After years of photographing families, I have been able to reflect on what makes for an awesome family portrait session. There are so many things that families can do before, during, and after a shoot to ensure that they have a spectacular time and come away with a set of stellar shots.
So, what exactly can you do to help me capture the photos you have always wanted?
Ten Tips for an Amazing Family Portrait Session
1) Come to your portrait session well rested
Do you ever get cranky when you don't get enough sleep? If you or anyone else in your family is tired, your photos will show it. I am always able to get the best results when everyone is feeling fresh. A well rested family makes for an energy fueled session.
2) Consider your family's routines
When considering the best time for your family portrait session, it is important to take children's routines and your individual needs into account. I will always do my best to work around your schedule. But, planning ahead ensures that our portrait session is priority number one during our time together.
3) Be on time
Coming to your family session on time (or even a bit early) is always best. The more time I have with your family the better. The beginning of our session is always about establishing a relationship. The better I know you as a family, the better I can capture you.
4) Be my stylist
I need your help to make the portrait session run smoothly. No, this doesn't mean that I need you to stand behind me and clap your hands so that the kiddos will look at the camera. Your job is more akin to a stylist. Make sure your family's clothing and hair are to your liking throughout the session.
5) Bring an additional change of clothing
If you are unsure of which clothing choice will work best for your family portraits, bring an extra change. Prior to our session, I will offer suggestions about clothing that makes for great imagery. But, if you are hemming and hawing over which outfit to wear, bring an extra along.
6) Bring a favorite item
Parents of young children sometimes choose to bring along a special item to include in their portraits. Does your kiddo have a ratty old stuffed animal that they never want to part with? Now is the perfect time to document it before it finds its way into a keepsake box bound for your attic. While I don't shoot a lot of portraits with props of any sort, there is a time and a place for those special keepsakes.
7) Sustain the smiles with bribery
Of course I am a proponent of intrinsic motivation. But, I am not above cheap bribery to get a great portrait. Keep a bag of goodies on hand that can be used to motivate your child through the portrait session. Something yummy to eat usually does the trick for young children.
8) Don't worry about the photographer
I am not stressed out by your child's unwillingness or cheeky backtalk. I am not freaked out by a kid throwing a tantrum. I am also a father and know all too well "how it is." I am ready to capture the smiles between those meltdown moments. Don't worry about me!
9) Be flexible
A family portrait session is all about having fun. Every portrait session is unique and I will work with you to capture the very best moments for you and your family to love and enjoy for years to come. As we work together, keep an open mind and be flexible.
10) Treat yourself
I always advise families to treat themselves to something nice after our shoot. Seeing that you are out and about, you might as well extend your family's special day together. Do you have a favorite ice cream parlor or kid's museum? Plan a special treat after our session so that you can keep the good times rolling.
Are you interested in a family portrait session? Put these ten tips to practice during your own session. What are you waiting for? Book a shoot today!
Award winning photographer based in Tokyo, Japan. Specializing in portrait photography, he shoots a variety of portraiture, editorial, event, and commercial photography assignments. Andy is a husband, father, and lover of fried food.