Elise Welker Photography | Richmond Virginia Newborn Photographer Elise Welker Photography | Richmond Virginia Newborn Photographer Elise Welker Photography | Richmond Virginia Newborn Photographer Elise Welker Photography | Richmond Virginia Newborn Photographer Elise Welker Photography | Richmond Virginia Newborn Photographer

Elise Welker Photography

Preparing for Your Family Session


I am so looking forward to creating beautiful photos for your family. It is my hope that together we make fun memories during your session, while capturing your family just as they are at this point in time.

I love to see families snuggling, being goofy, and just loving on each other. I will always do my best to get those desired shots of everyone looking and smiling at me, but will also mix in hugs, kisses, piggyback rides, races and fun stuff like that! I welcome your ideas of how your family plays together!

Sessions are typically shot in the evening for optimal lighting – the time frame of this will depend upon the season and the sun (and, sometimes, the location). We will discuss this more in detail if we haven’t already and I can provide how-to suggestions for keeping little ones up past their bedtimes. I do have a few location options that work in the mornings for families who prefer that.

Please take some time to read through the following information as you prepare yourself and your family!

Looking forward to seeing you again or meeting you for the first time!

things to do & bring

Here are some suggestions for your kids to help make our session a great one!

Preparing your kids for our session as much as possible often takes the timidness out of the evening.

Please make sure kids know that this is FUN and make reference to how “our friend Elise” will be taking them! The more you talk about the photos as something fun that you are doing with a friend, the more likely they will be to jump right in when we get started. 

No threats, as they usually add stress. Instead, I’m a huge fan of bribery for the ones who need a little extra encouragement. Real-time treats for little ones (small and chewy, like a gummy candy) or the promise of ice cream after for older kids work well. Nothing chocolate, please! If you prefer for me to hand out the bribe, just toss it my way before we get started.

Please bring wet hand/face wipes for running noses or messy faces/hands.

Don’t forget a small snack or drinks for the kids in case someone gets hungry/thirsty, although limiting drink before/during the session unless it is necessary is a good way to avoid losing time to bathroom breaks.

Please have a change of clothes in the car. While the styled outfits may go to the wayside, having back-up outfits means that a spilled drink or potty accident won’t ruin your session.

If your kids have any favorite toys/lovies/activities that you would like to integrate into the session, please let me know and feel free to bring them.

for moms & dads

Moms, I’m speaking to you here because, let’s be honest, you’re the one usually prioritizing the importance of having keepsake images of your little family.

Your husband is perhaps even less than thrilled about the upcoming photo shoot? A little bribery may work well here (though maybe something better than ice cream!) as well! But seriously, let your husband know that the shoot will be relatively painless and to try to focus on having an hour to play with the kids, hold your hand and just savor the moment!

Please remind your husband that his phone and wallet will show through his pants, so be sure those are in his back pockets if he needs to have them with him.

Depending on the disposition of your children, don’t be surprised if I ask you to move out of their field of vision while I am photographing them. If a child doesn’t have too much separation anxiety, I can get much better eye contact in their individual images if they are just focused on me. For older babies or those who are more timid, don’t be surprised if I ask you to get very, very close to my lens instead of standing alongside me.

My only rule for parents is no dangling hands! I want to see your hands always connected to something. Hold the hand of your spouse or child; touch the head, shoulder, nose (whatever!) of a family member; play with your hair (moms/girls); tuck a hand in a pocket (thumbs out!).

Moms may want to bring along a hairbrush or hair ties in case of wind.


I want you guys to be comfortable and still be you, to use at least some items you already own, and to be in outfits that will photograph well. We are a team and I am happy to help you. Please feel free to send links or images for feedback. Once I see some of the pieces you are considering, I may send you links to additional items available for purchase. We will exchange as many emails as you need in the planning phase. PLEASE start on styling sooner than later. I am not always available the night before a session (eek!) for wardrobe consultation.

Think layers. Probably the biggest difference between sessions that look great and sessions that look wow: layers. Think little boys in a t-shirt, with a button up over it, along with a blazer. Little girls: same thing, fun skirt, tank with a sweater and a simple (not too big and overwhelming!) hair piece.

