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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!

Chocolate Lab Puppy? Yes Please!

Written by Jen on . Posted in Fur and Feather Friends, The Art of You - Portrait Goodness, We Are Family!

Wanted to share a quick peek of my gorgeous model from this morning! Meet Beautiful Bailey!

Jenny, Jake and Bailey Fur Family Portraits 2014

Isn’t she gorgeous! About 14 weeks old and all puppy! What a little bundle of energy – and then she totally crashed! My money’s on her passing out for the rest of the day! I hope for Jenny and Jake’s sake she’s not up all night!

I’m so excited my new red arrived just in time to experiment with this lovely lady! Loving this look – she just pops! After we played some in the studio, we ventured out for something a little more urban :)

Jenny, Jake and Bailey Fur Family Portraits 2014

Totally loving this little Family and their Fur Baby!

Today was a hoot! What a fantastic way to start the week! Happy Tuesday Everyone!

~ Jen

F for FALL! F for FAMILY!

Written by Jen on . Posted in We Are Family!

Happy October!  And hello new blog!  You’ll have to bear with me a little as I figure out all the new whatsiewhosies and flimflams… I’ll get there!

Its that time of year for snuggly sweaters, cute boots, funky scarves, rich jewel tones, and so much family fun!  Its the perfect time for outdoor portraits of your amazing family – before Mother Nature decides to slam us with her lovely MN Winterland ;)  Plan those holiday cards and gift portraits – 12 weeks til the holidays and counting!  Here’s a little peek at some fall family fun!

JTPFallFamily2Florabella Triptych Timeline

JTPFallFamily1Diptych 3

JTPFallFamily3Diptych 4

JTPFallFamily4Diptych 4

JTPFallFamily6Florabella Triptych Timeline

Loving it!  Such warm, rich tones – so many options!  Give me a shout and let’s start brainstorming something fun for your family!

~ Jen

L+N+A = FUN! ~ St. Cloud Childrens Photographer

Written by Jen on . Posted in Boys & Girls, We Are Family!

Meet the gang! For the past two years I have had the awesome honor of photographing this awesome trio! We always have such a blast and I love running around whereever we end up with them! This year we decided on a local park and had such a blast! Its so amazing to see them grow and learn all about them! The gears are already working on next years location! I cannot wait!

L • Skateboarder, guitar player, cheese pizza lover. He can totally rock pretty much every pose in the GQ catalog.

A • She’s the little model – pretty sure she would run around and pose for me all day! She always has awesome stories to tell me and I love it :)

N • Such a character! So full of energy but always has the perfect little quite smile for me. He never ceases to amaze me.

*HUGS* Thanks for another awesome session guys! I know we are going to have many more!

~ Jen

Criss Cross makes you wanna….

Written by Jen on . Posted in We Are Family!

Jump! Jump!

I’ve honestly yet to find an occasion where jumping doesn’t make everything 8 million times better!! I mean, really – it makes you happy, its exercise, it helps keep you warm when its 40ish degrees out….its really a win win all around in my book!

I got to hang with the Frerich gang this morning (and then Pizza Ranch after – woo hoo for dessert pizza!!) We had a pretty rocking time running around the farm. Just wanted to share some jumpy fun with all the kids – it will make you smile and that’s a good thing – let the smiles come :)

~ Jen


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