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{ Family Portrait Session // Planning Guide }

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Family Photographs are by far some of the most treasured possessions in a home. Posed and candid photos alike – it’s in our nature to want to capture precious moments in time, to be able to forever look back with joy and nostalgia on all the best memories of our lives. When you schedule a Family Portrait Session with Christin Photography, you can rest assured that you’ll be working with a patient and caring individual who wants you and your family to look your very best, while feeling as comfortable as possible. But a successful portrait session involves some planning and preparation – especially if little ones are involved. Comfort is crucial in terms of location, outfits, time of day, and snack breaks. Through many years of photography and portraiture experience, Christin Photography brings you some tricks of the trade, to make sure your session goes as smoothly as possible! This should be a really fun experience, so let’s plan accordingly!

Mini or Classic Session?
Christin Photography offers Mini Sessions in the spring and fall. These sessions are short – just 45 minutes in length. Because the session is so short, it’s best to make sure that everyone is well rested and well fed just before the start of your session. Generally 45 minutes is the perfect length of time to catch a few quality moments before young ones lose interest and become squirmy or hungry.

Just in case irritability does occur, bring along a favorite toy that you don’t mind incorporating into photos. You can also hide a treat for the ride home to reward good behavior – but it’s best not to mention the treat until after your session is complete (or save until the very end – see ideas below in the Props section). Instead of focusing on a rewards system, center your session on having a fun time as a family. Relax and just enjoy one another! Sometimes fun candid photos together are way better than the forced posed shots.

Portrait sessions can feel like a lot of work, for everyone involved – it’s not easy being a model! But just like anything in life - the more you do it, the more comfortable the process becomes. So a mini session is a great way to get your family acclimated to the experience of being in front of the camera. It’s just enough time to capture a handful of gems that can grace your walls and greeting cards.  

On the other hand, the two hours allotted for a Classic Session give your photographer the ability to see and capture more of your individual personalities. It also allows for different background, theme and posing options, as well as outfit changes and individual portraits of each family member. You’ll get a lot more variety out of the session. However, a longer time period means a greater chance for meltdowns. Your photographer will be patient, pause when necessary, and work with Mom and Dad to make your child as comfortable as possible.

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Location?
Christin Photography can come to your home, or help you choose a public space for your Portrait Session. If you have an infant, it’s strongly recommended that your session occur at your home, for safety and comfort. But as soon as your little guy or gal is toddling all around, parks are wonderful places for a family portrait session. Just keep in mind when choosing your location that some places, especially in the DC region, have permit requirements for photography sessions, including application forms and fees. 

Christin Photography offers a limited number of DC Cherry Blossom Portrait Sessions. The price includes required National Park Service photography permit fees. As locals will know, the Tidal Basin is incredibly popular during the last week of March and the first week of April, as the beautiful cherry blossoms fill the air. Because of the increased traffic, sunrise is the best time to schedule a portrait session here, allowing for the opportunity to beat the crowds to the parking spaces, as well as to catch the beautiful lighting often available first thing in the morning.

Best time of year and time of day?
Beautiful portraits and backgrounds are possible any time of the year, depending on the look you’re going for and your desired level of comfort. But in terms of the Mid-Atlantic region, spring and fall are highly notable for achieving the best of both of these elements – the spring buds and fall leaves provide beautiful scenery and the weather is much more likely to offer pleasant temperatures. Summer time can be really challenging with humidity and buzzing mosquitoes. And of course winter is downright cold for outdoor photos. The chilly air can cause watery eyes and runny noses, so be sure to bundle up and bring along plenty of tissues, if winter is your desired season for portraits. It’s always a good idea to have a backup indoor option in case the weather is less than ideal on your chosen portrait session date. A home session is always a great option, as weather isn’t an issue. And a home session allows family members to feel more at ease, while capturing elements of the environment in which you spend most of your time together. The best time of day for outdoor portraits is the golden hour that generally occurs within the two hours after sunrise and two hours prior to sunset.

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What to wear?
It’s up to you to decide how formal or casual you would like to be! Be prepared for your location setting and wear comfortable clothing that provides enough movement for both sitting and standing. Mini skirts aren’t recommended for this reason; and wedges will generally work better than stilettos, if you’re dressing up. With a portrait session at the park, it’s best to avoid wearing green. Red can also sometimes be tricky, but can work well for holiday themes. Neutral solid colors always work well, particularly white, gray, blue, pink as well as denim and khaki materials. Layering is a great way to go, especially in the early spring and late fall. Try a scarf or statement necklace & earrings for Mom, along with a vest or stylish jackets with jeans or khakis for the guys. A dress with tights, boots, a sweater and a headband or hair bow is always adorable for the little ladies! Plaid with cowboy boots is a fun look. Just make sure everyone is dressed for the weather and bring some outfit changes for Classic Sessions, if you’d like to try out a few looks. If it’s a cloudy day with scattered showers, try matching rain boots and umbrellas for everyone in the family! 

Props
Props aren’t a necessity, but can add some cute flair. You could bring a picnic blanket that matches your outfits, to use for some seated poses on the ground. Keep in mind that the blanket will help keep your clothes clean, but could get pretty dirty itself. Balloons or bubbles can provide a fun element for your children AND they add a serious cuteness factor to the photos. And remember how I mentioned keeping treats for after your session? Well, this could actually be something to incorporate at the very end of your portrait session – think kids sitting in a row on a bench, licking big twisty lollipops – or for a healthier option – sipping juice boxes; or eating popcorn out of vintage carnival bags. Ice cream cones are always fun for everybody at the end of a portrait session, but depend on the location of the session. Feel free to brainstorm a few ideas with your photographer, but just remember that you can never go wrong with the simplicity of a park, a picnic blanket and the beautiful people in your life all snuggled up together, laughing and having the best time!

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Bring an extended family member or friend – and maybe even your pet!
If you have small children, it’s always helpful to have an extra set of hands to help out.  And you are welcome to bring your pet along as well! Consider asking an extended family member or close friend to tag along and help entertain your children or accompany your pet during off-camera moments. Bring along some treats for your pet as well!

What’s next after your portrait session?
After your portrait session, your photographer will need some time to sort through the best images, along with enhancing your images with professional editing skills. When your images are ready, you’ll receive a link to your private online gallery of proofs, where you can select your top 15 images for Mini Sessions or top 30 images for Classic Sessions. You’ll then be sent a link to download print quality images, which you can print up to 12-inches on the longest side. 

These days, most images stay on our phones or computer, with few ever actually getting printed. You have the option to print your selected images at your printing venue of choice. You can also order via your online gallery, through Christin Photography, for gorgeous prints that have archival properties to last for years to come! Ready to book your session? Contact Christin today for details!