By Stacy Robinson

Gathering the family together to have a photo taken is a wonderful time honored tradition. Visions appear of a long hallway with a high ceiling lined with family portraits of centuries long ago. But actually getting everyone all together in one place at the same time and dressed appropriately is more difficult than it sounds. Here are some of the do’s and don’ts that will help make the experience go as smoothly as possible.

Don’t wait until the last minute to choose a photographer. The person behind the camera is very important to the process. A photographer is like a conductor of the orchestra, they make sure everyone does their part to create a work of art. If the photographer’s goals are not your goals the resulting photo will be a disappointment. Ask for recommendations from friends and family who have been happy with their photographer. Be sure to choose the photographer carefully.

Do schedule the time for your photo setting well in advance. Everyone has busy schedules and it may be difficult to find a time that works for everyone. Advance scheduling helps find a time when everyone is available. If there are infants or small kids involved be sure to consider their daily schedule. There are some times of the day that are better than other’s. Don’t schedule a setting for nap time or before they would normally eat. It’s one thing to deal with a grumpy adult, but another to deal with a cranky baby.

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Don’t let the photographer arraign the family members for the picture. The setting is the first time to see all the players. A snap decision must be made in how to arrange everyone. This may not turn out for the best. Prior to the sitting, plan out how you want the portrait to look. Arrange all the family members ahead of time to make the portrait balanced.

Do decide on a style of clothing to wear for the portrait. Any style is all right as long as it’s consistent with your goals. Make sure everyone involved knows if the dress code will be formal, or casual, or something in between. When everyone is dressed in the same style it makes a portrait worthy of the hallowed long halls. If one person doesn’t have the right clothes, let them know they need to go shopping. If finances are a problem, get together and see if one or two members of the family who are better off financially can help. Its better to spend the money buying clothes then having a total mismatch in the portrait.

Don’t wait until you are with the photographer to put on makeup or fix hair. These things should be done ahead of time to make sure everything turns out right. It is not good to have a bad hair day or an unsteady hand with the eyeliner on the day of the sitting.

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