Tips for Great Family Portraits

Whether it’s for this year’s Christmas card, to fill an album as a gift for a loved one, or simply to add to your collection of family memories, deciding to book a family portrait session is a wonderful way to capture a beautiful snapshot in time of your family. That being said, we’ve all heard too many hilarious recounts of “family-portrait-shoots-gone-wrong” to count. Stories filled with kids crying at the exact wrong moment, torrential downpours, and stained clothes. If you’re gearing up for a session with us, these are just a few of our tips for great family portraits to make sure you get the most out of your session

Women standing on a deck drinking champagne in North East, PA

1. Location is Key


Finding a location that provides a stunning background for your photos is important, but what’s more important is selecting a location that fits your own vision for the shoot, and has some personal significance to you and your family. If you enjoy spending time outdoors at a local park, what better place to capture the essence of your family than where you love to spend your spare time? Our first tip for great family portraits: Be creative and be purposeful when choosing your location. Every photographer has his or her own favorite spots, but selecting a location that reflects your family’s personalities and their interests will just make your photos look more like, well, you.

2. Talk it Up to the Kids


If your family includes kids, talk up the session to them positively. Try using light and fun terms like, “So, on Saturday, we’re going to hang out in the park with our friend Matt for an hour or so. He’s the best. Sounds fun, right?!” Our next tip for great family portraits: Make sure kids know what to expect during the session. Even more importantly, make sure they know what is expected of them during the shoot. Setting a few guidelines can help kids feel a bit more comfortable come the day of the session.

Girl sits on a blanket in a park for family portraits in Erie, PA
Family poses for photos in Ligonier PA

3. Plan Your Outfits


Planning and preparation is the key to any successful photo shoot. Our third tip for great family portraits: Plan your wardrobes at least a week in advance. That way if you need to grab any last minute items you aren’t panicked the day of the shoot. Or, if there are some items that need professional cleaning you have time to comfortably get it done. Lay outfits out the night before to reduce any session day stress.

What you wear in your family portraits can make a huge difference in the way you and your family feel the day of the session. Everyone loves the idea of matching color-coded outfits. However, if the style you have in mind isn’t a style the rest of your family members shares, have some flexibility. Let everyone choose what outfits they feel most comfortable and relaxed in. 

4. Be Aware of Sleep Schedules


For the few nights leading up to day of the session, be mindful of how much sleep your family is getting. Another important tip for great family portraits: Make sure everyone comes into the session well-rested. Not only does this help with patience levels, but getting more sleep makes you feel better, gives you more energy, and generally makes you feel better about yourself. When everyone feels better about themselves, it shines through in every photograph.

Family walks on the beach at Presque Isle State Park during portrait session
Mother and her two children sitting on a bench for family portraits in Erie, PA

5. Full Bellies = Happy People


Our next tip for great family portraits: bring snacks. Hungry kids are not normally happy kids. So, pack a travel bag of family favorites to keep everyone from falling victim to hunger pangs throughout the session. Frankly, hungry adults are not often happy adults either. Why not throw in a few adult snacks for good measure?Snacks can also be a source of entertainment when switching scenery or rearranging for different shots and angles.

Prior to the session, whether you’re a family of two or a family of 10, making sure everyone has a healthy breakfast in the morning can also help everyone feel more context, relaxed, and provide fuel for energy throughout the day. Have a fun sit-down breakfast together as a family to make sure everyone takes their time eating and gets their fill. Full tummies mean happy hearts, and that shows in your pictures!

6. Have FUN!

Above all else, family portrait sessions are meant to be relaxed, fun, and memorable. Sure, there may be a few hiccups, but take the bumps in the road with a smile and remember the beautiful final product that is waiting for you. Take these few tips for great family photos, and you’ll be amazed at the memories you’ll make. If you’re looking to set up a family portrait session in the Erie, PA area, reach out to us at Matt Mead Photography to talk about setting up the perfect session for you and your family. Take a quick browse through our portfolio to get some ideas for locations, shots, and some of the most perfectly planned outfits you’ve ever seen. See you soon!

Father, daughter, and mother laughing together during family portraits in Frontier Park In Erie, PA