BEING THE CLIENT - Woodbridge, VA Photographer

A few weeks ago I became the client - I booked a family session with a friend and colleague, Kelsey Arrowood of Arrowood Photography. Now, it's probably bad business to gush about another photographer that works in the same city, but I'd by lying if I said I wasn't in love and overjoyed with my photos! I only hope my clients feel the way I did when I finally got the prints from my session in my hands =)

I thought this would be a great opportunity to switch roles here for a bit and write about what it was like being the client on the other side of the camera. Grab a piece of pumpkin pie (no judgement, right Kelsey?) and enjoy!


In the wise words of Tim Gunn, when it comes to picking out your clothes you just have to make it work. Luckily I had about a month to scour the mall, Target, Children's Place and just about every store I could think of. It was during one of my many "necessary" trips to Target that I spotted this super cute outfit - and epic tights - for my daughter. Once I found her outfit, I worked from there.

The key to making your outfits successful is using shades of the same color(s) instead of choosing just one shade of a color, which really narrows your options. For example, Autumn's sweater is light gray while the gray in her tights is dark, like my husband's shirt. Adding accessories is another great way to tie everything together (Autumn's hair bow, adding a turquoise necklace to my outfit to pull in her skirt and tights).

For my clients, I often send along a link to a Pinterest board of previous sessions where clients have really nailed their coordinating outfits without being matchy matchy. Knowing what a process it was for me, I am even more impressed when I see perfectly polished families step out of their car!


The gift of time that is! Because our session was scheduled on a week night and my husband was working and meeting us at the session, it was up to me to get all the kids picture ready as well as myself. I stressed out hardcore - mostly about my hair being just right. Unfortunately I became so frazzled and struggled to get everyone ready in time that there were quite a few tears shed before getting in the car. Not mine - didn't want to ruin my makeup! The problem was that my stress and panic was rubbing off on the kids. If I'd given myself more time to get ready and planned to leave earlier, Autumn probably wouldn't have known anything was out of the ordinary. By transferring my stress onto her, it transferred over into our session.

She ended up in her diaper by the end of the session, but that's another story...


The bonus to lifestyle, outdoor, on-location photography is that there is no 15-20 minute window where you and your kids HAVE to perform. As Kelsey, our photographer said, some of the best photos happen in between "posing" and what I call those "over the mantel photos". I couldn't agree more. However, this philosophy is new to a lot of clients. I often see parents trying to wrestle their kids into being quiet, folding their arms and forcing a smile for my camera. There have been times where I want to beg a parent to relax because kids will shut down.

Well, I was that parent. Doh! How easily I forgot when the roles were reversed. As I mentioned, I transferred a lot of my stress and anxiety over to my 3 year old. As a result, if she didn't want to do it, she wasn't having it. We'd brought bribes, brought her Ernie, tried giving her soda... I found myself trying so hard to get her to perform that Kelsey kept saying, "It's okay! It's okay! Hey Autumn-" and she would divert Autumn's tantrum to something else.

For you parents out there, don't you agree that your kids are usually better behaved for everyone but you? Or you've at least heard that saying? Is it only me?! Well, sometimes it helps to step back and let your photographer lead. Kids are less likely to put up a fight for a nice stranger. Don't get me wrong - we need your help, but take a step back. Sometimes even walking away and giving us some one on one time with your little ones can make a world of difference.


After the session, I was so relieved. It was OVER! We did it! Hurray! Then came the waiting game.

How did they come out? 

Did we get ANY good family pictures? 

I was so eager for a sneak peek of our photos! I think I must have refreshed Facebook 50 times an hour... Ok, maybe just 45.

When I finally saw the preview/teasers from our session, I just about cried. Being the photographer in the family means I'm rarely in any pictures. I'm sure professional and family hobbyist photographers can relate. So to finally see our pictures and have beautiful images of myself with my family - I can't describe it. I was just overjoyed. From both a personal and professional standpoint I can't begin to convey and put into words how important I think family photography is. You just never know what could happen in a day, a week, a month or next year. I don't advise anyone to put off capturing images of your family - there is a photographer for every budget.


Put me behind the camera ANYTIME. It was so hard being the client. A part of me wonders what my crazy clients are thinking, working with me multiple times in a year. A small, small part of me =) The whole ordeal was so stressful - finding the clothes, getting everything coordinated with Kelsey, getting everyone ready, hoping the kids would do okay...

Would I do it again?

In a heartbeat. No question, no hesitation.

It's one day - one hour. Nothing out dates a photo more than the addition of a new family member (can you believe Brody is three months old?!) so the need for new family photos was a necessary one. Kids grow up so fast - if you don't grab pictures of your family at least once a year you might miss that.

This whole experience of being the client has really made me appreciate those I photograph that much more. As photographers we always struggle internally with sometimes feeling undervalued for what we do, but families put in work too when it comes to a session. It's give and take, and now that I've "taken", I can't wait to give. I really want the next year at Kelli Brewer Photography to be about the experience for my clients. Keeping them updated, assuring their needs are met and they are prepared for their sessions. I want to show my clients I understand the sacrifice (financial, emotional, physical...) they make to work with me and show my appreciation by giving the best images I can produce and better customer service.

So, thank you Kelsey for my amazing new photos and my new outlook on working with my own clients. Both are priceless and I couldn't be more grateful!


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