Preparing for Family Portraits

Written by Backdrop Express Photography Team on . Posted in Group Photography, Photography Tips

christmas-family-portrait Family portraits help document the history of a family from early on. Some families opt for an annual portrait, some less frequently. Regardless, having a family a portrait taken is a big event, and all family members should be fully prepared for what’s involved. Optimal preparation includes physical, mental and emotional components, as well as key photography tips. Both the parents and the photographer can contribute to all family members being prepared for family portraits. The result will be a keepsake that will be treasured for years to come:

1. Convey the Significance of a Family Portrait

If there is one main organizer/ringleader for a family portrait (usually Mom), it’s up to that person to rally the troops and give them a pep talk that will inspire them to not only show up for the portrait, but give it their all. Have a family meeting and let your family know how much you cherish them and want to document this time of your lives.

2. Choose Outfits as a Family

The bigger the family, the more challenging this step might be. Kids, especially teenagers, can be very opinionated when it comes to their clothing. Use the opportunity of the family meeting to get everyone’s input about how the family portrait should look. If you already have a vision of the look you’re hoping for, come prepared to the family meeting with printouts (check Pinterest for ideas and inspiration.) Encourage family members to do the same, then take a vote. Once you settle on a style and color scheme, allow each family member to pick out 2 to 3 outfit ideas in that color. Vote on outfit choices for each family member until you each have your final selections.

3. Start Getting Ready Early

Store all of the portrait outfits together in one place, safely away from candy, sticky fingers, drinks that can spill, etc. Make sure all of the family portrait outfits are clean and pressed. A day or two before the shoot, lay them out in a spare room or “safe” area of the home. Include all details and accessories, from socks and shoes to ties, hair bows and jewelry. Having everything together in one place before the day of the shoot will minimize stress, delays and headaches. Have everyone start getting ready at least 2 hours before you have to leave for the photo shoot. (Tell them your appointment is one hour earlier than it actually is if need be!)


4. Defuse Stress and Arguments While Getting Ready

Preparing your family for a photo shoot can be stressful, but there are ways to minimize tension. Keep the mood light and fun while everyone is getting ready. Play music and tell a few jokes. Smile! The fact that you already have the outfits selected and organized will go a long way in reducing stress and tension. If a child wants to bring a toy along or your teenager wants to bring their smartphone, let them. Pick your battles to avoid confrontation and arguments.

5. Keep the Peace During the Session

Defusing stress and arguments doesn’t stop when you get to the photo studio! Continue to keep it “zen” as the photographer arranges you and begins shooting. Separate siblings who are prone to bickering. NEVER berate a child or your spouse; the negativity will be palpable and seep into the energy of the photo. Stay positive, laugh, tell jokes. The photographer should have an arsenal ofphotography tips for keeping the mood at the shoot light and positive.

6. Praise and Complements

In photo shoots as in life, flattery will get you everywhere. Both the organizer and the photographer should be free and generous with compliments. Praise anything and everything that each family member is doing well — in fact, this should begin in the getting-ready phase. Complement their outfits and tell them how handsome or beautiful they look. People love praise and positive feedback, especially during portraits. Even the most camera-shy will stand a few inches taller after being praised and complimented.


7. Lighten Up and Have Fun!

Whether the shoot is smooth-sailing or things go wrong, don’t forget to have a great time throughout the experience. You are immortalizing a period in your family’s history. It may have been a struggle, but they’re all here, trying their best. No matter what happens, smile, laugh and make the most of the moment. Let your child hold her toy in a frame or two; allow your teenager to text between poses. Above all, let the love you have for one another shine through, and your family portrait is sure to be a success.

Do you take annual family portraits, once every few years or hardly ever?

-Backdrop Express Photography Team

Interested in learning more about family portraits? Check out 11 Group Photography Tips!

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