A visit to a portrait studio can be fun and exciting for any family. Your loved ones look their best while posing for pictures. At the end of the day, you go home with a photo album filled with happy memories. To get the most out of your studio visit, however, it’s smart to plan ahead.
1. Get to know the studio first.
The first portrait studio you find may or may not be the right one for your family. Search a local business directory or a website like yelp.com for other options. Ask other parents or friends. Some studios may specialize in a specific area (e.g. weddings). Make sure the studio handles “family portraits.” You want one where the photographers routinely take family pictures, as those are the ones who are most likely to get along with children.
Find out what the company’s policies are on cancellations, rescheduling, session time and extra shots. You should find much of the information on their website if they have one. While you are there, check out their portfolio, products and special offers. Make sure their rates are within your budget. If possible, find a photographer or studio that gives a generous amount of time per customer/family per session.
Visit the studio first if you can. Get a feel for the place, the staff and the studio itself. See if the customers there look happy. Read customer feedback on review sites to learn what other people think of the company.
2. Know your session time.
How long will the photo session be? Your family will probably not enjoy it if you feel rushed. Find out the average length of a session and how (in)flexible they are with it. Ask if the photographer will do re-takes or extra shots upon request. Be clear about your expectations and desires. This is why it is important to get to know your studio first. If it is clear you will be rushed, it may be better to move on and look elsewhere.
Later in your session, if the photographer seems to be rushing, pause and say what you need to. A good photographer will listen. Just don’t be unreasonable. Check how everyone looks and make adjustments as needed before the next shot. When it is time to look at the pictures, examine them closely. Try not to hurry since this is your chance to discuss any concerns with the photographer or staff member.
3. Book an appointment.
Even if the portrait studio you choose accepts walk-in customers, it’s a good idea to set an appointment. That will spare you from longer waiting periods if the studio happens to be busy. Waiting can be a real headache if you have little kids in tow. And in case you need to cancel your appointment, make sure you call the studio ahead of time. For example, a studio may require customers to cancel at least 24 hours before the appointment time.
4. Prepare for your session.
If you are not sure what to do, ask the studio for advice on preparing for your portrait session. You may be advised to wear clothes with harmonious, solid colors (if posing as a family or a group) and avoid attire with large, distracting patterns or designs. If you need a haircut, you might want to get it a couple of weeks before the session to allow your hair to grow back a little.
Plan ahead what kind of poses you want. If there’s something in particular that you like, tell the photographer on the day of the session.
5. Make sure everyone is in a good mood.
Set aside a special day for your photo shoot. Do not choose a busy work day where you may be too stressed or tired. You want everyone to be in a relaxed, cheerful mood–especially children. If you expect wait times at the studio, bring entertainment material. Plan to keep your family amused and happy the whole time. Also, do not take the experience too seriously. Make it a fun and memorable family day.
6. Be patient with the little ones.
Young children can be difficult subjects. They may refuse to smile or sit still long enough for a good shot. Be patient and encouraging with your kids. Bring a favorite stuffed animal or toy for each child as a comfort. This is where you want a photographer who knows how to work with little people. They know how to make them laugh and feel comfortable in front of the camera. But if a child is too upset or uncooperative, you may need to come back another time. Discuss it with the staff.
7. Check the finished product.
When you pick up your pictures, look them over. Make sure everything is as you expected. If you notice any problems, like a blemish you want retouched, let the staff know. They may quickly edit and reprint it for you. Take note of any passwords, codes or special instructions they give you. For example, some studios let you access your pictures online via their website. You would need login credentials for that. Keep any coupons or membership cards you receive for future use.
Even in these days of camera-enabled mobile devices, nothing beats the quality of professional photographs. Why waste the opportunity to create such beautiful, tangible memories for your family? Make the most of your portrait studio session!