7 Steps Toward a Successful Family Portrait Session

7 Steps Toward a Successful Family Portrait Session

7 Steps Toward a Successful Family Portrait Session

Surviving a family portrait session can be a stressful experience.  There is a tremendous amount of planning that goes into capturing that perfect family portrait that you will hang over your mantle or send out in your family’s holiday cards.  They are a timeless keepsake for future generations.  The time spent gathering everyone together, picking just the right outfits and planning all the little details is not lost on me. This can be stressful!

There is a fine line between a perfect portrait session and total chaos.  Sometimes you can’t really tell the difference but a great photographer can and is able work quickly and effectively to make sure you capture the images you will treasure.  We can’t always control our child banging his head on a corner and arriving at the photosession with a big bruise on his forehead but there are somethings we can control that can dramatically impact everyone’s attitudes and experience during the session.

  1.  Timing is EVERYTHING.  I cannot stress that enough, especially when working with small children.  Make sure that you work around nap schedules and meal times.  Small children usually cannot stretch a nap time or put off a meal for “just a few more minutes”.
  2. Get Enough Sleep.  A well rested child is usually a happy child and happy children take beautiful portraits.  The same goes for all of the other members of the family.  We all act better and are happier when we aren’t tired.
  3. Bribery is important.  I use bribery often in my sessions with clients.  It amazing what a three year old (or Dads for that matter)  will do for a smartie candy.  Talk to your photographer if you have any specific dietary restrictions or allergies.  Most of us have candy with us at all times and will use it freely if it helps get the results we need.
  4. Relinquish Control – as much as you might want to direct your family in posing and facial expressions, trust your photographer to take care of that and do what they do best.  If you think your child will act better if you aren’t around, feel free to leave the room or walk away for a few minutes.   Telling a child to smile a certain way or continually correcting a spouse can really effect the mood of the session.
  5. It really isn’t about the posing.  The best family portraits happen when people are relaxed, having fun and are truly enjoying themselves.  It is ok to joke around, play with your children and let the love you have for your family show.
  6. Plan ahead – Discuss all your requirements with your photographer ahead of time.  Give them time to plan out your session so that they can meet all your requests.  I take a significant amount of time planning my sessions so having all the information ahead of time is helpful.  Make sure we know if you have specific combinations or images in mind. I handle all that in the pre-session questionnaire I send out to all my clients.
  7. Keep the sugar levels up.  Really!  As well as being well rested and being well fed is key,  No one is happy when they are hungry.  Bring some snacks and some water for everyone.  Many times just taking a break for a little snack is all we need to finish out a session that was losing a bit of steam.

7 Steps Toward a Successful Family Portrait Session


Are you planning a Family Portrait session?  I would love to speak with you and help you plan a custom session that shows off your beautiful family.

Contact me online here:  Dorie Howell Photography Contact Page

OR, Find me on Facebook here:  Dorie Howell Photography on Facebook

OR,  check our my website here:  Dorie Howell’s official website

OR – pick up the phone and give me a call.  I would love to hear from you!  703.766.8399

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