Hello & welcome to the blog! I'm Angela Norton, and I'm a family, senior, & wedding photographer based in North Central Florida. I'd love for you to relax a while here, and enjoy reading the ANP stories. You'll also find resources for your next session or wedding!
Planning is the key to having a successful family session! No matter the type of photography session you have scheduled, here are 5 tips that will maximize your shooting time, boost the experience, and be my dream client!
is not just about scheduling, it’s really about the light. If your session is outdoors, I’ve very intentionally chosen your start time. I’ve considered sunrise/sunset, studied your questionnaire answers, anticipated the needs of the individuals participating, scrutinized the forecast, all to give you the best results possible. So, if we start late, we typically won’t stay late.
Pampering yourself before your session is a great way to relax and feel even more gorgeous. If you opt to get your hair and make up professionally done for your session, allow plenty of time for you to enjoy the treatment! If you have daughter(s), this can make for a really special time together!
Small details like having manicured nails and the right colored socks help ease stress, so consider setting out your family’s outfits the night before, or morning of, while making sure you have every accessory you want ready! Check out my article on Wardrobe Tips for Your Family Photography Session for more details.
If you have little ones, I advise you to not make other plans for the day. Inevitably, kids will get tired, mom will be rushing, and everyone will be just a little bit over it. I also recommend late afternoon naps for little ones (and maybe even dad!).
Feed everyone prior to the session. I can’t tell you how many times the teenagers are starving and it shows on their face towards the end.
Schedule plenty of time to get dressed. If you are rushing around, and anxious prior to the session, this will set the tone for the rest of your family. Focus instead, on being ahead of schedule and sending good vibes to your crew!
If you’re wondering about how you can make your experience personal and memorable, feel free to bring along any props that are special to you. I want your session to scream YOU, so if that means bringing your four legged friend along or props that tell your story, please do! We can incorporate them into your photos in a fun way! Maybe it’s something from your wedding day, maybe it’s a sport you love or an old photograph that is special. Whatever you want in your photos, I’ll do my best to make it happen!
Another great idea is to bring an activity that ya’ll enjoy together. It could be a food, hobby, or game. Or, it could be something ya’ll like do, like piggy back rides, ring around the rosie, or eskimo kisses.
Most likely you are not a professional model or social media superstar who gets paid to pose. That’s where I come in! I’ll get ya’ll into positions, where you are comfortable and relaxed. I’ll also always be watching to make sure you are holding yourself in a flattering position.
And really, feeling awkward is sometimes the funniest part of it all. Just imagine…. You are all decked out, strolling through a field of wildflowers, lovingly looking at each other, holding hands, kids are clean….. perfectly normal right? Haha! Just thinking about it makes me laugh!
I think that was a lot more than 5 tips for a successful family session!
And just remember, we will be totally flexible, following your family’s lead. And believe me, no matter how good we prepare, we will surely have surprises along the way!
Planning is the key to having a successful family session!
“What should we wear?” is the #1 question I get. I truly understand because I’ve been there! Here are some wardrobe tips for your family session.
And I’ll be totally honest here…. I am no fashionista, so when I’m in need of answers, I go to the internet and get ideas!
Here’s one of my Pinterest boards for a Spring session. I just enter ‘wardrobe inspiration’ or ‘what to wear’, and there are so many talented people who have done the work for me!
Choose your inspiration piece. It could be a sentimental object, favorite accessory, or the outfit that you love. It could also be a prop, or better yet, a location.
One important thing to consider when choosing your color theme, is to make sure it matches your homes aesthetic. You also will want to consider the time of day you are taking your photos. Here is an article I wrote on Color Theory + Color of Light.
Go online and create searches like, “portrait color scheme fall (or winter, beach, spring, gray & yellow, woods, pinks, preppy, etc.)”. Pick a scheme that will go with your planned location and session time.
You can also plan your own color scheme by using the color wheel and color theory!
