Tips for a Successful Spring Family Portrait

 Tips for a Successful Spring Family Portrait



Mother nature is bursting to unveil her 2019 Spring Collection! Everywhere I drive I see the signs. Wisteria blooms be poppin’, wildflowers be creepin’, and the flowering bud watchdogs are out in full force. It is officially time to start planning your spring family portrait.

If you are anything like me you wait until the last minute to do everything and most of the time it becomes to late to even  worry about it, yes I am still holding on to the majority of my Christmas cards! (le sigh, maybe this year) So, today I want to lay out the foundation for you to be on top of your 2017 Spring  family portrait.My hope is that it becomes a fun experience for the whole family. It should not be one giant ball of stress eating away at your sanity.


‘ It’s family portrait day 2016. Susan won’t get out of the bath.  Jeremy is purposely packing spinach in his teeth as a fun little surprise for mom later. Dad is on the couch, or in bed, or out mowing the damn lawn ( anything to avoid getting ready for the family portrait). Mom is dressed and ready to go, or she would be if she weren’t in the corner eating her own hair. ‘

Sound familiar? OK, well, it might be a little dramatic but I am sure you can relate on some level right? What if there were a better way?

If you don’t want to bother doing any of the work STOP READING NOW and sign up for my 2019 Omaha Spring Family Portrait Session Event HERE …. It will save you time reading through all of this post and you can have a beautiful and fun experience. *

The Better Way


I am sorry but JC Penny? Really!? NO! I get it, they are cheap and get the job done. At what cost emotionally though? I want you to take a moment to sit and look through your JC Penny family portrait over all of these years. Think about those days, how did you feel? Is dad smiling? Do the kids look like themselves? Can you feel the soul of your beautiful little family surfacing through that print. Now, find a friend who has hired a personal, professional photographer and invite yourself over to look at their memories. When I say professional, I mean someone who takes the time to guide and nourish knowledge and relationships in their clients. Someone who walked them through the art of printing their photos. Someone who took the time to plan and style their session.

Now, what does their family portrait look like? More importantly, what does it feel like? Does it help you connect with your friend’s family on an emotional level? Does it represent the perfect imperfection that is each family member? Are they having a good time? Are they genuinely happy to be there?

What about the products? The quality, the sophistication, the class. Each one designed specifically for your friend’s family by their photographer. Many of them, local artisan brands that were hand made in some fashion.

JC Penny doesn’t offer the level of customer service that your local photographer can give you. They can’t because they would go out of business. If you are looking for a stressful, sanity reducing, but cheap (and cheaply done) quick shot to get a simplified family portrait then JC Penny is waiting and you don’t need to read any further.

However, since you are here I assume that means you are looking for all of the help you can get to have a fun, playful family portrait session. One that results in products that accurately reflect your family at this point in time. As Omaha’s premiere family photographer, my clients get all of this information but they also get all of this done for them before, during and after their session to make the whole process smooth and entertaining. I also wanted it out there for families across the country and the world to help them recognize the value in a great, small business, photographer local to them. They are an invaluable resource and you will never regret your investment with them as my clients don’t with me.  So, let’s get started.


What Should we Wear?

The question of ALL questions. There are a few general rules when plan your family portrait wardrobe but other than that it can be pretty simple to fit to your taste. If you still need some inspiration after reading this please contact me and take full advantage of my wardrobe planning, a staple in each family photo session I offer.

Keeping the following in mind is sure to give you a great foundation for your final picks! A little reminder to my clients, wardrobe styling is part of your experience with me {more about this in ‘Session Planning + Design’ below}.

It is important:



  • it doesn’t matter how cute that outfit is, if it is too itchy or tight you will be miserable the entire time. Sessions with a small business photography company is customized for individuality and freedom. You are meant to be relaxed and have a good time. Kids will not be smiling if they don’t like their outfit. Make sure they can move around in what they are wearing. So the first rule is to make sure everyone is COMFORTABLE!


  • This goes along with being comfortable but i think it’s also important to separate it. If you need to go out and buy new clothes do so. You are investing a great deal of time and money into your family portrait so make sure you are happy with the results.


  • I can’t stress this on enough. You must coordinate your clothing so that it looks right together but if you show up in all white or everyone wearing the same shirt I will make you go home and change. I am a big fan this season of bold floral prints and soft and natural colors.


  • Guys, please don’t wear a suit and tie to an outdoor spring family portrait session. To your partners I say, please don’t make them/ Not only does this tie into the comfort factor, it is going to look awkward and out of place. Unless it is TRULY part of your identity.


