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4 Ways to a Simple & Stress-Free Family Portrait Session

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

Updating your annual family portraits needn’t be a stress-filled, monumental undertaking. With a few simple suggestions you can get through it, stress-free and actually enjoy the process!

Here’s how one busy family conquered it unscathed.

1. They opted for a Lifestyle Portrait Session at their home.

For busy Moms and Dads, opting to have an in-home Lifestyle session rather than at a remote location is a huge stress reliever when thinking about the time and hassle it saves. Sure, it’s a trade-off: your humble backyard versus that gorgeous lush or beachy location but just think about the perks: no fighting traffic, no searching for a parking space, and no worrying about being on time! And bonus: pretty much everyone is most comfortable in their own environment so having a portrait session at home is the first step to feeling more relaxed in front of the camera.

2. They decided to do Double-Duty by using some of the photos for their Holiday Card.

Why wait till the end of the year rush to have your holiday card photos done? Ever heard of Christmas in July? Well, it’s not just about Hallmark Holiday movies and stock up for Christmas sales. Why not think about having your Holiday portraits done earlier in the year when there’s less pressure to get things done?

Have your heart set on a more autumnal or winter look for your Holiday photos? No worries, you can always dress for the occasion (think sweaters, scarves, and hats) and add a few Yuletide props.

3. They kept it authentic by staying true to their own style.

Their style choice was totally them, not clothes or styles they otherwise would never wear. They each chose outfits that they felt good about wearing. Whether you decide to dress-up or keep it casual is not important, but wearing clothes that you feel great in is important and will definitely have an impact on how you look in your photos.

You know you’ve heard it before: “If you look good, you feel good” and vice versa. Well as a matter of fact, there’s actually bit of scientific psychology behind this. Turns out it’s a phenomenon scientists have dubbed “enclothed cognition.” This is simply the scientific term for the idea that clothing impacts how we think. The theory says the clothing we wear (or that others are wearing) actually changes our thought patterns. [You can read about it here. Or watch an inspiring TED Talk on it here.]

This is perhaps most obvious in kids. Ever try to put an outfit on a child who does-NOT-want-to-wear-it? Umm yah! We’ve all been there or least been witness to such a scene. Not fun! But put a superhero cape on the child or a pretty tutu and tiara and like magic, the happiest little angel appears. The same holds true with an outfit they love wearing.

There are many articles on the subject and various experiments which prove the point but for our purposes here, the take away is that when you feel good about what you are wearing you will think good about the way you look. If YOU think you look good then you will look fabulous in photos! At the very least you’ll feel pretty good about them.

4. They relaxed, went with the flow and just had fun.

Let’s face it, most people, myself included, aren’t that comfortable in front of the camera. It can make us feel self-conscious and quite awkward. No one likes standing around in a stiff formation wondering if they look alright while waiting to be ordered to “say cheese”. Fortunately, that’s where I step in with subtle cues to guide you into natural poses and comfortable interactions that enable more candid style images to be captured.

Eventually, you’ll forget the camera is there (most of the time anyway) and have fun with each other and do the things you naturally do together. That’s pretty much what happened in this session. We started with a few simple family bonding poses and before long they were all laughing and having a good time playing together.

One of my favorite things to photograph is people in their own environment doing the things they love doing, whatever it may be. These simple things give images a meaning and purpose and create memories for years to come. They may even become heirlooms one day for future descendants. Now that may sound a bit crazy or far-fetched but think about the old photos you have of your parents when they were young or even your grandparents.

One of my own favorite keepsake photos is of my grandmother at age four, sitting on the porch of her ancestral home holding her favorite doll. It is a much-treasured heirloom, especially since my grandmother told me how she remembers that day and her favorite doll! But that’s a topic for another post. The point is how a simple photo can have a far-reaching impact because it has meaning and purpose.

My grandmother, Pauline Gifford with her favorite doll on the steps of her ancestral family home in Hartsville, TN. Circa 1916.


You can have a stress-free and fun family photo session with these four simple suggestions:

  1. Opt for an in-home session.

  2. Use the session as an opportunity to gather a few photos for your Holiday photo card.

  3. Keep it simple; wear what you are comfortable and feel good in.

  4. Relax and just go with the flow. Allow your photographer worry about how you should look.

I hope this helps put you at ease when thinking about your next photo session.

Have you got any tips on how you rock your portrait sessions? Share them in the comments below.

You can learn more about our portrait and lifestyle sessions at

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