Behind every smiling, perfect family portrait, with everyone in matching clothes, looking at the camera, and looking like they love each other is a stressed-out mom (or dad) who has spent what feels like months preparing for that vision of perfection. You’ve scoured the stores for matching outfits, fought with your kids to get them into them, and rushed out the door in a whirlwind in a desperate effort to make your family picture dreams a reality. Is that your family picture reality? Have you caught yourself looking at the pictures on your wall with the knowledge that they really, really need an update? But dreading the process so much that you can almost convince yourself to put it off for another year? Are you tired of feeling as though capturing memories is more stress than it’s worth? What if your family portrait session could be different?
How does this sound, instead of rushing around and stressing out about the details, you could enjoy the session with your family? It could even be, dare I say…fun? If that sounds almost impossible, then you’ve come to the right place. I’d like to help you transform your family portrait session from something you dread into something that you can genuinely enjoy. Consider these 8 tips to transform your family pictures once and for all. And maybe even give you a strategy for updating those pictures on your walls more often. By the end of it, you should have no doubts about reserving your family portrait session.
Tip #1: Leave Plenty of Time on the Day of your Family Portrait Sessions
“Alright, guys, let’s go.”
“I asked you to be dressed ten minutes ago.”
“Why aren’t you ready to go?!”
You’re dashing out the door, snagging the last few pieces of your clothing you need to be on your way, just hoping you make it to your family portrait session with everything you need. If you have daughters, you’re dragging a brush through their hair in a frenzy in a desperate effort to make them look their best in the space of just a few minutes.
If you have sons, you’re scraping dirt off of their faces with what feels like a shovel. Finally, you make it out the door, where you can only wish you had more hands time. Your family is all over the place, and at the moment, you’re not even sure you like each other very much, much less love each other enough to get cozy for some affectionate family portraits.
Here’s the thing: if you’re cramming family pictures into your schedule alongside Junior’s soccer game and Suzy’s ballet practice, in a desperate hurry to get it knocked off of your list so you can move on to the next activity, it’s going to be a stressful experience for everyone. Instead, schedule your family portrait session with plenty of time around them: time to get ready, time to get to the studio or location, and time to breathe.
When you plan accordingly and with room for the unexpected -yet expected- mishaps of a morning getting everyone portrait ready, you’ll find that it can actually be a fun experience that the entire family will enjoy—and if nothing else, you’re not arriving stressed, with frizzy hair and makeup that was applied using the car rear view mirror.
Tip #2: Momma Knows Best
Jessica has a meltdown if she doesn’t eat exactly at lunchtime. David takes a nap at 3 every day, and if he doesn’t, he’s a bear.
You know your kids best. When you schedule other activities, you do your best to plan and schedule around their needs.
You need to do the same thing when you schedule your family pictures. Take the time to really think about your kids. Sure, the “golden hour” is a great time to get gorgeous pictures outside, but it’s not worth it if it means your kids will be having a meltdown because they missed dinner.
I have a lot of experience when it comes to dealing with kids during family portrait sessions. Rest assured, I have developed a process that makes it as easy as possible for both you and the kids! I want everyone to have a positive experience when it comes to family portrait sessions, and this way we can avoid any meltdowns!
Your family portrait session is unique to your family, and your memories of this time should be happy and fun – not stressed out or frustrated. I’ll make sure that everyone is comfortable and will get the best shots of your family in the process!
Tip #3: Comfortable is Key
No one can smile their brightest when they’re stuffed into stiff, uncomfortable clothes that itch and scrape—or, worse, don’t fit. Instead of trying to plan your pictures around outfits that you and your family members hate wearing and will likely never wear again, choose comfortable clothes that show off your everyone’s personality. If you need guidance, I’ll be here to help you choose the most perfect outfits, minimizing stress on you and your family when it comes to wardrobe. Trust the process, when you’re all comfortable in your clothes, you immediately reduce the stress factor by ten.
Tip #4: You Are Not You When You’re Hungry, Neither Are Your Children
Arriving for your family portrait session tired or ill-fed won’t result in the best pictures. Instead, make sure every member of the family has a little snack before they take on the spotlight, you know where that leads… “ MOM, my head hurts!!”. Let’s try our best to avoid that at all costs! We want everyone to feel their best that way they can look their best.
Choose a light food that won’t weigh you down, make you bloat, or necessitate a run to the bathroom as soon as you reach your session, but make sure that everyone is taken care of as the session time approaches.
Tip #5: Is Bribery Really A Crime?
If you have a little one, you know that their behavior may vary drastically from one hour to the next. A child who was cheerful and excited about pictures when you arrived may wear down quickly. To keep that happy spirit going, consider bringing a few bribes with you.
A ziplock of their favorite cereal for example, or you know you can never go wrong with some good old fashion gummy bears (honestly anything that won’t lead to a sticky or crumby aftermath is A-okay) A treat in-between takes can ease the process of preventing any potential whines from your little ones. Besides, a little sugar here and there can’t hurt!
Tip #6: Leave The Cheese At Home
Parents often want to tell their kids to “Say cheese!” as they look toward the camera. Unfortunately, this can lead to some highly awkward expressions, especially if the kids don’t all say it at the same time. Instead, try being natural with one another and having fun together. You’ll be amazed by the difference in the expressions you get when you don’t try to script your kids’ responses.
I love to get to know the families that I work with during their design session so that I can get images that represent everyone and their personalities as accurately as possible. Candids are also a hot trend right now, during your family portrait session we will effortlessly bring the real organic smiles out of the whole family by the end of the day, and yes – even your grouchy spouse who didn’t want to come in the first place!
Tip #7: Picture Perfect Isn’t Always Perfect
Your family doesn’t have to be something out of a catalog, nor do you have to look like dozens of other perfectly-posed families on Pinterest. Instead, look for an opportunity to show the real and significant values your family shares. What is it that makes your family burst out in complete laughter? Your inside-jokes or is it reminiscing some of the good old’ memories you all have shared. Always, speak with your photographer about what makes your family unique, and brainstorm ways to include that in your session.
This is one of my check marks we hit in our design session, Even if it’s just a few small details you might think are insignificant, or something incredibly valued to your family, we can find a way to incorporate it in your family portrait session. This will all tie together, the more comfortable everyone is simply being themselves duringyour family session, the more radiant those framed portraits and albums will be, you won’t be able to find something like this anywhere else!
Tip #8: The Missing Piece Of the Puzzle…
Ultimately, your goal on the day of your session—and the tip that will take it from “survivable” to enjoyable—is to have fun! Bring along an activity that you love doing together as a family or come prepared to laugh, cut up, and enjoy each other. It’s always a pleasure to have the whole family included, even the older siblings that are just “too cool” for a family portrait and will complain along the way, you’ll see a smile out of them by the end of the day. All you need to commit to in the end is staying positive and going along with the flow your family has during the shoot.
This can be a learning process but, it will make the next family portrait session that much more natural and enjoyable. It’s that time of the year you want to remember everything you’ve been through with the ones you hold dearest and documenting that time does not have to be a dread. Whether you’re looking for the perfect photos for your Christmas cards or you just want to update the pictures on the wall, these tips will help you achieve the look you want without the stress.
I know you’re capable of survival and I know you and your family will make it all the way until those new portraits are up and hung on your wall. Reserve your family portrait session and contact me today to set the date to document your beautiful family.