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What About Accessories?

Accessories can as a fun and playful element to any family portrait, however, there are a couple of things worth noting. Do you have children? Babies and young children can often become fixed on mommy’s pretty necklace and earrings making it difficult to get their attention focused back on the camera. In turn they can also get very upset if you take the jewelry away to get them to focus, resulting in a total meltdown. Sometimes it’s worth it to opt out of any jewelry. I love statement prices but you want to make sure whatever items you pick are not going to detract  from your overall look. We want your pretty face to be center of attention not that huge necklace.

Personal Hygiene?

Yes, we want you to taking a shower and brush your teeth before your family portrait session but that isn’t want this section is about. Cosmetic hygiene is important to any photo shoot. When planning your family portrait session I want you to think about…


  • If anyone is getting a haircut or their hair colored for this session make sure to do so 1-2 weeks prior. This gives your hair time to bounce back from an awkward ‘ just got cut’ phase. It also gives you plenty of time to correct mistakes for hair gone wrong!


  • Do your makeup however you choose. Just make sure it accurately reflects you and that it isn’t going to melt off your face giving you raccoon eyes 20 minute into your family portrait session. Light and fresh is always best! Don’t forget to bring touch up makeup with you on your session day! This way you always look perfectly put together.


  • Clean, plain and shaped nails for the whole family is a crucial factor. You don’t think you will notice until you do. I encourage no paint! Though i you love to have painted nails make sure to get gels done and a few days prior so that there are no chips.

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How Do I Keep my Kids Happy?

… You don’t. There is no hope for this one it is simply the luck of the draw. Good luck!

Oh no, I scared you! Haha, I’m sorry. There really are a few tips and tricks to get your kids in the mood for that family portrait. It isn’t hopeless I swear!

Snacks, bribes (these only work if you have them ready to go like candy), making a game out of it.

The biggest one of all however is…. relaxing and letting your photographer handle it!

I don’t care how wild or bad you think your kid is, truth is they are all the same. They just want to be free and have a good time and don’t understand why dad is yelling and mom is crying (haha). I want parents who work with me to take a deep, hugely deep, breath and enjoy your kids during the session. DO NOT threaten them during the session, that always leads into a total meltdown for the entire family and you walk away with crappy photos.

Your best bet is to walk away together and cool off or join in on the game. Those are the best memories anyway. Your kids always listen to others better than they listen to you, take advantage of that. This does not mean that you should let your child terrorize your photographer but a good balance of stern and kind parenting with a mixture of relaxed fun can make for an incredible family portrait session.


Session Planning + Design?

This is the really fun stuff. Like I mentioned earlier, all of my clients get these steps included with any package they order. When you book a session we immediately go into planning mode. That includes:



  • Take into account the personality and needs of your family members. Come up with a good list of possible location ideas, no matter how generic, and present them to your photographer. Let them dig through their location arsenal to find that perfect spot.


  • Get you a photographer who shops for you! Let me into your closet! I love to plan wardrobes either in person, by digging through closets or over text with lots and lots of photos! I will even take the time to search online for any pieces you might be missing and tell you exactly where to find them.


  • Typical props for my family portrait sessions generally include something simple like a couch. I don’t like to go over the top because the main focus is my clients. We can however plan a fun and interactive session with props if you prefer. Think about what you might want to include and let your photographer come up with a set design that  fits your vision. Also, make sure you have hired someone that will tell you when it is cheesy or just too much.


Printing my Photos…

OK, so the set design is a lot of fun but this is my favorite part. After your images are processed, I will create an emotional slideshow for each of my clients. Then we can sit down together with snacks and wine and watch the yummy goodness of their beautiful family on the screen.

I know, I had you hooked at wine and snacks right?

Once you have had a chance to properly take it all in we will work together while I guide you in choosing the products that fit your home and lifestyle. Whether it is a gorgeously printed album, a canvas gallery wall or a couple of desktop prints you will be matched with the perfect prints for you!

If you are not working with me at least make sure that you are working with a professional who will guide you through the thousands of products out there to get something that you will truly cherish and can pass on for generations to come.



If you found this useful I would greatly appreciate a repin on Pinterest or a Twitter/Facebook share. Also, your comments on this post are incredibly welcome as well. The comment section at the bottom is the perfect place for them.

Sign up for my 2019 Omaha Spring Family Portrait Session Event HERE 

If this article made you feel good about life again and you are native to the OMAHA< NE area, give me a ring and let’s get you a spot booked with Velvet Sage Photography.

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