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How to Prepare for a Family Portrait Photo Session

Updated: Jan 10

Family of 7 pose on a grassy area above the ocean during their family photo shoot on maui

How important is a nice family portrait?


Coming from a family in which my dad passed away just before my 4th birthday, I can tell you the one family portrait I have of my family before he died is absolutely priceless! Ours was taken by my dad who was a hobbyist photographer. The photo is a bit rough, but I still love it and am beyond grateful I have that one family portrait!


For families who are wanting to get a great photo, there are definitely things you can do to make sure everyone looks good during your family portrait photo session. I’ve come up with eight tips to follow to make sure your session is the best it can be.


1. When preparing for a family portrait photo session, the most important thing to remember is to get the clothing right! Put some thought and time into your clothing choices. Coordinating is better than matching as it gives the photo more dimension and interest. Generally, solid colors are better than prints, however, the right print can work in combination with solids as shown in the family above. Busy prints can be distracting or pull your eyes to that one person’s clothing. Sticking with solids is a safer choice, but if you find some patterns you love that you think will work, go for it. Maybe bring a 2nd option just in case the photographer thinks it is too busy. Ultimately, it is your photo, and as long as you like it, that is all that matters.

Many families like to wear white shirts with khakis or blue jeans. This looks okay, but realize the human eye is naturally drawn to white or light colors so when viewing the photo, the eye will be drawn to the white shirts before the faces. For this reason, I believe it is better to have color in the shirts. I also just think color adds more to the photo.

Darker colors are slimming and will draw people’s eyes to the faces before the clothing. I am in no way saying everyone should wear dark colors though. In Hawaii, people tend to favor fun colorful attire. Blues and greens are a great choice against the sky and ocean backdrop. Also, consider the mood you are trying to convey.

Definitely iron any wrinkles from your clothing and steer away from holes in the jeans! I also recommend everyone bring a second change of clothing for a second look or in case the first look doesn’t work or gets dirty or too wet.

Final tip about clothing, dress comfortably! Discomfort will show in your face and mood.


2. Be sure to get plenty of sleep the night before your session and avoid alcohol if possible. A good night’s sleep makes for fresh faces! Ditto for no alcohol!


3. Drink plenty of water before your session as water makes your complexion look better. You may also want to bring some water with you. Here in the bright Hawaiian sun, you will quickly get thirsty.


4. Avoid bright sun the day before or be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen. Sunburn can be edited out of your photos but will make more work for your photographer.


5. If you have young children, be sure to schedule your family portrait photo session at a time when the kids will be awake and in a good mood. Keep in mind times of day when they are usually in their best moods. Also, be sure kids are fed before the session. Hungry or thirsty kids makes for not so happy kids. We want to be sure everyone is happy for the session! For younger kids, you may also want to bring snacks and drinks for them to have during the session. These can always be used as bribes as well!


6. Keep makeup simple and classy. Be sure to touch up your makeup just before the session. It’s also best to not wear moisturizer during the shoot as this can cause shiny spots on the face from the flash which can be difficult to edit out.


7. For sunny days, bring a towel to remove sweat from faces. Again, the sun in Hawaii is very bright and will bring on sweat very quickly.


8. Finally, please, please, please do not stress during your session. Your kids may not be behaving as perfectly as you want them to. This is normal for kids. They don’t like to sit still for too long. Photographers are used to this and will try to work quickly if young kids are involved in the session. The weather may not be perfect or the temperature may be hotter than is comfortable, but try your hardest to not stress. Have fun with your family and your photographer and things will go smoothly! And more importantly, your images will come out better if you are not stressed!


If you are coming to Maui and would like to book a family photo session with me, just click here or call me at 808-344-1550.


And please share this post if you know of anyone who could benefit from the tips for preparing for a family photo session.

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