*Similar, but not matching!
Choose a color theme and use variations of that color- blues, neutrals, yellows... Try to stick to having everyone in light tones or everyone in dark tones- mixing up someone in a dark shirt with someone in a pastel doesn't make for a balanced photo.
*Keep it polished, but casual!
Family portraits don't have to be "Sunday best formal clothing". Choose comfortable clothes that you feel good in, but are a little more polished and put together than usual. Cool and fun accessories can really complete an outfit and make it a little more interesting. Ladies wearing statement necklaces with a simple dress can be great.
* Gloomy day? No that's ok!
Sunlight can look harsh- it makes dark shadows on faces and makes people squint. When I take pictures I usually place people in shade or under overhangs with the sun in the background. This way there's even and soft light over the people, but you can still see the bright day in the background. If the sun isn't shining on your photo day, that's alright. I make sure the color balance is nice and warm and the photo doesn't look cold and unappealing.
*Early in the morning or later in the afternoon = the best light
Early morning light or later afternoon light is just softer and more flattering on faces. The background isn't harsh or with spotty highlights. The only time you can really get away with shooting around noon is in the dead of winter when the light is softer anyways. I'll try my best to make sure we're shooting at a good time of day. If you're wanting photos at the beach I will time it so we're there close to sunset time.
*Bring some props!
A big balloon, a flower, some bubbles, a bike, anything! For newborn photography things that work well are little booties, soft blankets, and hats or headbands.
*Last, but not least- keep it relaxed!
I know, easier said than done! But yes, let's have some fun with this! Not all the shots have to be posed and formal, it's good to have some variety. I like to have people link arms and walk, or have two siblings hold hands. Sometimes when people are embarrassed they giggle and act a little more vulnerable, which makes for a good shot!