For any session, one of the first things that I do is take a nice, timeless portrait of everyone. I find that works especially well for family sessions and/or any shoots with children. That way, you get the “tough” ones out of the way and we can focus on having fun & catching all of those candid shots for the rest of the time!
The Best Lighting
For maternity & family sessions, I always make an extra effort to make sure that we have really nice light. Golden hour (aka the hour before sunset) is hands down the prettiest. I usually suggest meeting a little bit before that so that we can everything ready and start right when the golden hour starts. I.E. I usually recommend meeting about between about an hour and a half before sunset.
In general, I go for a slightly more bright & airy feel for maternity & family sessions — I really maximize sunlight so it gives everything a beautiful soft glow. In post-production, I pay extra attention to skin and beauty retouching. Nothing crazy or over-the-top; just a special dose of TLC! If you have stretch marks, skin darkening, or any other unique physical characteristics, just let me know if you’d them retouched or kept in. Whatever you’d like!
Traditional vs Lifestyle
My overall style is a mix of traditional portraiture and photojournalistic lifestyle. Meaning, I take both formal portraits and candid shots. The overall feel is organic and in-the-moment — basically, we do what you would normally do and I take artistic photos while you’re doing it. This combination makes for such a great combination of photos. It’s a perfect snapshot of you & your family right here, right now.
I particularly love maternity sessions — they’re all about celebrating love & new life! It’s such a special time in your life, and a maternity shoot captures all of that beauty. Nature settings are especially popular for these types of shoots. Fields & flowers definitely pair very nicely with a baby bump! I always take a variety of photos for maternity sessions. Individual portraits, thoughtfully posed pictures, and fun candids of you as a couple. Of course, if you already have children then they are most definitely welcome to join! The same goes for any pets!
I love the energy of family sessions. There’s always a spontaneous quality to those shoots — you never quite know how a kid will react! I nearly always recommend beginning with the nicely posed pictures. Then everyone can relax for the rest of the session. I’ve done many shoots with infants and toddlers + the whole family. I usually try to get a combination of every pairing possible, but we can also just go with the flow. And if there are any specific groupings you want to do, just let me know!
When to Schedule
Maternity & family sessions can be done at any time of the year. A lot of my clients tend to do them later in the Fall so they can use them for Christmas cards. However, I definitely recommend avoiding the rush! Then you can have your photos ready to go and you can order when it’s convenient for you. As an added bonus, the scenery will likely be much prettier — especially if you opt for a date between March and June!
I LOVE sessions set in nature. Whether you want a more rustic vibe or a more elegant feel, there are SO many awesome places to use. From Malibu to Simi Valley to Santa Clarita to the San Fernando Valley to Pasadena, there are magical locations all over. There are also a number of spots on the Westside — Venice and Marina del Rey are two great ones! Specific favorites are El Matador State Beach, Solstice Canyon, Temescal Canyon, Franklin Canyon, Lake Balboa, Griffith Park, Atwater Village, Placerita Canyon, La Cañada Flintridge, and the Los Angeles Arboretum.
What to Wear
A long flowy dress is almost always a great choice for women. They drape so well and can be used for a variety of poses. They also tend to be quite flattering & comfortable. For men, jeans or slacks and a nice shirt are always good. For kids, a coordinating outfit is perfect. That’s the main thing for dressing multiple people — make sure that all of the colors blend well together. If you’d like some bright pops of color, a floral print can really be beautiful. And/or dress the kids in more colorful outfits!
How to Pose
I like to start things off with some easy, natural poses. Like I mentioned, that’s when I also try to get the “formal” portraits of the session. It also serves as an icebreaker and gets us in the groove. From there, I like to match the energy of everyone. So if it’s just you two for a maternity session, then we’ll chat & walk around a bit and find the best spots for your shots. If you have kids, then we’ll more or less stick to one main area and focus on them. Either way, I promise that we’ll get all kinds of cute, pretty, and timeless photos!
Samantha Turchin is a creative Los Angeles wedding, portrait, and lifestyle photographer. Based in the San Fernando Valley, she specializes in elegant, classic, and artistic photography. With a vibrant, dreamy, and romantic aesthetic, she creates unique photos that are both modern and timeless. Engagement | Elopement | Maternity | Family