Tips For Taking Better Holiday Portraits

This week it’s Thanksgiving here in America, which means it’s the start of the holiday season. Family and friends will be together more, meaning more opportunity for potential portrait sittings.

The larger the group, the more opportunity you have to sell. Yet if you have a small home studio, or no studio at all, where are you going to photograph everyone? While it may not be a problem if you live in a nice warm climate, what do you do when the wind is howling and the snow is falling?

Find A Perfect Location

Don’t scout the perfect location on your own; talk with the family as well. Maybe they are members of a local country club that would be more than willing to let you use their area for a portrait. If they are planning on going out to eat after the portrait, maybe you can work with a local hotel, and use their surrounding grounds. Parks also can be very attractive in both winter and summer – how about an ice skating pond in the distance? Use your imagination, and try something new. Don’t be afraid to ask – you never know where you can end up for a perfect portrait experience.

Find A Backup Plan

Now that you have ideas, choose one more. You never know when you’ll wake up to a foot of snow, or temperatures so cold no one wants to be outside. If you can quickly move from one location to another, and have your ideas in mind, it will mean less frustration on your part. And will make your portrait run smooth no matter what happens.

Understand the Family Dynamics

New moms may not want a small infant outside in the cold, even if another member of the family set up an outside portrait. Chat with the person booking the appointment about the individual groups, ages, and personalities. People will usually tell you many things, such as the family who is always late, or the family that never listens to directions and shows up wearing whatever they want. If you know this ahead of time, you can take special precautions up front. A quick phone call confirmation may keep everyone on track.

Break Down The Groups

Before the portrait day, get a list of families and relationships. It’ll be easier the day of the portrait if you know the groups, and can easily call them and place them together. You’ll want to take the obvious family groupings:

  • Entire family
  • Grandma and Grandpa
  • Son, wife and kids
  • Daughter, husband and kids

Then move to the less obvious, yet sure sellers.

  • Grandparents and grandkids
  • Sons and daughters
  • Grandparents and sons and daughters
  • Generational images

Ask for special requests as well. The more you take, the more you can build in opportunity for sales.

Clothing Consult

Chances are you’ll be working with one or two family members for the set up of the portrait. While it’s easy to rely on them, to do so may mean your information only gets so far. Get family names and addresses at the time of booking, and send out a quick letter explaining clothing choices. Specifically tell them if they should be in blue jeans, or their Holiday best. Go over colors, patterns, and styles, and why its important to keep everyone looking the same in a portrait.

1 thought on “Tips For Taking Better Holiday Portraits”

  1. I find the clothing consult to be really important when taking pictures of my family. If left to their own devices everyone would end up wearing outfits that clash with one another.


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