today’s love story:
Planning your family’s portrait session – 3 things
and all the magical moments that made it
If you've ever felt excited about family portraits - and then immediately overwhelmed - this post is for you!
As you'd expect with a family portrait photographer, pictures are super important to me. And even I've felt the nervousness of portrait planning decisions!
What should we wear?
Where should we have our pictures taken?
Will the kids behave? (Actually, its really like, what can I bribe them with)
Who should we hire?
What should we do with the pictures afterwards?
There should be a support group for portrait planning. "I'm Erica Ewing, and I'm trying to plan a portrait session." "Hi Erica," the moms reply in that knowing 'we too spent 1,000 hours online trying to figure it out' kind of way. So here I'll break it down...
The three most important things to think about when planning your family portrait session
1. Why are pictures important to you right now?
What brought you here, to a portrait artist’s website, at this specific moment? For some, it’s an important milestone. You’re expecting a new baby, or your baby just turned one…or that “baby” is now driving and is going to be a high school senior this fall…
OR maybe you’ve always wanted to hire a photographer, but never got around to it. I grew up with a dad who was morbidly aware of time. He used to tell me that the older you get, the faster the years go by. I’m already seeing this truth, just in my late 30s. Life is busy! (Which is also why its important to slow down and document it along the way.)
Or perhaps you want to capture a feeling. The two of you have dreamed of creating a family together, and you feel so blessed. And then your littles get older and they love each other so much…in between the wrestling, you catch them snuggled over a book and THAT’S what you want. To keep that feeling alive always.
When you drill in to why pictures are important, it will help guide your decisions, and will also help you realize that some of the ones you might get stuck on aren’t actually that important.
2. What should you wear?
Outfits are usually the first thing mommas think (aka stress) about when it comes to family pictures, because it requires so much work! But this little trick is going to make it super simple – ready for it? Look at your home! Yep, that’s literally it. Let your home’s decor dictate your portrait style – you’ve already chosen your favorite colors and your style, so leverage that work:
– what color are your walls?
– what are your accent colors, found on your throw pillows, or any art you have on the walls?
– what color is your couch, comforter, rugs?
Choose the 2-3 colors that match your home, and there are the colors for your outfits! And decide the “dressy level” by the style of your home – clean & crisp Pottery Barn, reclaimed barnwood rustic, Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia style? The style of your home will help you decide the style of your outfits.
3. Where will you display your new portraits?
Let’s get real here…you know all those gorgeous family portraits you see people posting online? The majority of them won’t ever be printed larger than a 4×6 (too small to really make an impact), or to be honest, printed at all!
Statistics show that a staggering
53% of consumers haven’t printed a photo in more than 12 months,
70% don’t have photo albums, and 42% no longer print photos at all!
The fact is, most people just don't know where to start. Help yourself by simply walking through the rooms in your home.
– Which rooms are you in the most?
– Where might you want to see a picture of your favorite people every day?
– How might your kids enjoy looking at these pictures?
You might even choose different outfits for different rooms! Colorful outfits for the playroom, and classic blue tones for the living room.
BONUS: IT IS SO HARD TO PICK YOUR FAVORITE PICTURES!
The other big challenge that stops people from creating something meaningful is choosing their favorite pictures from the session. Never mind where to hang, what size, finish, etc but simply WHICH of the pictures.
When you’re looking at a gallery of 30-50 pictures of the people you love most, the easiest decision is to make no decision at all.
You want to hear the craziest story?
We worked with a well-known, high-end family photographer a few years ago. We went back to the studio to make our product selections a couple of weeks after the session (similar to our process here). We chose a 20×30 boutique-framed wall portrait for our living room, a print box of every portrait and the digital files. They processed our credit card and sent us home to make our selections from an online gallery.
If you think a photographer is doing you a favor by providing an online gallery, think again. Sounds convenient, but after you spend a solid 40 hours in front of the computer debating between picture A and picture B, you’ll realize that it was no favor at all.
I’m not even kidding when I tell you it was ONE FULL YEAR before that portrait was printed. Simply because I’d start and stop the process so many times without making a decision.
Choosing your favorites is hard - which is why, as a fellow mom, I recommend you get an expert's help.
I’ve worked with photographers who – like us – provide the full printing service (including help choosing favorites), and I’ve worked with photographers who simply sold us a flash drive of the digital files.
For me, done is best.
I value a someone who will guide us through the entire process, help us with sizing, make suggestions on how to print, and help us select our best images. I’d hire the expert every day of the week.