Before we give you tips for an awesome portrait session let’s be real for a moment. The dreaded family portrait session… we know, we get it!  In our home it goes something like this; wife subtly books a session and might mention said appointment to husband sandwiched in between much more exciting news in hopes that he won’t object.  From there, it’s off my check list until suddenly, the session is only 4 days away!  I don’t have time for online shopping, I do the obligatory spin through Target to try to find 6 reasonably priced outfits that won’t alarm my better half, and ultimately I end up with a trip to Nordstrom walking out way over budget and with 2 bags of clothes everyone is going to wear once and complain about the entire session.  

That’s only the beginning.  Can we talk for a minute about what in the world happens to my family 3 hours before our photographer shows up?!?  It’s like Armageddon!  The baby falls into a corner resulting in the most perfectly placed bruise front and center on her forehead.  The older brothers decide that it’s been way too long since they’ve had an all-out brawl and now is the perfect time.  And the poor middle child…  He didn’t nap, he stained his brand new over-priced button up and he can’t find his other shoe. Hang in there mom, T-minus 4 hours until you can collapse on to your couch, undoubtedly covered in sweat and tears (not your own) and enjoy the hardest earned glass of wine you’ve had in ages!

At the session you are greeted by an enthusiastic and optimistic photographer. You might resent her cheer for a quick and regretful moment. It’s go time and, “Mom, I have to go potty”…. The next hour you use every shred of self-restraint not to look like a villain from a Disney classic but for the love… “Stop hitting your bother”!!!  

Can I get an Amen?  Maybe that’s just our family but in case any of the above statements bring back deep repressed memories, we got your back!  


Let us share a few tips and tricks to prepare you for your very favorite portrait session EVER with Studio 220 this year! 

Tip 1 | Book Early!

Let’s start with when to schedule your session.  Most of our clients prefer to do their session outdoors in our coveted summer months.  We agree, this is truly the best time to get the most from your session.  We are all so busy with school schedules, summer activities and travels that most of our clients place a frantic call in late August realizing that school is starting, fall is coming, and they haven’t booked their session yet.  Not only does this mean you will be facing limited availability but you’re booking a session in one of the busiest times of your family’s calendar.  Instead, we suggest booking your session in April or May for a mid-summer shoot.  This gets it on your calendar and gives you the time to prepare and above all, have a perfectly timed session.  We love June through August sessions as it reflects the peak of summer. 

We offer an in-depth planning timeline to our clients in our VIP Family Facebook page.  Join Today.  

Tip 2 | Day of Best Practices

Whether or not you followed our planning guide, the day is here.  Embrace it, heck… laugh at it if you need to!  Here are a few helpful tricks to make this one of your favorite days of the year:

  • Get sleep!  Get bath time out of the way the night before, treat yourself to a facial (here is my favorite at home regiment) and make sure the whole family gets a healthy 8 hours of sleep.
  • Eat nutritious, low sugar meals the day of your session.  We want the kids to have healthy energy, less of the crash-and-burn so if possible, swap the Coco Puffs for eggs and bacon!
  • If your kids still nap, make sure to give them both the time for a regular nap and plenty of time to wake up before the start of your session.  No one wants to be thrown in front of a camera and told to be happy 5 minutes after waking up!  
  • Pack water, small bite size snacks that don’t stain clothes or teeth (Goldfish or fruit snacks are great options).  This said, pack light!  We will be moving about and want you as free from baggage as possible. 
  • Perhaps the most important thing in your bag will be your bribes.  Yes, I said it.  You have now entered the non-judgement zone.  Do sweet tarts bring smiles to your little one’s face?  Does the mention of extra screen time elicit the inner angel you otherwise call your 10-year-old son?!?  If ever there was a time to test out the behavior = reward strategy, it’s now. Like NOW!!!
  • And finally, my personal favorite tip on this listis the family reward that follows a good session.  For us, it’s a trip to the Suburban for burgers and beer followed by Licks for ice cream.  We want you to remember this as a special day with your family.  Make it something memorable by adding an activity or outing to bring you all together and reward the whole gang with quality time together. 

Check out our post about favorite things to do in Excelsior and make a day of it!  This happens to be the most magical place on earth (if you ask me)!

Tip 3 | Let It Go

As Elsa so wisely sings, Let It Go!  Like no matter what, let it go!  I wanted our family session to be perfect last year, even going so far to have my hair and make up done to ensure I would look and feel my best.  I did feel pretty damn hot (as in 120 degree heat index hot).  My luxe beach waves turned into a swampland the second I walked outside to load my babes into the car.  My makeup… need I even tell you what happened to that?  I was devastated.  There was the usual mayhem and unending bickering as we traveled to the lake for “the most perfect family photo you ever saw” (remember that poor girl that ended up shopping Nordstrom, yeah, I confess)!  

As my boys splashed in the lake with their dress shirts on I sat on a nearby bench as the photographer captured joy.  JOY! It hit me.  My kids were having wet, messy, amazing fun.  Tim and I gave each other our secret “Oh screw it” look and all the stress, irritation and despair melted away right along with my mascara. We laughed.  Threw out an abundance of smiles and hugs, then we hustled our butts to Olive’s for pizza and wine in the comforts of air conditioning.  And the photos… they are perfect.  Perfectly that year.  

So, there you have it!  Our top three tips to not only surviving but LOVING this year’s family portrait session.  

Ready to get yours on the calendar?  

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