The Journal

4 Tips For A Successful Family Portrait Session

August 31, 2023

Family of 6 walking along Princess Beach in Destin, Fl.

Standard Portraits First

The very first thing I do when I begin a family portrait session is capture the standard portrait- everyone looking at the camera smiling! Typically little ones start out content and calm so I like to capture this portrait when everyone is in a good mood. I also like to capture these photos first because these poses are a little more stiff and require a bit more concentration from the kiddos. This ensures that you get the family portrait you’ll want to put on your Christmas card or hang up without having to resort to any bribery (yet ;)).

Go with the energy of the littlest people

After we’ve gotten those standard portraits, I love to go with the energy of the little ones. If they are feeling particularly shy or just want to be held by momma, then I like to keep the posing simple and easy until they’ve warmed up and are ready for more movement centered prompts. Conversely, if your little ones are high energy- let them run and play! You’ll be sure to get those joyful candids and photos full of movement and when they need breaks, we can switch back to some more calmer, posed portraiture.

I’ve often found that difficulties and meltdowns are more frequent if little ones are pushed to be calm and still while they are energized or pushed to perform when they are feeling shy and nervous. Going with the flow of their energy is sure to make for a more enjoyable session all around.

Bring snacks and water

This is a no brainer! A family portrait session typically can go as long as 45min- 1hr so it’s helpful to bring a small snack and some water for the kiddos. This is helpful for any dips in energy and is often a nice incentive for your littles. Unless this kids are loving their session and it’s just flowing perfectly, I like to let my clients enjoy a little snack and sip of water about halfway through so it breaks up the session for them and allows them to replenish some energy. (Make sure to bring snacks that they won’t spill onto their outfits that you spent hours agonizing over!)

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Have an infant that needs a nursing break? Did your little one trip and fall and need a couple of minutes and some hugs to recover? Your toddler keeps pulling her bow out? Don’t sweat the small stuff. A good family photographer will give you that nursing break, capture those sweet moments of comfort between you and your little one, and take advantage of photographing those sweet moments while a mother fixes her child’s hair. Those unplanned moments can allow for some of the sweetest photos full of connection.

Do these tips help? Have any tips of your own that have helped during your family portrait session? Feel free to share in the comments below! And if you’re having trouble choosing outfits for the whole family, here are some helpful tips when pulling together cohesive outfits for your session.

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