I worked at a professional portrait studio for about a year and during that time I have had the opportunity to see all facets of adults and children come in to get their portraits taken. It always boggled my mind that people always seemed to want their photographs taken at the most unflattering or unplanned out times. And yet these are the same people that would undoubtedly complain about their pictures when they came back to pick them up. I am going to share with you some things that you should keep in mind the next time you decide to get your child’s professional portraits taken.
Appointments- Some portrait studios will not let you make appointments, but if your portrait studio takes appointments then take advantage of this opportunity and make an appointment. Make sure to arrive anywhere from 5-10 minutes before your scheduled appointment, there are two reasons for this. The first being that if there are no other sessions at the time when you walk in, the photographer can get your session started as soon as you come in and thus hopefully getting you out quicker. The second reason being it is just common courtesy to be at least on time, however many people assume that because you made a portrait appointment it will hold your slot no matter what time you come in. This is not the case, in the portrait studio that I worked in we had a 5 minute waiting window, if you didn’t come in within 5 minutes of your scheduled time then any walk-ins or next appointment that was waiting got your slot. When you make the appointment make sure to ask if there are any appointments scheduled before yours and how many. If at all possible the best time to make a portrait appointment would be to schedule it for the first one of the day, so you will be able to get in and get out without any delays. Remember to take in consideration the following things before you make your portrait appointment: Child’s schedule (ie. nap time,mealtime, etc), Your schedule (ie. Any other appointments, errands,etc) holidays and the weather. For some portrait studios certain days are slower than others make sure to ask your portrait photographer if there is a certain day that is better to schedule your session on.
Child’s routine or schedule– I touched on this a bit in the appointment section, but let me be a bit more elaborate here. I don’t know how many babies I have seen that come into the portrait studio fussy and then have their parent say “Well, they just woke up from a nap, or they are hungry, or they are tired”. Please!! If your child is tired, hungry or just woke up, now is not the grand opportunistic time for you to get their portraits done. Have your children fed, well rested and fully awake before you decide to bring them in for a portrait session. It makes for a more pleasant experience all the way around.
Clothing and General Grooming- Getting your portraits taken professionally should be something that you have planned out, not some fly by the seat of your pants thought. That being said, remember to groom your child accordingly. No matter how small or light a stain may be, the chances are that it will show up in your finished portraits. Try to find colors that go well with your child’s features. If you are doing portraits with more than one child, make sure the colors they are wearing complement each other. You rarely can go wrong with solid colors. Please do not forget to brush your child’s hair and style it the way you wish to have it before coming into the portrait studio. If your child has marker, paint or just dirt in general on them rest assured that those things will indeed show up in the finished portrait.
Smiles- The best smile is a genuine smile. That being said, this is normally not the smile that the average person wants their child to have while they are having their portraits taken and I honestly have no idea as to why this is. I have seen and just as equally photographed many beautiful smiles only to have the parent say, “No, I think they can do better”. This inevitably turns into a portrait session where the photographer takes in excess of 20 some shots to have the parent say,” I think I liked the first one, the best”. Let your child smile naturally, you can always tell the difference between a natural and a forced smile when you look at your portraits.
Talk to your portrait photographer before the session starts– Most portrait photographers are very open to suggestions. If you have a certain pose that you wish to achieve, take a few minutes before the start of the portrait session and let your photographer know what you want and equally if there are poses that you don’t wish to have, let them know that as well. Some portrait studios have props that they use, if your portrait studio has props and you wish to have them included in your portraits let this be made known as well to the photographer.
Pick out your backgrounds accordingly– When looking through the backgrounds that your portrait studio has available keep in mind the color scheme of your child’s clothing and how many people will be in the portraits. Ask your photographer how much of the background will be visible in the portrait, sometimes not all of the smaller portrait backgrounds will be visible.
Holidays– The holiday season is one of the busiest times in any portrait studio. There are some ways to lessen the hassle and crowds of the holiday rush. Find out when your portrait studio changes the backgrounds, some portrait studios keep backgrounds available all year long while others have certain time frames that they use the backgrounds. The portrait studio that I worked for would put up the Christmas holiday backgrounds about the beginning of November. The sooner you take your pictures the less chance you will have of being in caught up in the mad rush of the holidays. Choose to use solid backgrounds for your holiday portraits and you have the option of having your portraits taken at any time that suits your needs best. Basically, the later you wait to get your portraits done, the worse the wait will be.
I hope these tips help you to have a successful portrait session the next time you set out to have your child’s portraits taken.