Family pictures hold a special place in my heart. I grew up looking at all the family portraits on my grandparent’s wall and I loved seeing how the families grew over generations. I take that same feeling with me every time I go to do a family portrait session.
Family portraits are a type of family heirloom that will be carried down for generations to come. Don’t think of them as just a snapshot of what you look like at the moment. They are a record of your family in a time of your life that will never be repeated. These family pictures are not just for you, they are for your children and your children’s children. I think the stress that family pictures may bring is worth it for the value that they provide your family for years to come.
Fall season is the most common time for family pictures. So many families use these pictures for their annual holiday greeting cards that they send out to friends and family. While I love doing family photo shoots around that time, I also think there’s a missed opportunity for families that don’t do their portraits during the other seasons.
We are located in sunny Southern California where we are known for our beautiful beaches and year-long gorgeous weather. You can take family pictures any time of year. Scheduling family pictures during the Spring or Summer helps avoid crowds. It’s very common during family portraits in the Fall to have to wait your turn or fight for spots because there are just so many other photographers and families around.
I know it’s tempting through to want to have the look of Fall/Winter if your family pictures, but we live in California and our seasons pretty much all look alike so why try and change that? So many photographers across the country envy us because we can schedule photo shoots any time of the year. I think it’s amazing that mom’s can wear a dress to their family photo shoot and not have to worry about layering up for the cold.
Another reason I suggest doing your family photography in Orange County in the Spring or Summer is because the days are longer, which means we have more available light for longer periods of time. For example, my Fall/Winter family portrait sessions are scheduled typically between 3pm -5pm because the sunsets so early. Those can sometimes be challenging times for kids that may be on a later nap schedule. During the Spring/Summer months, the sunset is much later and we can do shoots up till about 7pm. This helps for some families that have busy weekends and prefer to do a family shoot during the week.
The beauty of family photography in Orange County is that they can take place almost anywhere. If your family spends a lot of time at the beach, enjoys hiking in the local mountains, or taking bike rides in the park, we can incorporate those locations into your photo shoot. We are lucky to live in an area with so many beautiful beaches that many families choose to use for their family portraits. Some of my favorites are Laguna Beach, Doheney Beach, El Matador Beach, and Corona del Mar. Each has their own unique qualities so once I know the look that you’re going for, I can help pick the correct beach. Warning though, beach photo shoots usually end up with everyone splashing in the ocean.
Parks are probably the most popular place for family photo shoots. I’ve photographed families in so many different parks across Orange County, CA. Carbon Canyon, Irvine Regional, Yorba Regional Park and so many more. I like the versatility that parks offer but they can also be a challenge when the kids see that shiny playground calling to them haha
If you like a more glam look, I have a few location suggestions for glam family portraits as well. I have done family photo shoots are the Disney Concert Hall, downtown Fullerton and Pasadena City Hall to name a few. I also love doing photo sessions at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.
Once we’ve decided on the location for your family pictures, I will send you an email with a prep guide. It includes some of the things that you can do to help make it a successful photo shoot. It's especially helpful with younger children. Ironically, one of the best things that you can do for your photo shoot is to just relax.
I know family photography in Orange County it can be a stressful situation. Trying to get everybody together and make sure that everyone is behaving correctly. Some of the best images that I capture during family photo sessions are when the kids are off doing their own thing. Those are the moments when you get the most authentic reactions from them. It could be excitement, wonder, or even anger. Pouty faces are some of my favorites. Not every picture in your gallery is going to be with everybody facing the camera with a smile on their face. I like to include pictures of everybody naturally interacting and being themselves as well.
Before you leave the house, make sure that you have plenty of snack or bribes on hand. A child would do amazing stuff for a piece of chocolate. If we happen to get a particularly grumpy toddler, sometimes a picture of them munching on a gold fish cracker is better than no picture at all. So try to come to the shoot with full tummies, a favorite snack, and a sippy cup of their favorite beverage.
During family portrait sessions, I tend to spend the most amount of time interacting with the children. I want them to feel as comfortable with me as possible because that’s what helps get the best family pictures. My general instruction for families is that if I’d like you to do something specific, I will let you know. Otherwise, just do whatever comes naturally. Those interactive family pictures will be interspersed with some traditional family poses, as well as individual portraits of everyone present. I also like to use as many combinations of different family members as we can get.
Family members of 6 or less are considered an average family size for portraits. However, I do have a lot of requests for extended family portraits and that is not a problem. Some families choose to combine several smaller family portrait sessions as part of a larger family portrait that includes the grandparents and all the cousins. I actually love this idea. It's a great way to get everyone comfortable for pictures because they are all surrounded by family. It’s a great opportunity for grandma and grandpa to get some professional pictures as well, which is something they probably haven’t done for a number of years. I absolutely love getting grandparent portraits. It's fun asking them to kiss at the end because I get the best facial expressions from them.
These large family portrait session will take a little bit longer simply because we are interacting with more people. There also will be a lot more talking amongst yourselves so it will take a little longer to settle down haha So be prepared to bring something to entertain little ones while I’m working with the various smaller family units.
One could write a whole book on how to style families for their photo shoot. The main rule that you want to consider when planning outfits for family portraits is that you want everyone to coordinate but not specifically match. Gone are the days of white t-shirts and jeans. Modern family portraits will have everyone within a common color scheme wearing different patterns. First pick an outfit for the person that is typically hardest to shop for or the person that you want to stand out. Then you can pick out everyone else’s clothes based on the first outfit.
Don’t be afraid to mix up some patterns and colors. Mom can be wearing a pretty floral dress and one of the kids can be in a polka dot outfit, as long as they are in the same color scheme. Now, don’t get too crazy and have every person in a pattern, but it is ok to mix a few pieces.
If you like a more traditional family portrait, you can choose to have everyone in a solid colored outfit. Again, make sure that you add some variety so that not everyone looks like they’re wearing the same outfit. An example would be everyone wearing different tones of neutrals (browns, beige and cream).
I like to give a sneak peek on my social media pages within 48 hours of a photo shoot. You are welcomed and encouraged to share your sneak peek. Your final gallery will be completed within 2-3 weeks. I know it’s tempting to just let the digital files stay on your devices. I offer a variety of products to make sure that your pictures actually make it to your walls. Printing your pictures and displaying them for your children to see is one of the greatest gifts that you can give them.
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