How does a photoshoot in your own home work?

Louise had requested me to photograph her family, that is herself, her husband, and two children aged 5 and 8 years...

I had made an initial visit to see Louise in her home, and discussed the types of images she had in mind. We decided on 3 aspects to the photoshoot:

A white background studio styled shot of the whole family;

Some candid photos of her two children playing with some toys that she had hidden away until the day of the photoshoot, images possibly in black and white;

Outdoor shots of the family together and the children playing in the nearby woods.

I advised about clothing - try to keep the colours similar, adults in a more neutral colours. As it's in your own home, it's easy to have a change of clothing. And with children there is the convenience that it is easy to have a feed, nappy change etc.

On the day itself, Louise had done a quick tidy of the living room, but nothing too drastic, there was still a pile of lego in the corner, a pirate ship on the window sill, and Thomas the Tank Engine emerging from behind the TV.

Fortunately the studio can fit into a relatively small living room with some slight movement of one settee. 

The white background was up first - it's a pop-up background - easy to put up, a bit of a devil to get back in the bag!

Then the lights - two studio flashes with white brollies. The connection between the camera and the flash is wireless, so it's only power cables to the flash.

15 minutes later and it's all set, all I need is the family.

In my trusty camera bag I have a reliable team of glove puppets and squeaky (and even chuckling) toys, that help grab the attention of the children. It's always lively, and we try a variety of poses so that we have a selection to choose from.

While the family head off for a snack and a break, I pack up the studio and review the images captured so far.

Next location - the kitchen table, where some new playdough has been revealed, successfully engaging the children in their imaginative play. This enables me to capture some beautiful candid images of intense concentration and endearing close ups of busy hands. While the children are happily putting the playdough through its paces, Louise and her husband ask "Could you take a photo of just the two of us?"  "No problem, the £60 sitting fee is a fixed price for an infinite number of images".  We decide to try a daylight shot in the kitchen - as though they are cooking together.

Finally it's coats and boots on and off to the woods for a bracing walk and some outdoor photography.   The weather's a bit overcast, but we photographers prefer it like that for portraits as the light is soft, and the clouds are nature's giant diffuser of light.    The children have found some acorns to collect and play with, and this provides numerous opportunities for more candid photos. We finish with some whole family ones - everyone holding hands as they walk down the path towards me, and finally everyone arranged on and against a fallen tree.

The whole thing was about 2 and a half hours, but as I'm not charging by the hour, it doesn't really matter. The important thing is that hopefully I have captured the essence of the family in moments that they will treasure.

A week later, and Louise's album of 35 edited images is ready for her to view. I give her a cd of images that she can view at the computer, (not high enough resolution to print from, but fine for emails and websites). Other members of the family can also view the password controlled album on the website and order prints, frames, or high resolution files, and then pay online by Paypal, or send me an email and a cheque in the post..

Prints are presented in plain black mounts that can be stood up. Louise ordered four framed pictures for themselves, and her parents chose a frame with three prints in, one of the family, and one of each of the children either side.