Top 5 Tips to Get the Best Photos from Your Family Portrait Session

family of four in portrait studio

Unless your name is Kim Kardashian it may be difficult to find the time to get the family in front of a photographer, so when you do you want to make sure it counts. With that in mind, we have put together a list of things you can do to ensure that your next family portrait session goes as well as any celebrity could hope for.


1. Plan Ahead

Make sure you schedule your photo shoot well in advance, think at least 4-8 weeks in most cases, more for newborn sessions. This gives you plenty of time to take care of numbers 2 through 5! 

Show up to your session on time and ready to go. Even more important if your photo shoot is in the outdoors, lighting is at its best for a short period of time and if you miss it you've likely sabotaged your portrait session.

2. Communicate Your Vision for the Shoot

Your ability to communicate your goals with your photographer will set the tone for your entire shoot. From your first conversation, it is important that everyone get on the same page. If you're expecting high fashion, uber trendy, modern, or traditional, it is paramount that your photographer knows exactly what you are looking for. An experienced photographer will guide you through many of the choices you'll face. In fact, any family photographer worth your time (and money) will require a consultation in which you and the photographer will go over a thorough questionnaire designed specifically to answer all of these questions.

Communicating your needs with regards to products (albums, wall art, cards, etc.) prior to your portrait session is important so that your photographer knows what to shoot for.

3. Work With a Professional Hair Stylist

This is often the most overlooked yet the easiest to manage. Get a haircut a week before your session. Hair usually looks better a little grown out from a fresh haircut. If you plan on making a style change make sure to mention it to your photographer. You may be surprised at how many people neglect this fundamental step thinking they'll be able to do it last minute, they're wrong.

If you really want to nail a portrait session, have your hair styled before your session. We offer all our maternity portrait clients professional hair and makeup styling at no cost. We also offer this service as an add-on for the rest of our clients. Most professional photographers have a list of their city's top hair/makeup artists, so be sure to ask for their recommendations.

4. Choose the Right Outfits

Number 4 on our list is quite possibly the most important. Your style can make or break your photo shoot. No matter how gorgeous you are, no matter how amazing your hair, no matter how glorious that sunset, if you are wearing ill-fitted, mismatched, or otherwise unflattering clothing, it's all for naught. If you are ever in doubt about what to wear, your photographer should be happy to help. Read our style guide blog for tips on styling for family portraits.

Like hair and makeup, we send a professional stylist to our clients' homes for all family portrait sessions, at no cost. This is fairly unique but most professional photographers understand what works and what doesn't.

5. Trust Your Photographer

This is often the hardest thing to do, but it's a key step in getting your photos from "aww, that's cute" to "wow, you look amazing!". First, you've got to trust yourself, trust that you have selected a photographer that can give you what you want. Then, allow them to do what they do. Your photographer has a vision, they see the final product during the entire process, allow them to get you there.

Bonus: Food!

If your photo session involves children (this usually applies to dads too), keeping them fed can be the difference between a nightmare and a dream. Bringing a favorite snack will help ensure your little one is energized and agreeable. And don't forget a beverage! Avoid any snacks that are blue, green or red and absolutely NO chocolate. We've found that light-colored dumb-dumbs are great for bribery :-)


The Results

By following these 5 tips, you are all but guaranteed to have a great family portrait session and some fantastic family photos. More than that, your overall experience will be far more enjoyable.