Coordinate. As you think about your color palette, each person/outfit should contribute to a feeling of coordination. Aiming for about three colors spread among your outfits provides a nice cohesion without being too “matchy”. Instead of everyone wearing the same shade of blue, think about what accent colors might look nice with the blue. Perhaps blue plaid shorts for your son with a t-shirt and vest. Pull some colors from his plaid shorts to find a great skirt or dress for your little girl. Dad can wear jeans and a shirt that coordinates with the plaid shorts and skirt on your daughter, and finish it off with an awesome jacket. Mom could round the family out with some boots, leggings and dress that coordinates with the family color story. A mix of solids and patterns is ideal, and it’s best to avoid clothing with logos or words for a more timeless look.

Head to toe. Don’t forget to include your shoes in outfit planning. For kids: Converse, boat shoes, boots, Toms, Mary Janes, etc.

What NOT to wear. Avoid neon and super bright colors as they tend to reflect a color cast onto the skin, as well as all white shirts/dresses which tend to turn the skin blue in outdoor light. Think about choosing the “muddier” version of a color (berry instead of red, mustard instead of yellow, olive instead of emerald, etc.)

Dress in a dress! There is a little that photographs better on moms and girls than dresses and skirts because of how lovely the movement looks in images. Please consider going this route if you are comfortable. If you don’t want to invest a lot because you are not a “dress” person usually, take a look at Amazon for inexpensive options!

Helpful tip! Head into your local GAP (or the like) and mention you’re styling for family photos. They are happy to direct you – and free of charge! No need to pay a stylist when you have knowledgeable fashion advice right there in the store.

Ideas for stores to shop: Modcloth, Loft, Anthropologie, Free People, Nordstrom, Old Navy, Gap, Zara, H&M, JCrew, Etsy, TJMaxx, Marshalls, Amazon, Janie&Jack, Mini Boden, Dollcake, Babble Bear.

the day of your session

Please make sure your children go to the bathroom before leaving, as well as limiting their liquid intake beforehand. This allows us uninterrupted shooting time! If your little one isn’t accustomed to staying up until sunset, please adjust their naps to later in the day as best you can. I like to take my time at the beginning of the session to help your kids warm up to me and the experience, so please don’t worry if things seem to start “slow”. Take a look back at the beginning of this guide to be sure you have the suggested items that you pulled together in preparation for a smooth session with your kids. Mom and Dad, as you focus on your children, don’t forget about yourself! Keep your posture good, as well as keeping yourself from pulling your chin in. These simple things allow for the most flattering images. Something else to keep in mind is to be watchful of your own expression as you’re trying to get your little ones to smile. Remember you are in the photos as well! As I work to capture your kids’ attention, please stay connected to the experience, either looking at me if we are working on that type of image, or looking at your family. We don’t want Dad’s gaze to have wandered off during the very moment we manage to get the best smiles from your kids!

A quick but important note: if the weather turns out warmer/cooler than you anticipated when putting together outfits, please adjust what everyone is wearing. Doing a session when it’s sweltering and kids are over dressed is never fun. Likewise, if a cold front comes through unexpectedly, please put sweaters or jackets on your children, as I can’t photoshop out goose bumps and blue lips. It is best to just plan to wear outwear for late fall and early spring sessions when putting together your wardrobe – you can always discard it is warmer.

In case of rain, I will be watching the radar all day. I typically use the hourly forecast to make a decision on weather if we need to decide the day prior. In our area, the weather forecast tends to be unpredictable, so sometimes it is hard to make the correct call, but I will be in touch with you about 24 hours in advance if things are looking unsure.

Just as important as the weather is that everyone being photographed be feeling 100%. There isn’t anything worse than an unhappy and sick feeling child – they especially do not want to be in front of a camera. At the first sign that your kids aren’t well, please let me know.

a few additional thoughts

If your little one brings along a “lovie” (stuffed animal, blanket, etc.) sometimes we have time at the end of the session to capture some memories with that special piece of their childhood! Or you may choose to have the lovey with you for the entire session if it increases your child’s comfort – that is completely up to you.

It is truly my pleasure to be able to photograph your family and I look forward to the fun we will have! Thanks for taking the time to best prepare for your session, as it truly makes a difference.