[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]Today’s feature is from .

Deanna says:

“This family was such a great crew to work with! They drove to our little mountain town for a weekend getaway and some family photos on our property.

Casey, the mother, is a fantastic photographer whom I met online a while back when she was a student in one of my online workshops. It was an honor to finally meet her in person and be able to photograph her and her family.”

Deanna’s Photography Tip:

I strive for my sessions to be extremely laid back, and I find the key in that is communication. From the first email to the first time we meet I try to have an upbeat, positive energy that I think rubs off on them.

After all, I want my clients to be excited and relaxed – though it can be difficult to get them to relax at first. I find that if we start with some small talk before jumping into the shooting it helps take the edge off.

For these guys we even took a small walk before we started, which helped everyone feel more comfortable and at ease.

I also find that when a family has small children, the young ones tend to be a bit timid around my camera (or myself). To help remedy this, I ask them to sit on a blanket for the first series of images.

This allows me to be on their level with them, and helps them get comfortable and acclimated with me. I mainly focus on the kids while doing this and as they warm up to me I start to slowly back away to focus on the entire family.

If this doesn’t work, then I just go with the flow. Their older boy was full of energy and the baby needed nursing as soon as we sat down, so I took the 3-year-old to look for bugs in the grass and I was able to snap a few portraits of him while we explored.

While this was going on I was also able to turn around and snap a photo of Casey nursing her youngest, which ended up being my favorite from the entire session.

When I let my guard down and just let things flow naturally is when the magic seems to happen. What the families do on their own is often better than anything I could dream up and prepare for.

I am not a portrait photographer, but I do think portraits are important to have each year to mark growth. I do the portraits during the first half of the session so that the rest of the session can be completely laid back and focused on their connections. If another opportunity for a portrait presents itself then I take it, but I don’t force it.

I also make sure the family knows ahead of time that while they will receive a portrait, their session is based on connection. Being up front and honest like this with what you produce and what the end product will be is key to finding your ideal clients.

At the end of each and every session I ask to photograph the mom and dad alone because in my experience, the last time most of them had been photographed as a couple vs. mom and dad was on their wedding day.

At the end of the session I am left with a series of images to present the family that capture their personalities and honest, raw moments that celebrate their bond and love.


Deanna used a Nikon D700 with a 35mm 1.4 lens to capture these images.

Deanna McCasland is a Hardy County, WV Portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Client Direction and Working With Children.

Need help composing the perfect image on-the-go? Let’s face it, these kinds of sessions are pretty face-paced.

You won’t have an opportunity to pose your subjects as you want, so you’ll have to be picking up on the natural composition of your surroundings pretty quick. To help better train your eye to see the perfectly-composed piece, check out this awesome guide all about photography composition!



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Published by Beth Teutschmann

A big fan of food, chaos, and all things fun, Beth is the owner of Starboard Editing, LLC - a photography post-production company focusing on anything from editing to blogging and SEO. When she's required to leave the confines of her dark room, she enjoys martial arts, eating, tattoos, cooking, ice cream, sillyness, eating, and traveling. You should probably say hi.

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1 Comment

  1. Great idea. I love the thought of only doing one set of actual portraits. I do agree that it’s important to get an image of everyone by themselves (even mom and dad).

    We still struggle quite a bit with families. Trying to get laid-back, natural looking portraits just doesn’t seem to work. Just letting the family play and do their thing is definitely something we’ll be trying.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

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