10 tips for your best portraits EVER

Family portraits can be SO HARD to make happen. Finding and booking a photographer who will deliver not only what you want, but what you love, and trying to get everyone happily fed/watered/posed/etc the day of. 

And then there's the coordinating of outfits. And let me tell ya friend, there isn't anyone who wants the matching denim/white shirts with the cheesy backdrop anymore.  (I'm looking at you, my JC Pennys school portrait from 1998.) 

I'm hoping I can take some of the guesswork out of family portraits for you. You see, family portraits ought to reflect YOU and YOUR FAMILY. At the end of the day, you're the only ones who matter here! Your photo session is a time to relax, have fun, and make memories together. The last thing you need to do is stress out about what to wear or where to take your photos. Here's 10 helpful tips I've found for having the best photographic experience possible.

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1. If you have little ones, book your session at the time of day they are MOST happy. 
This should be a no-brainer, but I've seen people book sessions during nap time and then wonder why their littles are super grumpy creatures. No fun for anyone. I know for my kiddos, mid-morning before lunch/naps is a great time because they are at their highest "happy energy" for the day. Also post-dinner right before sunset; they have full tummies and its a nice time to be outside. Do what you know is going to work best for your family. 

2. Feed everyone a snack before your session. 
Kids (and dads!) get super antsy and hangry right before taking photos. It's inevitable. As a photographer, I know if there are littles involved in a home session, I'll usually incorporate a "snack break". To outdoor sessions, I usually bring a low mess snack for everyone to share. Full tummies = happy faces! 

3. Pick clothes you are comfortable in.
Friend, I don't want you waiting to take photos of yourself because you haven't lost the 5 lbs to fit into xyz dress. Wear something you feel beautiful in and are comfortable in RIGHT NOW and take those photos! You are not going to regret it. This does not mean you need to go purchase anything new either (although it can be a good excuse to get that cute top you've been dying for!), but simply shop your closet. Find a look that expresses who you are. 

4. …and shoes you can walk in. 
This is the #1 problem I have with clients when we take outdoor photos. High-heels at Red Rocks park just doesn't work well. Save those cute shoes for some shots downtown where we aren't walking long distances through grassy fields please. It's okay to wear cute shoes (no sneakers please!) but I also want to make sure that no one twists an ankle either. 

5. Dress your kids accordingly, and wait as long as possible to get them dressed. 
Simply put, dress your kids according to what you and your spouse are wearing. If you are going for a classic, put together look, then make your son ditch the athletic shorts for photo time. If you are doing a cozy Christmas pajama session at home, then have everyone put on the cute jammies right before your session starts (after you feed them a snack, of course!) If you wait to dress them, 2 things happen - you avoid stains and accidents, and your older children will be more willing to cooperate. 

6. Set everything out the night before, and try on outfits in advance. 
Avoid last minute decision fatigue and lay out all the outfits the night before! This is actually part of my daily routine, but this is a really effective way to make sure everyone looks their best together. Trying on outfits ahead of time will also help you find that perfect look for everyone, without stressing the day of. 

7. Pick a color scheme.
This is so much easier to work with and way more fun than the matchy-matchy 90s and early 2000s portraits. If you have older children, given them a choice of 3 colors and letting them pick their own outfits is going to get them involved. Allowing your children to help you make decisions on what to wear is a great way to get them excited about family portraits, especially tweens and teens. If you need color scheme ideas, head on over to my Pinterest board here.  

8. Avoidance issues.
Yep, there are definitely a few things you want to avoid to get your best photos. Neon clothing, clothing with large logos, sneakers, Crocs, etc. Sticking with natural color palettes lends itself to a cleaner finished image and one that you are sure to be happy with! There are exceptions to the rule however, so if you want to incorporate something fun and quirky into your apparel, there are ways we can make that happen.  

9. Book an in-home session.
If you want really good photos, and don't want to get up the effort to leave the house, then this is a great choice for you. In-home sessions are radically fun, super relaxed, and way easier to get the kids involved. I absolutely LOVE doing at home portraits, because my clients are 100% more open and authentic, and because of that I can create really honest imagery that people fall in love with. 

10. Be true to who YOU are. 
All advice aside, this is what I want you to take away from this. These are your photos at the end of the day. I want you to treasure these for a lifetime, and I don't want you to feel like Mulan looking in the water at her reflection saying "who am I? who is this?" When you see a portrait of yourself and your family, I want you to get warm fuzzies inside, and be filled with happiness because we created art that is true to you

Now tell me, did I miss anything? Leave me a comment below! <3