Typically moms outfit is decided on first. Then the others are built around it. Solid colors are usually a little more flattering, but a print layered with a cardigan would work nicely too. And mom, this would be a great time to treat yourself to professional hair and makeup! When you are feeling extra pretty and confident, it reflects on the rest of the family as well.
Layers are key to making a look really soar and adding flair. Your accessory list could include: sweater, vest, scarf, jewelry, headband, hair bow, belt, tights, hat, the list goes on. These various accessories can be changed during the session and offer us more looks during a set. Bring extra!
Dads tend to like a classic, easy look. Often his outfit is more neutral and anchors the group. A nice plaid that contains the color scheme could be perfect. Just let him wear what he’s comfortable in. Trust me, you would rather him be comfortable and happy in your photos, then not. His agony will shine through 😉
By now you have the colors, patterns, and textures set. Here is where you’ll add another pop of color. I suggest a barrette or bow to hold back hair for kids. As we move and play, it’s nice to have her face in view and not having to keep brushing away strays.
Also, I strongly recommend you work with the kids on what they want to wear! Strive to find middle ground, because they don’t want to wear something they hate any more than you do. And I promise, the uneasiness will translate into the picture!
WHAT TO BRING
-Change of clothes for kids
-Touch up makeup
-Lint roller (if you’re in dark colors)
I hope I’ve given you some useful wardrobe tips for your family session!
Here are some wardrobe tips for your family session.
So what does a wedding day timeline really look like?
You know, everything just takes longer than you think it will. So many people are involved in each step of the day, and it just takes time to mobilize various groups of people throughout the day.
To help the events of the day to run smoothly, you’ll want a detailed timeline to follow. It also serves as a checklist to make sure everything, and everyone is remembered!
When starting to plan your timeline, you’ll start with the hair and makeup of the bridal party, allowing a minimum of 15 minutes per person. If one person is doing both hair and makeup, allow 30 minutes per person. Remember to account for moms, grandmas, & flower girls. Your professional stylists will give you a custom timeline for your party.
If I am your photographer, I’ll be arriving about 30 minutes prior to the brides hair and makeup being done. I’ll get detail shots of the invitation, flowers, jewelry, etc.
If you are getting ready at another location from your ceremony site, add time to get there. A few quick searches on Google Maps will do the trick!
Mom needs to be dressed and ready before the bride is getting into her gown, because she’ll be in pictures next. We’ll get the detail shots of mom and/or maid of honor helping with the dress, this takes about 15 minutes. We need another 20 minutes to take portraits of the bride, alone. Then another 20 minutes for the bridesmaids portraits.
Allow 45 minutes for these pictures. You can overlap this time with the Bride and Bridesmaids time if you have a second shooter. And again, account for any travel time between locations. We will take pictures of the groom with his mom, dad, and best man helping him get ready.
I can usually get these photos done quicker than an hour, but let’s face it…. The guys are rarely ready on time! I say that with good humor, but it’s still true. I usually jump over and grab some reception shots, if we are near, while someone else is hounding the guys to finish up.
I recommend taking a moment to allow the bride and her dad, or whoever is walking her down the aisle, to see each other, alone. It’s an opportunity for them to be themselves, and for dad to get a good look at his baby girl. Dad is usually just doing what he’s told throughout this whole crazy wedding planning process, and this gives him the honor of having time set aside just for him. It will take about 15 minutes.
If ya’ll choose to do a first look, we’d take care of that next. Allow 15 minutes for a moment alone, and a few moments to touch up any makeup on the bride (including the lipstick transferred to the groom!); then we’ll spend about 20 minutes on photos.
Whether before (if doing a first look) or after the ceremony, the entire wedding party photos will take about 20 minutes.
The family photos will take 2 – 3 minutes per group. To help with the process, you’ll want a loud and firm person to work the shotlist. Prior to your wedding day, we will have created a shot list with an efficient workflow.
I’m sure your ceremony will start exactly on time, but go ahead and save yourself some gray hairs and add an extra 15 minutes to your timeline here! Plan 20 – 60 minutes for your ceremony.
