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Archive for September, 2014

Five Tips for a Planning a Successful Family Portrait Session

Written by Jen on . Posted in We Are Family!

Hello Fall!

We just passed the equinox which means Fall is officially here! Crisp air, snuggly sweaters, boots (my fav!) and scarves, pumpkin picking, apples and cocoa – I heart Fall!

Fall also makes me think of families – it’s the perfect time to pull the family together for a little portrait fun. Mother Nature is painting a beautiful canvas – adding your loved ones can only make it better. Plus, it’s a great time to start thinking of holiday cards and portrait gifts. The sooner we capture your images, the quicker we can create your gorgeous products. Plus, who doesn’t love showing off their fab family to all those holiday guests!?! The timing’s perfect!

Fall Family Portrait, Family Portrait by Lake

So let’s start planning! Even prepping for just Ben and I – Daisy and Bernard have perfect fashion sense and always seem to coordinate with everything ;) – it’s surprising tricky to pull outfits together. So no worries – everyone hits that moment of “Good golly we have nothing to wear!” Deep breath – I’m here to help! Below are 5 tips to stay sane and plan an awesome family portrait session!

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Our lovely little family captured by fellow photographer and friend, the amazing Mandie Haberman of Amanda Red Wedding Photography.

1 – Relax.

Seriously. Like I said, deep breath. This is going to rock and we are going to have a blast. We are going to find you something to wear and you’re going to look fabulous. Stressing and obsession is also bad on the body and the skin. Grab a glass of water, take another breath, and let’s do this. I promise, you’ve got this – and me guide you.

2 – Coordination is key.

It’s not the 90s – we are not looking to match. I honestly don’t want you to match. Even though we are capturing a family portrait, you are still individuals. You don’t need to be wearing the same thing. By coordinating, you’ll look like a family while still maintaining a sense of self. Look for complimentary colors – blues with oranges and yellows, greens with reds and purples. Look to nature – greens, blues, and browns all work well together, because they all present in nature. We aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel here – take a cue from nature and you likely be pleasantly surprised. Blacks and grays with an accent color always look awesome – yellow, blue, reds, teal, purple, you name it. This is one of my favorite combos and is fairly easy – and we like easy. Pick a favorite color, add gray, and you’re set. For Fall, jewel tones tend to be popular – deep burgundy, forest green, navy, plum, mustard, copper – those deeps tones lend themselves well to the season changes. Conversely, if you were planning something for Spring, lighter and brighter tones lend well. During your consultation, we can look at color swatches to help visualize how colors work together.

Larger family grouping can be tricky – sometime sticking with the neutrals and an accent can make things simpler.

Speaking of the deep fall tones, besides looking amazing, darker tones have slimming qualities. Feeling self conscious about your weight? Dark colors visually slim you down. Same with longer sleeves and pants, especially if you have lighter skin. The eye (and your brain) will always go to lightest part of a portrait, so by wearing darker colors and longer sleeves, you force the eye to the face – which in a non-fashion portrait is often our goal anyway. In saying this, I by no means suggest you start wearing all black, all the time. But darker tones – richer colors – will likely be more appealing to you vs white/pastels.

Rocking those deep fall tones!

Once you have an idea for you color pallet, remember that accessories are a great way to mix in your colors. Jewelry, scarves, boots and shoes, hats are all great ways to make your outfits pop. They also add textured which helps bring portrait to life.

3 – Know your goals.

Depending on what you plan to do with the portraits impacts how the session is captured and even how you dress. Looking for a large wall portrait for your living room? Great – what does that room look like? How is it painted, furnished? Is it a formal room or casual? What is it used for? Are we looking for a single focal piece, or a grouping? A formal space done in bold colors lends itself to a completely different outfit than a room meant for relaxing and fun. Beyond clothing choice, when capturing a session, knowing your goals helps me to best capture your family. Photographing for an album is very different than photography for a single wall portrait. Looking to match or coordinate with an existing piece? Let me know so I can keep that in mind. Does your space only lend itself to a vertical portrait? Perfect – I’ll be sure to focus more on vertical grouping. I’m here for you – but not a mind reader. Help a girl out ;)


4 – Know your family.

Nature not your thing? No prob – let’s plan something urban!

Everyone’s family is different, unique, and awesome. Things that might work for other family’s may not for yours. Eat dinner every day at 5p? Than a session at 5p not be the best plan as everyone will be hungry – and being hangry does not lend itself to happy portraitist. Be sure to bring a snack or plan a different time if possible. Have fur babies? Bring a treat or toy they like to help reward and get their attention. Does mom or little Sally frequently get cold? Bring a sweater or gloves to wear between set ups. Not into bugs and nature? Plan a more urban session – being comfortable with your surrounds will show in your body language and expression. Just because grassy fields work well for some doesn’t mean we have to do them for everyone. Have little ones (and this applies partially to fur babies too) – here are some things that will help make family portrait time a success:

- Talking with them and using positive language. Maybe portraits aren’t totally your thing, and that’s ok (though I promise you, this is going to be a blast!) Children feed off of your emotions and feelings. They can tell if something is up. Be relaxed and honest – and with me too. If there is something you have concerns about – weight, clothes, location, your hair, whatever – let me know.

Fall Family Portrait, Family Portrait by Lake

- Remember they are kids. They are going to run around, they are going to act like kids, they might get dirty, they are probably going to act some way you don’t want them to. It’s ok. Children are creatures of habit, and when you change that habit, it’s a big deal. Especially for some kids. Know that this is common – and ok. (This is a big one for fur babies too!)

- That whole creatures of habit thing? Have you ever noticed your child was happier in the morning vs the evening? I’m not talking teens here, but young children especially seem to do better for morning sessions. It’s tricky as most adults need to work in the morning, but you’d be surprised how often we have better success with young children in the morning. If they are so young to still be napping, be sure to chat about what their current nap schedule is looking like and don’t plan something during a normal nap time – they will NOT be happy campers and you can bet they will be sure we all know about it.


5 – Just do it.

It’s easy to come up with a million excuses not to do a family portrait. I need to lose ten pounds, I’m a mess, I have nothing to wear, our schedule is packed, I’m fat, we can’t do weekends, my husband/wife/mother/whomever doesn’t want to, I’ll look better in a couple months… (noticing a theme?) Don’t wait. Women especially are their worst critics. I frequently hear from mom’s “Oh just do the kids – I look fat/dumpy/gross/horrible.” That’s not what I see. And it’s really not what your children and husband sees. They love you. And the awful thing is, life likes to throw you a curve ball. And then it may be too late. When your children look back after you aren’t here to hold them, love and support them, if there isn’t photographic evidence of you to share with future generations, what will your legacy be? They don’t care how you look – they love you and want to be able to remember and cherish you, just like they do now. We are all important to someone. We are all beautiful. You (and your family) deserve to be photographed and remembered.


So don’t wait! I have this feeling fall is going to be shorter than we’d all hope so call today. Let’s get together and brainstorm something fun for your family! I can’t wait to meet you – or see you and your loved ones again :)

(Had to leave you with a peek of our family shenanigans ;) )

~ Jen

PS – Too busy this Fall – or Fall just not your thing? No prob! We can rock family portraits any time – just take a cue from these awesome families!

Summer fun, lounging by the pool at home!

Sweaters in the snow – this is Minnesota after all :)

Blossoms in the spring – GORGEOUS!

The main thing – start talking about it, start planning it, and let’s rock it!

Jen Thompson Photography ° Copyright © 2013
320-260-9057 ° ° 620 7th Ave N, St. Cloud MN