Reimagining Traditional Family Portraits

Studio portrait of siblings wearing white and gray

The Design & Style Consultation

When I sat down with Valeria for her design and styling consultation for her upcoming family portrait session I had spoken with her briefly over the phone, as well we had exchanged a few emails. These conversations are usually great preparation for the in-person design and styling consultations, but creative ideas really get flushed out at the actual meeting. It’s something we at the studio always look forward to and it’s something most moms are thrilled we provide.

As we discussed what it was that Valeria and her husband Ricardo wanted to create she became aware of what it was that she wanted. It wasn’t until I was sitting down in her home discussing the options for the photoshoot, helping to guide her that she began to understand what we were actually willing to. It’s at this point that she made the decision to recreate or reimagine some of her old family photos. She wanted turn of the century characteristics with a contemporary sensibility. Now this was a photoshoot I could sink my teeth into!


Wardrobe that Fits Your Vision

This is something we preach EVERY SINGLE PHOTOSHOOT, your wardrobe is hugely important to how you see the final product. No matter what we create, no matter the lighting or the posing, no matter the setting or your expression, if what you are wearing is not in line with your overall vision you will not achieve the look you are looking for. This, I would consider a failure on my part and is one of the reasons that when you book a session with us you will get an in home styling consultation.

Studio portrait of woman wearing red Spanish style dress.
Studio portrait of man in gray suit on gray background

This is something Valeria was fully aware of. We selected her dress, a red ankle-length dress with Spanish embroidered embellishments and off the shoulder sleeves. Putting Valeria in red would help add a pop of color to her photos. We used this as a central point from which to style the rest of the family. The children would wear white, in a classic children’s style. White and gray romper with a peter pan collar for their son and a dress with eyelet details for their daughter. Ricardo would wear a simple gray suit with a white shirt to tie the kids clothing together. This was a modern way to do a classic look that will stand the test of time.

Preparing for the Photoshoot

As we began to review the old images that Valeria had shared as her inspiration it became clear why she had chose The Shelby Studio to create her family photos, what Valeria was asking for was not far off from what we enjoy creating most, timeless portraits. And even more to my liking, she specifically asked for darker, moodier portraits.

Hair and Makeup

We invited Valeria to come in about an hour prior to the photoshoot for a makeover. We provide hair styling and makeup from our favorite local HMUA Sunny Hair and Makeup Artistry. We discussed how to achieve the look Valeria and I had set out to create and settled on a classic brown smokey contour makeup, and a loosely curled hair style. We wanted Valeria to look like herself but still staying in line with the traditional feel. Mom even wanted her daughter to have her hair curled. She got to have her’s done the day before with her usual hairstylist.

Painterly portrait of a young girl in a white dress.
Studio portrait of a toddler in white and gray romper
Studio portrait of little girl in white dress on gray background.

The Photoshoot

As we wrapped hair and makeup Ricardo showed up just in time with their daughter. Grandma would bring their son after his nap, a well rested baby suits us just fine! We encourage everyone to get dressed for their session at the studio, especially children. There are many benefits to this, one is that though many dads are perfectly capable it’s just easier to get out the door with the kiddos without having to dress them meticulously for a photoshoot.

Boy in white peter pan color romper

When photographing a family with small children it’s imperative to gain the trust of those children, sometimes that’s easier said than done. In this case I had previously photographed Valeria and Ricardo’s daughter so there was a level of comfort that allowed me to get some truly intimate photos of her. Ironically I think her comfort set the tone for this shoot, Valeria and Ricardo were far more at ease knowing their daughter was comfortable.


This portrait session meant a great deal to this family and we had a wonderful time creating these portraits.

Jacob ShelbyComment