This hour is created to entertain and feed your guests, at a location other than where dinner is being served, while we take any group photos that haven’t already been done.
Since it’s not too much fun for them to go straight to a table and just sit and stare at each other, give them something to do! This is a GREAT time for the second shooter to take a lot of pictures of your guests, so we really don’t want them at their table yet.
We’ll slip away for about 20 – 30 minutes for gorgeous sunset pictures. This is a chance for the bride and groom to have an alone moment, and breath each other in, and talk about the joy of their day. And here’s where it’s important to be on track with your wedding day timeline… The sun doesn’t wait for us! These pictures need to happen at a specific time.
Allow 15 minutes for your bridal party introductions, rolling right into your first dance, then the music fades and either you, or your dj, welcomes and thanks your guests for coming and say blessings.
Depending on how you are serving dinner, buffet line vs servers, allow around 45 minutes.
This should take about 10 minutes, and be done just as guests are finishing up dinner.
Rolling right into dances, allow 10 minutes here. You can choose whether to play an entire song, or shorten it. This marks a great transition to open the dance floor and get your party started!
If you so choose, these activities (barring no one gets too crazy) should take only 15 minutes. This is also a great opportunity for you to say a few words and thank your guests for coming.
And that’s about it for the standard events during a wedding day!
You wedding day timeline is a must have tool for you, and several others, to use on your big day.
If you want to nerd out with me, I’ve got a geeky spreadsheet for us to play with timeframes and activities.
So what does a wedding day timeline really look like? You know, everything just takes longer than you think it will. So many people are involved in each step of the day, and it just takes time to mobilize various groups of people throughout the day. To help the events of the day to run […]
We were blessed with a great evening for this rustic summer teen session. I love Summer nights! Yea, it’s hot and humid here in Florida, but we can stay out late and get the most out of our beautiful skies.
One of the things I love the most about photographing high schoolers, is their willingness to try anything, and entertain seemingly crazy ideas! Tori is no exception! She was running through mud, jumping fields, and dabbing the sweat in between.
You see, creating a timeline for any session is a little bit of an art. I have to calculate location & outfit changes, sunset, golden hour, blue hour, etc. Then I have to assess the client, and create the timeline based on their individual goals, stamina, and needs. So I know I can push a teen a bit longer. They are typically very invested in working hard to get a great picture. So we actually did Tori’s session starting at golden hour and ending at dark.
It was phenomenal.
It helped that we’d had a hard rain just prior to her session, and that always perks everything up. That’s also why, here in Florida, I don’t reschedule sessions for rain until the very last minute. Quite often, our most beautiful evenings happen after a rainstorm!
I really admired how Tori was willing to work for some of these pictures, and I really, really enjoyed working with her! I absolutely loved this rustic teen summer session, and the results speak for themselves!!
And if you like the idea of a farm session, please go check out the Farm section of the blog.
We were blessed with a great evening for this rustic summer teen session. I love Summer nights! Yea, it’s hot and humid here in Florida, but we can stay out late and get the most out of our beautiful skies. One of the things I love the most about photographing high schoolers, is their […]
Your engagement session is your first chance to tell the world your story! It’s your time to get pictures for your save-the-date cards, gallery images for your wedding day, and wall art for your home together.
As part of my wedding collections, I offer complimentary engagement photos. This is the time where I really get to know my couples, and connect before the big wedding day. Since the wedding day is typically so fast paced, is super helpful if you already know what I’m going to ask for during our short portrait moments.
So, here’s a few tips I’ve learned throughout the years, to take your engagement session to the next level!
Yep, that’s right. We are documenting is you as a couple. That includes how you look at each other with those goo-goo eyes and how you interact together. And don’t worry, will surely get the smile at the camera pictures for grandma!
You don’t always have to go in for the kiss, although I will encourage plenty of smooching, sometimes you’ll just breathe each other in. Relax, and enjoy a calm moment together.
