- How to Give Your Clients Free Photography Gifts (and Why You Should Do It)
- Take Better Photos With These Quick Tips
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If you’ve ever done a family portrait session for your own family then you know exactly how stressful they can be. There will be a family emergency a few hours before the shoot. You won’t have as much time as you thought you did to get ready. Your children will insist on throwing a tantrum right as you’re walking out the door.
So, if you do family portrait photography, then you should be doing everything you can to ensure your clients don’t have a stressful time.
While the parents will probably always be stressed because they know how much they spent on this family portrait session and they want it to go perfectly, helping them to prepare their children for a comfortable session will eventually ensure they relax as well.
Here are some easy pieces of family portrait advice you can give to your clients before your next family portrait session.
Wear Comfortable Clothing
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I’ve talked about how much I hate color coordination in family portraits before. This advice still stands. I think that if you want a cohesive photo, then you can choose a similar range of colors to dress each member of the family in. Think pastels for Easter portraits, clothing with pops of red for Christmas, or beiges, off-whites, and navies for a more serious family portrait session.
But, the more important tip is to make sure everyone in the family wears something comfortable. This is especially true for small children. If they think their sweater is itchy, their discomfort will show in the portraits.
Use a Professional
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One of the things I’ve always told any mom I’ve ever worked with is that they should hire a professional makeup and hair artist before their family portrait session.
The first reason why I suggest this is that I’ve found moms usually set the tone for the session. If mom is unhappy, then everyone is unhappy. But, on the other side of the coin, if mom is feeling pretty and confident, everyone picks up on this confidence and feels more ready for the family portrait session.
The other reason why I suggest this is more practical, though. When mom doesn’t have to worry about getting herself ready, it’s much, much easier to get all of the kids ready. I suggest hiring a makeup artist to come to their home around 4 hours from the family portrait session, so that both parents can tackle handling the kids in the hours leading up to the shoot.
Recommend Getting High-Quality Prints
A lot of families will want to know exactly what their family portrait session is going to cost them up front. This is understandable as it can be a really large investment.
But, my problem is that I frequently want to upsell my clients after the shoot is over and if I’ve already told them an exact price for the photoshoot, then I notice my families are much less likely to purchase any add-ons at the end of the shoot.
One way around this problem is to give your families a price range. So, instead of saying your photoshoot will cost them $500, you can say it will cost them between $450-$550 depending upon some of the options you will have for them towards the end of the shoot.
This way, it is much easier to upsell your families, which is obviously great for you but it can also be great for your family.
I almost always use canvas prints to upsell my family portrait sessions. I use CanvasHQ to do so.
CanvasHQ prints last for up to a century because they are printed on museum-grade canvas with long-lasting, fade-resistant ink. So, I can promise my families that this print will be in their family until their children grow up and pass it onto their grandkids.
CanvasHQ also provides canvases in a really wide range of sizes, so that your families can choose the ones that best fit with their living situation. If they’re living in a nice-sized home in the suburbs, they can purchase a large print to hang over their mantle. If they’re living in a smaller apartment in the city, they can purchase a smaller print to put in their master bedroom.
This wide range of sizes also translates to a wide range of prices, which means every family you work with can get a high-quality print, no matter their budget. CanvasHQ prints start at just $20.
Encourage Children to Be Themselves
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I’ve already made my point about how stressful this type of thing is for a family. But, a lot of times I notice parents taking this stress out on their children, by standing over my shoulder and yelling at the kids to look at the camera or say “cheese.”
This unequivocally means the photos will come out truly terribly. Kids are bad at forcing smiles. You can see if a child is genuinely happy or not and loudly screaming at them to act happy is not the best way to make them genuinely happy.
I encourage parents to have children just act like themselves so that I can get more genuine reactions out of them. Sometimes this does mean that I intervene in the middle of a shoot (kindly, of course) to remind the parents that it’s okay for the children to be messing around with each other, etc.
The more comfortable children feel to be themselves during a family portrait session, the more comfortable they will look on film.
Forget About the Camera
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This family portrait session tip runs along the same line. I encourage my families to interact with one another. Nobody can ever truly forget that a photographer is taking their photos, but I make sure everyone knows that they don’t always need to be looking at me in order for me to take great photos.
In fact, all of my favorite photos from my sessions happened organically. For example, I was doing a family portrait session earlier this year with a set of siblings, aged 2-14. The moment I stopped trying to “pose” them, the 2 year old threw her arms around the 14 year old’s neck in the biggest, most genuine hug I’ve ever seen. The father started crying when I showed him the shot.
On the other hand, I’ve never had someone cry from a fake, forced, “cheesy” smile where everyone was looking at the camera!