How to Make the Most Out of Your Family Photo Time | North Carolina Family Photographer


Hey everyone! Happy Hump Day! Today I am going to be talking to you about making the most out of your family portrait time. My full portrait sessions come with 2 hours of shooting time. I offer this amount of time because I don’t want the session to be rushed. Rushed sessions = the chance of not getting the best images, SOOO…two hours it is! The two hour time frame is usually fine for my clients that won’t have any children joining them. But what about those who DO have children? And, most importantly, what if you have a child that really doesn’t like to sit still for pictures? Dum, du, DUUUUUUM!!!
Chronicles Photography | Dawn Michelle Downey | Raleigh, NC Family Photographer
I hear these concerns pretty often and here are my thoughts on it. When I photograph families, especially children, I prefer for them to be themselves. That’s right! Be yourself, little one. First thing’s first, your little one may not be comfortable around me because they don’t know me. Stranger, danger…right? So what I tend to do is encourage some play-time interaction, whether that be between siblings, mom and dad, or even me. This interaction can take a bit of time if they are particularly not in the mood for photos, but with some silly noises, a toy and some time, we can usually work it out.
Chronicles Photography | Dawn Michelle Downey | Raleigh, NC Family Photographer
Second, I do not urge little people to be still and smile. These are oxymoron’s for children and it goes against their very nature. Most young children abhor sitting still, so usually that request ends pretty badly; forced smiles, or the ultimate…a breakdown. No bueno! It’s pretty hard to recover from a breakdown and get great images. So if they want to run, I let them run for a bit. And we make a game out of it, usually with everyone ending up in the same spot, looking at the camera, smiling genuine smiles.
Chronicles Photography | Dawn Michelle Downey | Raleigh, NC Family Photographer
For example, the sweet little guy featured in these pictures was NOT feeling me when he and his family arrived to our shoot at Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn, NY.  And it was apparent from his cautious glances, first at me and then my camera, that was he in no mood for pictures. There was even a threat of tears! Not one to take no for an answer, I started doing the simplest thing…I played peek-a-boo with him. Then his mom and sister joined in on the fun and after a while he was lights, camera, action ready. We turned the session into playtime, which is a dream for any child. And after releasing a bit of energy, he couldn’t get enough of the camera. We were able to get shots that would last a lifetime. He even showed me his cars!
Chronicles Photography | Dawn Michelle Downey | Raleigh, NC Family Photographer
Family sessions don’t have to be buttoned up and stuffy, nor do you have to feel obligated to use the entire two hours for taking pictures. Not only do children (and some adults) need some time to warm up to the camera, but they also may need a moment to breath and come back with refreshed giggles and grins. Your images are an investment in capturing time. So allow everyone to relax a bit, be themselves and your pictures will be awesome!
For more information on North Carolina family portrait photographer Dawn Michelle Downey, please visit her website at



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