We are there to have a good time. Taking photos might feel awkward, and sometimes the poses feel weird. So we’ll laugh a lot! I encourage you to talk to each other, tell jokes, whisper nothings into each others ears, and just keep it light!
I encourage you to talk to each other prior to the session and make sure ya’ll are on the same page. Find out what your fiance is, and is not comfortable doing in front of the camera.
If you can’t decide what to wear, just bring the extra outfit! You can change or add as we go along. And even if we don’t use it, it’ll be there if you want it.
This is a time to focus on you as a couple. These are the images you will look back on many decades from now, and see yourselves before you were spouses!
Your engagement session is your first chance to tell the world your story!
Wild and free. Just like a great family session should be. These kids are so full of life, they made me feel young again.
We laughed and played, and enjoyed watching the kids explore. We got those safe, smile-at-the-camera shots out of the way, and then we let them be free. They harvested all the blackberries I think. That was a lot of fun watching them hunt! Then they found a snakeskin, which scared me, but they LOVED. And that sweet little angel girl liked chasing me with it!!
And to think I was a little extra nervous going into this session because Megan is such an accomplished photographer! (Check out her work over at The Halcyon Days Photography.) I had nothing to fear with this bunch.
My pasture has the most beautiful golden light at certain times of the year, and I always try to hold sessions here whenever I can. Especially if my client requests golden backlight, like Megan did.
As you will see, we had wonderful weather. Just enough clouds to filter the sun, and give us a gorgeous sky. We had already had a lot of rain, so everything was clean and green. Not to say that we weren’t dodging cow patties, here and there!
We had an absolute blast during their session! Everything seemed to work out perfectly.
Morriston Florida Farm
Your photography session is a great excuse, ahem, I mean reason to pamper yourself! Just imagine… you, alone with your stylist, chatting about your life, getting loved on, and feeling beautiful.
I promise you, the more gorgeous you feel, the more gorgeous you look. And your amazing feelings about yourself, really shines through in the images.
Now I am the first one to say that you absolutely don’t need to spend money on new clothes, when you most likely already have the perfect outfit in your closet. However! This is a fun way to treat yourself. You can also look into online clothing rental companies as well. Rent the Runway offers a huge selection of expensive clothing that you can rent! Isn’t that super cool!
Several years ago, I had my makeup professionally done for the first time for my own session. I felt amazing! And since then, I’ve had it done professionally every time. Pro’s know how to make you glow on camera, since they use special camera-loving products.
Your hands are such an important part of a photograph. So much is communicated through your body language, and especially hands. Make sure your nails look their best, and you’ll be ready for any shot we want to take!
It’s fun to simply gets some curls or a fun braid on the day of your session. A fresh color or cut can make you feel amazing too. Although I recommend having color services done several days prior your session, just to let it settle. Guys should do their haircuts several days prior to the session as well.
Lock the doors. Turn off the phones. Make your bath a little extra, by adding essential oils, epsom salts, and some candles.
I’ll be the first to admit, I really didn’t believe in massages…. Until I had a good one. Stress takes a toll on your body, in ways you may not even realize. Even a single massage session has been shown to significantly lower heart rate, cortisol and insulin levels – all of which help reduce daily stress.
If you need any more reasons to pamper yourself, just call me! I can always think of a new reason to give yourself a little TLC!
I promise you, the more gorgeous you feel, the more gorgeous you look.
I just love engagement sessions! First of all, we are doing the session at such a pivotal moment of your lives. Second, we get to have a play day while ya’ll are in the midst of your busy wedding planning. Third, I love that we get to tell the story of two people becoming one.
The ‘what should I wear to my engagement session’ question is the most common question I get asked. So, here’s the answers to your wardrobe dilemmas with some great examples!
Now’s not the time to pull out a beaded ball gown if you’re a T-shirt and jeans kind of couple. You should still look like yourself! Skip logos and words as they draw the eye. On the other hand, dress up if you want. This is a time to be fun, creative, and show a different side of you. After all, your engagement session is a special occasion!
