online.
If you feel huge anxiety about getting in front of the camera & worry about being awkward & stale, then you should know.. me too! I’m an introvert & have built my photography business as a way to connect better with people.
Anxiety is often tied to a future expectation for the final shots. Most people are hung up on getting the one perfect picture (or series of aesthetic pictures), on looking a certain way, on a particular body ‘flaw’, & on not feeling like the ‘pretty girl’. I’m here to tell you to LET THAT GO!
So much of a positive photography experience comes down to how you feel during your session. If you’re holding onto that discomfort, expectation & anxiety, that’s all you’ll remember later & it’ll taint your photos. Every person comes to me with a different list of insecurities & comfort levels.
I have had many people over the years tell me that they hate being in front of the camera & my response everytime is that they just haven’t had a great experience yet!
I create a safe space in front of my camera & there’s tons of direction & banter, & MOVEMENT to help take your focus off the camera. It’s a few minutes of ‘acting’ like your most confident self in front of the lens, while I chat to you. My goal is to make you look & feel amazing, so I’m actively going out of my way to NOT take the bad pictures you’re hesitating about!
I also have a rigorous culling process after your session which includes removing any images that I feel make you look larger, more uncomfortable & aren’t honest to your story.
Sometimes a pose or lighting doesn’t work on your body how it does on others, & that’s perfectly okay. During the session I am keeping a close eye on:
- your body language to gauge what works naturally for you, & if I’ve made you hold that face to the point of a fake smile.
- the lighting to see how it bounces off your skin tone, where the deeper shadows fall on your body and face
- your clothing & how large folds, straps or tight areas might end up ruining a final image
- the background, the pose, the connection & how they all blend together in the final composition
When you’re with me for a session I walk you through those things, so you can feel confident. At the end of it all, a good reminder is that these photos aren’t for right now – they are for future you who has grown in wisdom, & no longer carries those same carefree manners or fears. They are for your children, who want to see their heritage & your commitment to them growing up. If they are confronting now, you never regret the shots as life escapes you.
Another thing to remember is that you don’t have to get ALL the perfect shots in one session. The more opportunities you give yourself to get in front of the camera, the more chance you will have of capturing those true, perfect glimpses of yourself that you’ll feel truly connected to & each session is just another adventure you get to go on!
Planning ahead for an outdoor shoot poses one additional challenge – we’re at the mercy of Mother Nature!
In the lead up to outdoor sessions, I monitor the forecast & will get in touch with you as early as I can to warn you of poor predictions. If we’re expecting rain, any extreme weather or heavy wind, I will offer a reschedule or the option to move indoors. Local indoor options are far & few between. Indoor usually means moving to my studio or your home as an alternative. Of course if you’re hung up on glowy outdoor shots, then we’ll look at alternative days.
Reschedules due to bad weather are included in your booking & just part of the game. I don’t ever feel put out if you feel that we need to choose another time.
Ultimately my goal is to ensure you have a great session experience, and every family has a different level of comfort when it comes to braving it. If you’re happy to get muddy, then heck yes, let’s get muddy! If you’re more conservative or planning on paying for hair or makeup, then I will absolutely do my best to accommodate you so you are getting the best outcome possible.
It is my personal preference to avoid the high wind days Whyalla can be known for, as it can add quite a lot of work in post trying to find the best shots, or tame wild hair & billowy dresses. Sand in your eyes is also no fun for anyone. I’m mindful that heavy cloud can shorten our day, threaten rain & block out a glowy, golden sunset, but they also create softer light & drama to your shots. All sessions are cancelled in extreme heat & sunscreen, water & snacks are encouraged on milder summer days.
Lastly, dress for the weather. Comfort should be a priority. I know you’ve put lots of effort into choosing outfits & may have your heart set on everyone wearing what was chosen, but cold children won’t be having a good time, dads don’t want to be sweat-patching through their shirts & an hour long sunburn can be a painful repercussion.
SKAI SKORUP-MATTHEWS - PHOTOGRAPHER | LIFESTYLE + BIRTH + FAMILY DOCUMENTARY | WHYALLA, SA