9 Tips to Help You ROCK Your First Family Portrait Session

Family portraits are exciting. With any luck, you’ll get amazing pictures that you can hang on your walls for years to come: that perfect reflection of your family exactly as they are today, their smiles shining brightly for everyone to see.

Before you schedule your pictures, however, you want to be sure that you’re ready to rock them: that you’ll get just the shots you want, with happy smiles and a family that genuinely appears to love one another. Try these 9 key tips to help you ROCK your family portrait session.

Tip #1: Schedule Your Pictures Appropriately

If you’ve been doing research about family photography, you’ve probably heard plenty of things about the “golden hour” when everything seems to have a beautiful, golden glow outside and the lighting is perfect for all sorts of pictures. While the golden hour is a great time to take family pictures, make sure you choose a time that will work for you! You want to pick a time when you and your family will be relaxed and have time to enjoy the session, rather than scrambling to get out the door and rushing to get through the session so that you can get somewhere else. Leave plenty of time to take family pictures that you’ll fall in love with.

If you have small children, you may need to take their schedules into consideration, too. A portrait session right in the middle of naptime may yield nothing more than pictures of screaming kids and frustrated parents, while a session for well before nap time (or well after) will leave you with well-rested kids who look their best.

Tip #2: Prep the Kids (But Not the Way You Think)

You want your kids to smile brightly when the camera points their way. You want them to cooperate for the photographer. You want them to behave so that you don’t spend every minute of the session trying to corral them. While all of these are great goals, a lecture in the car on your way to the session can result in sullen kids who have trouble smiling on command. Instead, set up your family portrait session as something fun that you all get to do together!

Also, please don’t tell your kids to say “Cheese!” and smile. This doesn’t get the beautiful smiles you want and can lead to the same forced looks you get when you stop your kids and tell them to take a picture. Instead, let me take care of getting the smiles and poses you want. If you’re having fun, it will show in your pictures.

Tip #3: Pack a Bag

If you really want to rock your family portrait session, pack a bag to take with you. This bag is your quick fix for anything that doesn’t go according to plan. Include:

  • A change of clothes for each member of the family (just in case of accidents)
  • A hairbrush
  • Water for everyone
  • Little, mess-free snacks
  • Little toys for the kids to play with
  • Wet wipes

Tip #4: Make Your Session Unique

Your family is unlike any other. There are plenty of things that make you special: the hobbies you enjoy, the jokes you share, or the games you play together. Think about what makes your family special. I’d love to talk with you about it before your session and help you brainstorm some great ideas. We might be able to incorporate those concepts into your session, whether you all dress up in costume for a fun theme shoot or we capture some pictures of everyone playing your favorite game together. Incorporating your family’s interests will help make your pictures a little different and help you have even more fun during your session. We’ll get plenty of great, classic pictures, too!  

Tip #5: Be Flexible

You’ve picked the perfect outdoor location, but it’s raining on the day of your session. You had a perfect pose in mind that you just had to capture, but your kids really aren’t cooperating. If you’re rigid during your session, those simple factors can be deal-breakers. On the other hand, if you’re flexible, you can spend more time enjoying your session. Flexibility often yields creativity, which means that you’ll get great poses at a fantastic location—even if it wasn’t what you originally had in mind.

Tip #6: Take Breaks

When the kids get the wiggles or your smile starts to feel like it’s cracking, it’s time to take a break. Dig into your bag and check out those snacks you brought along with you, let the kids run around and check out the scenery for a little while, or walk around for a little bit and take a breather. Once you’ve rested for a few minutes, you (and the kids) will be able to get back to your session with smiles on your faces.

Tip #7: Turn Off the Phone

Do you really want to rock your family photo session? Here’s a pro tip: turn your phone off until the session is over. Chances are, nothing is going to happen during your session that you can’t deal with when it’s over. If you have your phone on you, it will be a distraction. You’ll be tempted to just “check your email” or “browse through Facebook for a minute.” Those distractions, however, will take your attention off of your family. You’ll probably have to drag yourself back to the session and force yourself to put your phone down. Turn it off or, even better, leave it in the car. It will be there when your session is done!

As an added note, let me take the pictures—even if I’m just posing the kids. All too often, parents end up in the way of those perfect shots, preventing me from capturing the professional images you’re looking for. I promise I’m going to share all those images with you!

Tip #8: Move Around a Little

During your session, it can be hard to stay engaged if you’re constantly standing in one spot, using only a few variations of the same pose. I want to keep you moving around, checking out the lighting in different locations and trying out new poses. It’s okay to wiggle around and have a little fun with your kids during the session. Some of the best pictures happen when you least expect it!

Tip #9: Focus on You

During your portrait session, it’s tempting to micromanage the kids. You want them to smile exactly the way you want them to or to turn and face the camera at just the right moment. If you’re in front of the camera, however, you need to be focused on you! Make sure that your pose is just right and that your smile is in place. Then, let me take care of the kids! That way, when they finally do give you that perfect smile, you won’t be the one who isn’t quite posed correctly. You’re also more likely to be critical of a picture that has you looking your worst, so focus on being sure that you’re taken care of so that you’ll be able to fall in love with your pictures when they come home.

Are you ready to get started with your family photo session? Are you excited by all of the opportunities and ready to start planning? Contact me today to set up a time for your family photo session.

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