Look for complementary colors and solid prints. Pick 2 or 3 colors that are flattering for both, and work them into each outfit.
Try to stay away from anything too busy, as it can be distracting in photos. You can choose to keep it simple, with subdued colors, solids, and muted prints which can help convey the couples connection. Conversely, don’t be afraid of color, if that is you. I love jump off the page imagery, that conveys energy and excitement.
You want your faces and the love between you to be the highlight! You’ll want to avoid anything neon, you’ll look like a hot, blinking sign, I also find orange is the least photogenic color, while white and red draws your eye. So consider wearing pastels, cool hues, or neutral tones, then add a pop of bright color with your accessories.
Once you have an idea of what colors you’ll be wearing in your engagement photos, consider how that color will translate throughout the entire collection of photos. You want to create synergy, rather than have the final result look like a random collection of images.
Women can express themselves most through accessories. Layering and accessories, such as a scarf, chunky necklace, or belt, adds the “wow” factor. Plus, they’re easy to slip on and off, which means you’ll have a variety of looks with a single outfit. Adding in at least one accessory per outfit for the ladies, and wearing layers of clothing for the guys, are two things that photograph well because it adds more visual interest to their looks.
I recommend looks that will remain timeless, rather than outfits that could make your images feel dated a few years down the road. Timeless doesn’t mean dreary! If your style is trendy, using classic shapes can make the color or pattern of the season more agreeable for years to come.
Don’t fall victim to treating your engagement session as a fashion photo shoot. Two outfits is more than enough to reflect your style, and it insures you won’t spend your entire session in a rush to change into the next set of clothes.
8. Flatter Your Figure
Accentuate your womanly assets. Here are some go-to tips:
Pear-Shaped: To show off your curves, focus on cinching the waist with an A-line design that flares at the bottom. Add a short statement necklace, or a top with interesting details at the shoulder and neckline to draw the eye.
Hourglass: Vertical lines are flattering, such as a v-neckline or a long necklace. Wrap dresses and boot leg pants are great choices.
Apple-Shaped: An A-line style with a gradual flow from the waist to the legs is always flattering. This shape is also great for a dress with ruching at the waist and/or a deep V-neck. The best pants for this type are a graduated flare.
Busty: Scoop and sweetheart necklines offer support and open up the décolletage so the focus is on the face rather than the bust.
Small Chest: Look for textured or ruched styles to create fullness in the chest area.
Plus Size: Engagement photos featuring an empire waist dress are usually great! They’re super flattering and emphasize the smallest portion under the bust, creating the effect of a slender silhouette from top to bottom.
Universally flattering options: All body types look gorgeous in wrap tops, a-line skirts, and jackets cinched at the waist.
Incorporating striking fabrics (think lace, fur, leather, etc.) will add a ton of visual texture, which in turn brings more warmth to your images. Use texture in unexpected ways, with lace, corduroy, denim, and knits. It will add an element of surprise to the image.
The details for him matter, especially because there are fewer of them. Make sure his shirt and pants are clean and well-pressed — no dingy whites. Shoes should be free of dirt and shined. Socks should match the pants, not the shoes. Nothing like a white athletic sock peeking out from a pair of khakis to throw off a whole shot.
-Touch up makeup
-Lint roller (if you’re in dark colors)
Hopefully that answers your “what should I wear to my engagement session?” question! You can find more Portrait Session resources on my blog.
I love that we get to tell the story of two people becoming one.
Amanda and Sam’s wedding on a beautiful beach in Cedar Key Florida was the most exciting wedding I’ve ever been to! We were dodging rain, and chasing the sun.
Amanda and Sam were friends first. Helping each other when life really threw some curveballs. And since the day they got engaged, I’ve been looking forward to their wedding. Amanda is a creative and I just knew she was going to make the day special and totally unique to their story.
