Family Portrait Sessions 101

Portrait Sessions

One of things I probably hear the most as a portrait photographer is, “I don’t know how well this is going to go but we’ll try” This is typically a statement made by a trepidatious parent who really wants family portraits but has the familiar  “You don’t know my children” tone in their voice. Knowing that not all children are the same and different age groups present different challenges, as both a photographer & a parent, I’m here to tell you, IT’S GOING TO BE OK 🙂 Keep reading to find out why!

Like most plans in life, we usually have a certain idea of how they will go or be prior to even experiencing them. It’s normal human nature to want to be in control, especially where kids our kids are involved. When it comes to children and photography most of the time we have to let these expectations relax and remember just a few simple rules.

#1 Preparation is Key. Leading up to your planned portrait session it is ALWAYS a good idea to talk with your kids about the FUN you are going to have taking pictures together as a family. Talking about where the session will happen, letting the kids be involved in outfit selection, and even having fun “practicing” their favorite pose, gets them excited and their minds set that this is going to be a GOOD TIME! Even encouraging them to bring a favorite toy or “prop” that they may want to include in some of the pictures is a good idea! When the kids feel involved in the decision making process it gives them some ownership over what is going to happen.

#2 A Positive Attitude goes a long way! As parents it’s easy for us to get wrapped up in details and timelines and let that stress leak out on the way to a portrait session. Playing some relaxing or fun music, a game, or just talking about the excitement of the session is a great way to get everyone in a positive mind to enjoy themselves. Maybe even make a plan to go out to dinner or somewhere nice after your session! You’re all dressed up already! Make the most of the day and plan ahead to do something else together!

#3 Sit back & RELAX. This the MOST IMPORTANT rule of all. Once you arrive to your session, rest easy that Mrs. Meridith will be the one directing and giving instructions to the littlest clients. As parents all you need to do is allow me to place you the best light, give some instruction, and then just have fun! If the kiddos understand that Mrs. Meridith is “in charge” then it takes the pressure off of you and everyone is much happier 🙂 We want smiling happy faces, not stressed or scolding ones!

With family sessions I have found that after getting the “traditional” poses first, it allows for me then to capture you and your family just being yourselves. I may have you all sit down together and have one of the kids tell a joke to all of you or I may invoke a little tickle fight. Individual snuggles or tosses in the air always get awesome smiles and emotions! Little pretend group walks and ring around the rosey also keep little feet moving and offer additional variety to your session. These are proven ways to make sure everyone is relaxed and having fun!

So some of you may be still thinking “you don’t know my child” or “what if we’re just not having a good day”? I totally understand. I’m going to first refer you back to rule #3. If parents are relaxed and calm then sometimes we just need to let our littles find their own way. This could mean just taking things slow, not rushing or forcing poses or smiles. I may just casually talk to them, ask them some questions about themselves, and then give them a small queue to get them involved in an activity. I might ask them if they would like to see my camera or take a picture of them doing a “favorite pose” and then show them what it looks like. If they’re older I might ask them to be my helper and give them a task. The key is to let them feel comfortable & at ease. Remember I’m a parent, I’ve seen it all!

I’ll leave you with one final thought. Above all else I hope that this will help to ease your concerns about family portrait sessions. This isn’t just about “getting pictures taken” this a time for you and your family to enjoy each other and even make memories in the process! My goal is to create a fun & enjoyable experience that you can look back on, in your images, and say “That was a good day!” After all, when you hang these portraits in your home you want them to make you smile. You know your family best. So whatever gets them in a good, ready to have fun mood, do that! You will be so happy that you did!

XOXO- Meridith

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