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How to Make Family Portrait Day Go Smoothly

When you decide to get your portrait of your family and/or children done in Chicago, it’s an exciting occasion! There’s all kinds of work involved in finding the right photographer, and once you’ve put in the work and settled on the photographer who you know will help you craft the perfect family portrait in your local Chicago area, then it’s time for Portrait Day.

You may be a little nervous about Portrait Day, or have questions about what you can do to make things go as smoothly as possible. Don’t worry—that’s the photographer’s job! But there are a few things that can help you prepare.

The Day Before Your Family Portrait Session

  • Take it easy. Get some rest – you don’t want to look tired in the pictures.
  • Hydrate! The key to radiant skin is drinking plenty of water.
  • Don’t drink alcohol – it dehydrates your skin and ends up emphasizing all the fine lines on your face. That’s the opposite of what you want for your picture.
  • Pick outfits – you do not want to be scrambling to find outfits the day of the session
  • Pack snacks for any little kids
  • Make sure everything is packed and ready to go so the day of the session all you have to do is round up the troops and head for the session.

Choosing Makeup

  • Carefully choose your foundation so there’s no telling “line” where it doesn’t blend seamlessly into your skin. Ensure it’s a clean match all over, from your face to your neck.
  • Don’t overdo it – simple is best when it comes to portrait makeup. Especially don’t lay the blush on too heavy.

Choosing Outfits

  • Clothes can make or break a portrait. So don’t just reach for something random in closet.
  • Keep in mind that your clothes need to complement everyone else’s clothes in the portrait.
  • Keep everyone’s outfit to a similar shade. You don’t need to all be matchy-matchy, but similar tones help create a pleasing visual effect.
  • If one person wears white, everyone should wear white. Otherwise there’s a color discrepancy that draws the eye only to the person(s) wearing brighter colors.
  • Avoid patterns – prints are distracting from the main focus of the photograph: you and your family!
  • I’ll say it again because it’s that important: avoid patterns! If just one person walks in wearing polka dots, that distracts from everyone else who isn’t.
  • Wear solid, dark colors.
  • If you’re doing the session outdoors, earthy colors like brown or green work well.
  • There’s no need to go ultra-formal. Dresses are fine, but jeans also look good in a portrait. They follow the solid, dark rule and everyone has a pair, so it’s easy to coordinate the look.
  • Bring multiple outfits. A dark and a light outfit are always a good idea.
  • Gather up people’s clothes the night before and lay them beside one another to make sure they’re visual complements.

If you have questions about any of the above, don’t hesitate to call your chosen photographer before Portrait Day. Professional portrait photographers also always have examples of great-looking ensembles on their websites.

Other Tips for a Successful Family Portrait Day

Remember, this is supposed to be a fun, happy memory in terms of the actual event, not just the final photograph. So, if you have children:

  • Pre-photo session, get your kids excited. Sure, all the camera gear and an unfamiliar guy taking pictures can be scary, so show them other family portraits, explain the process, tell them this is their chance to be “movie stars,” etc.
  • If possible, try to book a session that sticks with your kids’ regular schedule so you’re not cutting into a specific activity. They won’t be happy if they’re missing something they love – and that will absolutely show.
  • Give little kids a chance to nap before the session so they’re wide awake and not cranky.
  • To that end … don’t schedule a session during your kids’ regular nap time. Disrupting their schedule is never good, and especially not on Portrait Day.
  • Offer a post-photography session reward for kids as incentives for when they inevitably get bored or tired. 
  • During the session itself, make sure you have snacks on hand and just let the photographer know if your kids need a break. That’s absolutely fine.
  • I mentioned extra outfits before – this also applies to tiny tots. You never know if they might find a way to get messy. 
  • If the kids have super-cute outfits that you all love, but which don’t match everybody else’s, bring those outfits along, too. There might be a chance to do a photo of only the kids at the end of the session.

During the Session

  • Remember to have fun! This is supposed to be a wonderful memory-making day for everyone.
  • It’s okay to be relaxed and goofy – just be yourselves and that will come through in a beautiful picture.
  • Trust the photographer to guide you through the experience. That’s the person’s job!

To Sum it All Up

  • Relax the day before, so you look great the day of the session
  • Opt for dark, solid clothes
  • Just say no to patterns for this one day
  • Keep makeup natural
  • Planning ahead by picking and packing outfits ahead of time makes things that much easier
  • Bring several outfits, just in case, including a dark and a light option
  • Get any little kids excited about their big day and make sure you factor in nap time. 
  • Call before the session if you have any questions
  • Enjoy the day!

Finally, you might be wondering a little about Kyle Bondeson Photography. I’m a Chicago-based professional photographer who specializes in family portraits. many clients will attest to my professionalism and expertise. My goal is to make your family portrait session relaxed and fun, providing you with a great day, along with great pictures. I’m the guy who’s going to walk you through the whole photography session and ensure you have beautiful memories for years to come.

I have a degree in photography and have many years of experience doing family portraits in Chicago, but don’t just take my word for it—take a look at my Chicago Family Portraits Section to see samples of my work. Then, don’t hesitate! Call me today to book your appointment for a wonderful family portrait!