This week's Just BECCA 10 List is a little more useful than last week's 10 list! Though, maybe less entertaining. Out of all the types of sessions I do, family portraits seem to freak people out the most. The smiling, the matching, the begging the family to cooperate. The Drama. It really doesn't have to be like that. There's work involved, but like most things you have to work for, it is worth it. There really are ways to have a less stressful experience though and to wind up with photos that really capture the spirit of your family at this time in your lives. Here are 10 of them......
10 Ways to Have a Better Family Portrait Session
1. Make an appointment and DO IT! The thing holding most people back from having gorgeous photos of their family is that they JUST DON'T DO IT. They are going to wait until it isn't so hot, or so cold, or their kids are a little older, or they lose weight. The truth is, for many people, they are going to wait, and wait, and wait.............until those moments are gone and none of those reasons for waiting are going to have been good ones. Your kids won't care if you could have probably stood to lose 15 pounds before the session. They won't care that they are snaggle toothed or that you made them wear an outfit they hated (okay, they might be mad about that, I'm still upset about a floral romper situation from the 90s but we'll get back to outfits) My point is, they WILL care that there aren't any photos one day.
2. Hire a photographer you like--both style and personality wise. If you are a really laid back family with big personalities, then a very formal photography studio with a photographer who is on the more serious side may not mesh well with your family. If you are a fan of a traditional posed portrait then my laid back style and personality might not be your style. That's okay. Find someone you like, who fits your budget, and you feel like you can trust to do their job without worry. Taking the time to find a photographer who fits well with your family's personality and who's style of work is appealing to you will pay off when you see your final images! (Shameless plug: If you'd like to see my portfolios they are on my website here: www.justbecca.com/portfolio Hey, my blog, my rules!)
3. Schedule your session for a good time for your family--choose a time of day that works well for schedules and personalities. If you know your toddler is crazy in the afternoons, schedule a morning session. Have a teenager who doesn't like to get out of bed in the morning? Do everybody involved all a favor and book an afternoon session. Make sure your favorite team isn't playing!! Make sure you aren't on call for work. Double check your calendar. Make sure everyone in the family has it on their calendar--especially teenagers. Be sure to book ahead of time, as many photographers book up months in advance, especially outdoor photographers during nicer weather.
4. Plan ahead for outfits. Try on all pieces of your outfits ahead of time and make sure everything fits. Shoes too! Pick outfits that suit your style as a family but allow room to show individual personalities as well. Everyone doesn't have to wear the same outfit for people to know you are a family! Give family members a chance to voice their opinions. Everyone will be happier if they feel like they look their best and have had at least a little bit of say in their outfit.
5. Manage expectations. Be realistic about what you expect, keeping in mind personalities, ages, attention spans as you plan your session with your photographer. Work together to create a session that will represent who you are right now in your lives. Be sure to let everyone in the family know what will be expected during the session--listening, a good attitude, kind words, etc. No Debbie Downers!! I promise, individuals rarely get noticed in family photos, unless they are the grumpasaurus of their family. So unless you are a famous internet feline, no grumpy attitudes.
6. Negotiate. No, not with your photographer. They work hard and don't want to negotiate their paycheck any more than you do. I mean a little negotiation with the family--letting your teenager wear the ugly shoes they want--if they get a haircut, hints of a trip for ice cream afterwards for little ones who smile and listen, a promise not to complain next time the hubs wants to spend Saturday fishing if he doesn't gripe about wearing a shirt with buttons--goes a long way.
7. Clean faces & hands--if you love your photographer you will not give your child blue candy on the way to their photo shoot. Or red drink. Blue tongues and red Kool-aid 'stashes are the things I have nightmares about. Make sure noses, mouths, faces, and hands are clean! If you want extra brownie points clean under their fingernails. Check nails for chipped polish. Toes too!
8. Put your phone down. Even better, leave it in the car. There are a thousand articles on the internet about this, I don't need to tell you why! This also goes for your fire pager, gaming system, tiny tv you are watching the game on, etc. I will make an exception for on call doctors, but see #3 to avoid this!
9. Relax. If you have done all of the above, you can chill now. It is time to trust your photographer to bring this to life. If you went the more traditional route, sit up straight, show off those pearly whites and your trust your photographer to create a beautiful formal portrait. If you went more casual, then love on your family, hug your spouse, laugh at your kids. Trust your photographer to capture the connection that makes your family so special. Do not stress so hard trying to make everything perfect that you can't relax.
10. Get your photos printed! Don't keep a disc in a drawer, or only post on social media. Print them, hang them and show them off! I don't say this so you will spend money on prints and wall art from me or your photographer. I say this because you went through the effort to book a session, plan outfits, etc so why hide the results away on a disc? Print them! Make Christmas cards. Gift prints or mini albums to your family & friends. Order that giant canvas, hang it over your couch.That family is why you work hard every day, now fill up those walls with moments of you creating happy memories!
Were these tips helpful? Have your own advice to share with others on how to have a better family portrait session? Let me know in the comments!
Want to book a session with Just BECCA? Use the Contact Me form here on the website or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org If you'd rather talk to a live human give me a call at the studio at 919-222-8566 between 11-6 Tuesday through Saturday! Mention this blog and I might even tell you about a special I have coming up for family portraits! Wink, wink!