Style ~ How to Get the Most Out of Your Portrait Session

by Debra Wallace

My daughter was born with enough personality for three people.

Melody circa 2008 (age 2)
She's feisty, free spirited, and creative - and pretty much has been straight out of the gate.  If an image portrays her as calm and princess-like it doesn't fit.  It's like a physical therapist going to a chiropractor.

Your dog, your house, your outfit - all of these things have personality.  Generally the more we age, the more comfortable we are with who we are.  We exchange experimentation for knowledge, which is a whole lot more efficient and definitely less stressful.

Visiting Kerry Stitch at Indigo Tones was a huge step for me in this process.  After a lifetime of buying clothes I never wore, her statement of, "You like to dress like everyone else" was strangely liberating. Now I am at peace with my relationship with Eddie Bauer.  I admire skirts, dresses and lace from afar.

Your family portraits follow this same principle.  Your images should represent your family's personality.

I have a huge weakness for shirtless men holding naked babies.  My husband Jason has been an awesome sport about it, but since he almost never takes his shirt off ever (even though he totally could with his half a percent of body fat!!!), those images just look weird to me.

This image is weird.  He even wears shirts swimming - inside.
The same is true of a portrait session.  You can absolutely love someone else's session but if it doesn't fit your family, the images will feel out of place.

There are essentially three different styles of family portraits:

1. Formal.  Rebecca packed my kitchen for me when we moved.  I offered to do portraits for her as a thank you gift.  She loves, loves, loves formal images which are generally not my thing, but I couldn't turn down an opportunity to hear a heartwarming rendition of "Mama has a big ole' butt, oh yeah."

2. Natural - this is about 90% of what I end up doing.  It's my personal favorite.

I overuse this image, I know.  I think it might just be my favorite family image of all time ever.

Here are some more relaxed, natural portrait sessions to explore:
Rainy Day Portraits ~ Black Creek Park
Lisa & Brad ~ Tinker Nature Park
Liz & Bernie ~ Brighton

3. Sessions that incorporate an activity.  I don't see a ton of this, but I think it's awesome to explore some fun activities during a session.  If you're an off the beaten path type of person, check out this article:

6 Creative Ideas for an Awesome Family Photo Shoot

Remember that it's okay to appreciate someone else's spunk without feeling like it needs to be yours.  At the same time, if you're a spunky type, be sure to let loose!

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