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  • Writer's pictureBianca Jo

Anatomy of a Portrait Session

Updated: 7 days ago

You booked a portrait session and are a little nervous as to what to expect. I have a whole blog on How To Prepare For Your Family Portraits Session with tips that you can use to make the session go smoothly.

So how do I make a family session enjoyable for everyone?

I am excited to tell you and I hope it will ease your nerves on session day!

During the consultation, I ask a few questions. For example, how many people are coming, the ages of the kids, will there be any pets, the occasion of the session, and the location. This gives me a starting point to craft the session.

If it's a location that is the main focus, I know I already have a few location areas picked out for backdrops. If we use the beach as an example, most of my beach sessions are planned where we end at the beach for the last 30 to 40 minutes. Then the sun has time to set a little so as not to be too harsh. I start the beach session in an area that has some greenery and shade. Then I have at least two backdrop places on the beach that will go with the fast-changing light as the sun goes down.

For locations I haven't been to yet, I always schedule a time to go scout out the area. Since I have this planned out ahead of time, the session can go more smoothly for you and for me.

After the location is set, I like to focus on any special occasion. Are we having a maternity session, a senior graduate session, an adoption, or an engagement? Some families have a big family session that includes several occasions so I make sure to make time for getting those images.

Next, I focus on the ages of the kids that will be at the session. This gives me age-appropriate activities or prompts to help get great expressions and family interactions. For example, I like to get families to walk hand in hand together in different poses, one with everyone looking at me and some with them interacting with each other. To use this same action with families with really young kiddos, I like to get families walking and then get one with parents swinging one of the kids. This gets a great expression from the little one who may have been having a hard time, but now is laughing and having fun and the whole family is having fun together.

I like to ask my clients if there are any poses they want to have or ideas they are thinking of for their session so I can carve out a little time for those images as well.

My sessions usually include images of the whole family, just parents together, siblings together, all the boys, all the girls, each kid with each parent, and individuals.

When I start to talk about doing individual shots with parents, sometimes parents don't want any of themselves, however, I always try to point out why it would be a good idea. You are all dressed up and ready for portraits and you can use these images for other types of things, such as business cards, work IDs, etc. I may have a few that will still refuse those which is perfectly ok, but it's a good thing to think about for your session.

I always try to get my shot list in order so I can do a few in each location so there are options to choose from. Sometimes it doesn't always work so I prioritize the shot list by importance for the family with the occasion in mind.

When the session is finished, I will go over details that we have already discussed during the consultation and booking process once more so we are all on the same page as to what to expect after our session together. In my next blog post, I will talk more about the specifics of what to expect after your session is complete.

If you want to know more about family portraits and how to book your own, email me at or DM me on IG @biancajophotography.

Not ready to book just yet? Check out my website for more services I offer and images of other family portraits.

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