Get ready for your closeup. Tips For nailing the family portrait.

The long, golden days of summer are firmly in place on the Seacoast, with picturesque sunsets that may have you considering an outdoor portrait session with the family. Before your photographer knocks at the door, camera in hand, here are a few tips to help capture your family at their best.

Flattering forecast.
If you’re heading outdoors, be sure to pick a time when the light is soft. Try to avoid bright, mid-day shoots where you’ll potentially be squinting into the sun or taking cover to avoid harsh shadows. Evening is usually preferable with its gorgeous, warm sunsets, but early birds (i.e. anyone with a toddler at home) may choose to venture out before the breakfast hour.

Mix ‘n’ match.
You’ve seen coordinated outfits in many family shots, whether khakis and white shirts or denim and tees. Matched families make a lovely, traditional portrait, but consider color this year, coordinate without matching, mix bright colors with complimentary patterns. Go bold!

More wardrobe ideas.
Wear what you’re confident in. If you’re comfortable it will show, and if you’re not, well, that will come through too. Be sure kids aren’t in itchy pants or scratchy shirts to keep fidgeting and grimaces to a minimum.

Shake up your poses.
Everyone loves a nicely-arranged family shot with (if you’re lucky) everyone smiling, looking right at the camera on cue. But consider adding some journalistic images, shots of your family being goofy, playful, candid. In my own experience, these between-pose shots often become session favorites.

Know your photographer.
You’re inviting someone you may only know via email exchanges to capture more than just smiling faces, they’ll be creating a record of your family dynamic, your personalities, yourselves at a specific point in your lives. That’s a lot to hope for from just an hour or so. Before you send your deposit, have a chat with your photographer, be sure you’re comfortable with her style and personality.

Not everyone enjoys having their picture taken, but there are simple ways to make your photo session comfortable and low-stress. A professional photographer will help put your group at ease and skillfully capture frame-worthy images. Keep these tips in mind as you prepare for shoot day and all you’ll have to worry about is not blinking.

About the author: Brenna Jennings is an experienced photographer living in Portsmouth with her husband, three spoiled dogs and almost-two-year-old daughter. Visit her blog at for advice and musings on parenting by surprise.

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