Preparing for your Family Portrait Session

I wanted to start a series of blog posts that will detail and list out how to prepare for your portrait session with me! If you’ve booked a session with me in the past, I send this information to you via email, but I don’t have the ability to show pictures as well. So I wanted to write this out for you all! Hope it helps.

When preparing for your family portrait session, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, this is supposed to be FUN! Sessions with little children can be stressful. It’s stressful getting everyone ready and out the door on time, its stressful if they are running off during the shoot, not paying attention, not smiling, etc… You may even question at the end of your session “gosh, did we get ANY photos of them looking?” or “man, I hope we got SOMETHING!” If you can try and relax and have fun and let your kids be kids, and leave the photography part to me, I promise you will be pleasantly surprised by HOW MANY good photos we got! If everyone is having fun your images will be more joyful and you will walk away not just wondering how the pictures will turn out, but walk away actually enjoying the experience of the photo shoot. I love when families play, hug, kiss, cuddle and explore… this is when some of the best photos are taken. I do my best to make it fun for everyone! We will focus on knocking out the “must have” photos and then we let lose, let the kids run around and play and I will follow them, play around with light and gently instruct at this point to get some photos of your children being who they are because their personalities will come out more when they are having fun!

Ok, so here are some steps to help you prepare:

1. Location and Time: The best time to shoot any portraits is normally 2 hours after sunrise or 2 hours before sunset. This rule of thumb can be applied to any time of the year. When it comes to picking the location for your portraits, I love shooting portrait sessions in locations that mean something to my clients! I understand that this isn’t always possible but I like to throw it out there just in case! For example: The family in the photo below LOVES doing their family portraits at their home. This lake is across the street directly in front of them. This is where they do family walks every day, this is where they are comfortable and it MEANS something to them. They love looking back at their images every year in the same places to see how their children have grown. I LOVE this!

2. Outfits: The best I advice I can give here is do not match! This is very important. You do not want to be perfectly matching but COORDINATING. Pick a few colors that coordinate and go from there. Avoid really bold/bright colors such as red and bright pink (if you want to use one of these colors, I suggest a burgundy (in place of red) or muted soft pinks. Having a pop of bright pink in your jewelry or a portion of the outfit, is fine.) Textures, patterns and layers are all great and give depth to the photo. For the girls in the family I love dresses or skirts, this gives movement to the photo. Mom, consider wearing heels as this helps elongate the legs! I love using little girls hair for them to swing around and play with, consider leaving it down or mostly down. Dad’s look great in nice pants (or even nice jeans), close toed shoes and button up shirts, collard shirts, sports coats, sweaters, etc. Avoid shorts for Dad’s and flip flops. Little boys look great in all the things recommended for Dad too, but I don’t mind little boys in shorts. Consider bow ties, ties, hats, etc… as accessories for boys! Most importantly, be comfortable! Below are some examples of outfits and I will put my comments above each image.

Colors are all coordinating, no one is perfectly matching. I LOVE this dress on Kelli cause it makes her look feminine, the long maxi is flowy so it adds movement to the photo and the floral pattern is perfect. The sports jackets on Curt was a perfect way to layer. He kept it casual to by putting it over a basic t-shirt. Two of the boys are in solids and the third in a pattern which broke it up a bit. Love this entire look!

Boys in blue but broken up nicely with different shades and patterns. Mom looked BREATHTAKING in this gorgeous yellow dress that was very complimentary to the blue. Like I said before the maxi dress is very flattering and provides lots of movement.

It can be challenging to coordinate clothing for an extended family shoot but this family rocked it! They chose “earth tones” and while they all are in a different shade, they all coordinate beautifully.

Katie is much more comfortable in jeans than a dress, so she did a great job keeping it feminine with the floral print and still had nice movement with the lose flowing top. And I can’t get enough of her little guy in those jeans!! Great colors!

This gorgeous boy momma looked wonderful in her dress and I loved how she added her jean jacket! Boys in patterns and button up shirts and Dad in the solid color sweater was perfect to break up the pattern in the boys shirts.

And this has to be one of my favorite boy outfits of all times! Mom nailed it here and he looks like he should be in a Baby Gap catalogue. The layers with the button up shirt under the sweater, the jeans and those shoes! Perfection!

Like I said before, I love little girls in dresses. This simple portrait is so beautiful simply by her playing with her dress. Love it.

This is why I suggest little girls to have their hair down!! Love when they move it around back in forth in the light!

Lets be real, Florida is hot and its very rare we can do the cute winter clothes with all the layers! This is a great example of a simple sun dress, with a great pattern and the cow girl boots to add detail and texture!

And last, but certainly not least, I will NEVER say no to flower crowns! 🙂

Things to bring: Bring water (for everyone) and snacks for the children. Special treats for the kids to use as “bribes” does help, must avoid m&m’s because the chocolate and color stain the mouth. Smarties, jelly beans, gummies, etc are better options. Bring bug spray!! This is so important in Florida. Sometimes we just can not avoid the mosquitoes. If you have little ones, bring a stroller. This helps so you aren’t carrying them the entire time and gives you a place for all your snacks/drinks, etc.

What NOT to bring – 🙂 If your child as a favorite toy, blanket or stuffed animal, PLEASE consider leaving these in the car. Sometimes parents will bring to comfort the child and give them a distraction, but more times than not the child refuses to put it down and that beloved stuffed doggie ends up in your family photos! (If you are OK with this, then I am OK with this… but if you prefer it to not be in photos, then try and leave it in the car.)

Being on Time: Give yourself plenty of time to get ready at home so you aren’t stressing about leaving on time. Allow a few extra minutes in your travel in case of traffic. While I give us PLENTY of time to get all the pictures we need, we obviously can only keep going until the sun sets.

 Lastly, Relax and Trust me! It’s my job to instruct you into poses, its my job to do everything I can to get natural smiles and laughter from your children, its my job to make sure everyone is looking during family shots, its my job to be creative and its my job to get you the family photos you want.

I hope those tips were helpful! As always, if you have any other questions, feel free to send me an email!

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