And everyone involved just kept putting one foot in front of the other, and moving forward. Luckily they have tons of family and friends who adore them, because everyone pitched in to help save the flying decorations, and place the last minute decoration details. We actually didn’t know if the ceremony could even take place on the beach until moments before start time!
And, what do you do when a huge thunderhead is barreling towards your guests, while your saying your vows? Well, everyone prayed a lot!
The ceremony took place on the beach, just like Amanda dreamt it would. And, right after the ceremony all the guests helped move chairs and decorations, because that thunderhead was about to hit! The sky got even blacker, and thankfully we all got settled into the reception all just before the storm! It was quite awesome how it all worked out!
Amanda and Sam kicked off the reception with a special dance they had traveled to Orlando to learn and practice. It was so exciting! They were all smiles and giggling and really put on a great show for us! The reception dance floor was packed all night. Everyone, young and old, had a wonderful evening of fun and fellowship.
We tried a few times to get outside and get their bridal pictures, but the rain just wouldn’t let us; until finally at sunset we snuck out for a few magical frames! Since we got just a few bridal portraits of Sam and Amanda, we met back up for a romantic Bridal Session a few weeks after the wedding! Check out that beautiful story!
Together Sam and Amanda make a fierce team, and complement each other very well. A match made in heaven!!! I’m very grateful that I got to document their truly special day.
Ceremony Venue: Cedar Key Beach
Reception Venue: Cedar Key Community Center
Hotel Accommodations: Cedar Cove
Coordinators & Lead Decoration Artists: Terri Breeden, Mackenzie Henderson
Photographer: Angela Norton Photography
Videographer: Platinum Digital Video
Cake Artist: Ann Marie Hutson
Caterer: Side Dish Catering
DJ: Lewis Stokes
MakeUp Artist: D.J. Rivera
Hair Artist: Sabrina Brice
Bridal Gown: Solutions Bridal Designer House
Bridal Gown Designer: Estee Couture Bridal
Belt & Headpiece: Untamed Petals
Transportation: Milts Golf Carts
Cedar Key Beach Wedding
You really wish you just didn’t have to say it! Letting your guests know that your ceremony will be unplugged, ahead of time, is a great way to prevent potential hazards.
If you have hired me as your photographer, you’ll have all your images in a format that can be easily shared with your friends and family. This way, with confidence, you can ask for your guests to remain unplugged throughout the ceremony, while assuring them that they will receive ceremony images!
Here are a few ideas to help you get the word out.
Once the officiant is mic’d up, and right before the groom comes to join him or her is a great time to make some housekeeping announcements.
“Welcome, friends and family! Good evening, everyone. Please be seated. Dan and Jennifer invite you to be truly present at this special time. Please, turn off your cell phones and put down your cameras. The photographer will capture how this moment looks — I encourage you all to capture how it feels with your hearts, without the distraction of technology. If Dan can do it, then so can you.” – Huffington Post
“As we tie the knot, please be our guest. Our photographer will take care of the rest!”
“Welcome! We’ve hired a photographer to capture how this moment looks with their camera, so you can capture how it feels with your hearts.”
“Welcome to our unplugged wedding! We invite you to be fully present with us during the ceremony. Please turn off all cell phones and cameras.”
“The bride and groom kindly request an unplugged ceremony.”
“We’re happy to share our professional wedding photos later, but the greatest gift you can give us today is just being fully here with us in this sacred and special moment.”
If you’d like to go a bit more direct, include an easy to understand graphic in your program. If you’d like this one, you can download it!
“We’re so glad you’re here! Please stow away your phones and cameras until the reception. We promise to share the beautiful pictures taken today.”
Check out this hilarious, and a little shocking, compilation of images from weddings where cell phone usage got way out of hand. 23 Reasons to have an Unplugged Wedding.
You really wish you just didn’t have to say it! Letting your guests know that your ceremony will be unplugged, ahead of time, is a great way to prevent potential hazards. If you have hired me as your photographer, you’ll have all your images in a format that can be easily shared with […]