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How Much Time Do We Need for our Family Shoot?



If you’re thinking you can have me run over to your home and complete your portrait session quick-like during your lunch break, think again.

(I mean, if you’re looking for something that speedy, just take a selfie.)

Don’t worry. Your portrait session won’t take all day, either, or even all afternoon. How long it takes depends on a variety of factors, but here are the time frames I use in all of my family sessions.

Families: 90-120 Minutes

In family photos, we do individual shots and various groupings: mom and dad; dad and the kids; mom and one kid (then the other kid); just the kids; and so on. For this reason, I give it 90 minutes for a family of four. If your family is larger, we’ll plan for up to 2 hours.

With families, we usually do two outfit changes simply for the sake of time. If everyone is old enough to dress themselves, we might be able to stretch it to three.

Children: 60-90 Minutes

One child takes less time than two. If you have three or more children and love them all equally, it could take up to two hours.

With kids, we can do two or three outfit changes. A simple change of clothes can create a whole new attitude in your kids. Even if you want some business casual shots of your children, choose a second outfit that is more their style to really let their personalities shine.

Couples: 60-90 Minutes

How could a couple’s portrait session take as long as a family session?  Most couples sessions are for an engagement or anniversary photo session.  We like to have at least two (2) outfit changes — a more formal one to start — more classic if you will.  Then a change into the casual fun outfit that really shows who you are!

We also like to shoot in a couple of locations that reflect your style and interests.

Business Head Shots: 30 – 45 Minutes

 The longer time frame here really depends upon location and outfit changes. I usually recommend two changes.  We shoot both at your office/business location and, time permitting, an outdoor one as well.  For some locations, we might have to watch out for other people (accidentally) photo-bombing you, or we may have to adjust for certain weather conditions.

How to Keep It Rollin’

I can take a lot of photos in an hour or two, and you’ll have plenty to choose from. Still, you’ll want to do a little planning to make sure you don’t waste any extra time during the shoot while changing outfits, for example. Here are a few tips for making fashion-runway-worthy quick changes and more:

  • Keep it simple.The most important thing is that you’re wearing something you love and feel good in. That said, if you have two outfits you love and one of them takes 20 minutes to put on because it has tiny buttons from the middle of your calf up to your chin, choose the one that only takes five minutes. (Where did you get something with that many buttons, anyway? Asking for a friend.)
  • Wear the most complicated outfit first. Okay, the many-buttoned outfit is a must. Wear it to the shoot and change into your simpler outfit.
  • Do a practice run at home. This is a nice idea if you have kids; plus, it extends the photo-shoot excitement.
  • Pack the night before. You might have clothes that would wrinkle if they’re not pressed and carefully transported. By packing the night before, you make sure you don’t forget any of those details (or wake up only to realize the shirt your son was going to wear is covered in mud or spaghetti sauce from the day before). Bring whatever you use to get ready at home (make-up, hair care, deodorant, even a toothbrush) in case you want to retouch anything half-way through the session.
  • Bring toys and snacks for your kids.(And yourself.) Just in case. This is a no-judgment zone when it comes to cookie bribes. I get it. I’m pretty motivated by cookies, too.

These one or two hours are well-spent. Sessions are fun and relaxed, and you’ll end up with a lot of photos showcasing your favourite groupings and poses. Make a fun half-day of it: then go out for lunch with the people you love most.


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