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  • Jennifer Bowen

7 Tips for a Successful Family Portrait Session


Family portrait sessions are a fantastic way to capture the essence of your loved ones and create lasting memories. But most parents know they can also be a little stressful to plan, coordinate, and pull off!


To ensure a successful and enjoyable experience, here are seven tips for a great family portrait session:


1. Plan and Communicate: After you have selected your photographer because you love their style and work shown on their website / social media (including how they edit), then be sure and communicate your vision or any specific goals with your photographer.


Share the locations or the general look and feel you are going for, or if you have definite styling ideas so your photographer can help tailor the session to your unique family.


Communicating your preferences and discussing your family's dynamics can help your photographer ensure you have a successful session.



2. Coordinate Clothing Colors and Palettes: Selecting the right clothing colors can significantly enhance the overall aesthetic of your family portraits. Coordinate outfits, focusing on complementary colors and avoiding clashing patterns or bright, distracting prints. Opt for a color palette that harmonizes with your location, season, and desired mood. Neutrals, pastels, or coordinating shades work well for a cohesive and timeless look.


Uncomfortable clothing or styles that really aren't you can also affect your family's mood and expressions during the session. Choose clothes that allow freedom of movement and ensure everyone feels at ease. This will help create a relaxed and joyful atmosphere, resulting in authentic smiles and interactions.





3. Keep Makeup & Hair Styling Natural to YOU: While most women opt to wear a little more makeup than their "every day look" (since the camera can wash people out) it's best to keep makeup on the more natural side since exceptionally heavy or overdone can overshadow the genuine emotions captured in the portraits. When choosing your hairstyle, or getting your hair done, opt for your favorite look or style that makes you feel your best. In other words, it might not be the best time to try a brand new style!


4. Plan for the Best Lighting of the Day: Just like the saying goes in real estate: “location, location, location!” the same goes for capturing beautiful photos except the #1 factor is “lighting, lighting, lighting!” Aim for a session during golden hour, when the light is soft, warm, and flattering. Especially in AZ, we want to avoid midday sessions (10 AM to 3 or 4 PM -- or even later in the summer) when the sun is high in the sky, as it can create harsh shadows and unflattering contrasts.


5. Keeping Your Kids Engaged: Capturing the attention and keeping young children engaged during a portrait session can be challenging. To help them enjoy the experience, come prepared with snacks & drinks or their favorite toys that can help elicit natural smiles and interactions.


Incorporating your own playful interactions with your kiddos during the session (such as tickling them, whispering funny little words in their ears, making eye contact, or kissing/hugging on them) can lead to wonderful candid images and heartwarming moments.


6. Be Patient and Flexible: Family portrait sessions can be unpredictable, especially when children are involved. Try to remain patient and flexible throughout the session, allowing for breaks and accommodating any unexpected circumstances. A relaxed and stress-free atmosphere will yield the most authentic and joyous moments.


7. Have Fun and Be Yourselves: The key to a great family portrait session is to relax, have fun, and be yourselves. Encourage your family members to express their individuality and genuine emotions. Embrace the laughter, the silliness, and the candid moments that make your family unique. By focusing on enjoying the experience together, you'll create portraits that truly reflect your family's love and connection.



A successful family portrait session requires planning, effective communication, and attention to detail, but once the day arrives, remember to relax, have fun, and allow your family's unique dynamics to shine through. Hopefully with these suggestions, you'll help ensure a memorable experience for your loved ones, resulting in beautiful portraits that you'll cherish for years to come!



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