Family Portraits

How Long Should A Professional Family Photo Session Last

by Stuart Hasson

Everyone’s got a cell phone these days and they’re always available. They come with pretty good cameras, too. Snapping a quick group shot is pretty simple. But what about when you want a really great family portrait? How long does that take and how do you make it happen?

Finding a photographer is not a problem at all. A quick Google search and you’ll have plenty of choices. However, finding the RIGHT professional photographer for your family’s once in a lifetime event (or if you want a really nice portrait) shouldn’t be left to the Google Roll-of-the-Dice! Contact at least 3 who’s website looks like they’ll do the job and they’re style appeals to you

Now, how long’s it going to take? As always, that depends. Where would you like to have the session? In the Studio? In your home? At a special location? To get the best results spend a little time thinking about what you’re hoping for. You don’t have to be specific, but a few decisions will make the process go much smoother, more quickly and the results will be more in line with what you’re hoping for.

Some of the big ones:
1. Is this going to be a formal studio session or a more relaxed (you can still get gussied up) kind of thing?
2. If it’s outside, where? Specific location (on our dock at our lake house)
3. In your home? Does the photographer do this? Do you have the room/space?
4. If it’s a big family gathering, how much time do you need? Does the photographer charge by the hour or by the session?
5. If it’s a studio session, where is the photographer located? What’s their availability? How much time is allotted?

Your session should not be a rush job. You’re going to want to have enough time to do it right, but not linger and waste your time. Discuss this with your photographer before the session. Studio sessions should require minimal set-up time compared to a location session. Shooting in your home or in your favorite park require the photographer to have a little setup time for selecting the right location and setting the lights. (If they’re not bringing lights, find another photographer. Pro’s use lights and take the time to set them up!). Normally, 15 – 20 min. should be enough time to test the settings, do a test shot or two and be ready to shoot.

How many groupings are you expecting? A young couple with a newborn requires just a few different groupings, perhaps just one. A multi-generational, large family reunion event will be a bit more complex. Make a list of the groups. Let your photographer know the ‘Must Haves’. They’ll be able to tell you a pretty good estimate of the time it will take.

One of the most important things that I do before taking on a Family Session is to chat with mom about the details. We go over all of the stuff listed above so that I know what she’s hoping for; what’s most important for this session and how to best use the time that I’ve got to create fantastic, memorable portraits for her. When I’ve got this information, the sessions are quicker and the smiles are bigger when mom sees the images. This is how my clients can really enjoy their portraits for a lifetime.

This picture is about 30 years old but it brings me back every time I look at it. THAT’s why I’m a photographer: To help people REMEMBER all of the good things in their Life!

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