7 Must-Do's to assure a successful family portrait session

Have you ever wanted a beautiful portrait of your family but then immediately think of everthing that would have to happen in order to get said portrait. You’d have to find outfits for your children. You’d have to actually get your children to wear those outfits. You’d have to get your husband involve/excited about having a portrait session. Then you’d have to get your kids ready for the session without having them kill each other or ruin their good moods so they’ll actually smile for the photographer. And then, you’d have to put on your own fake smile because, good Lord, is it really that hard to just get your family to smile just once for the camera?!?

Sound familiar?

Yea, I get it. I have three kids of my own and a not so excited about pictures husband too.

But! I am here to tell you that it can be done. And here’s how.

With my help! Follow these simple 7 steps and I promise you, your portrait session will be a dream compared to the nightmare that you think it will be.

Family session on the beach in blue and tan

1. Outfit choices really do matter.

Not only will I help you with outfits, and I don’t mean buying a brand new outfit for everyone, but help you find pieces that are in your wardrobe right now. Take some time way before your session for you to look through your closet and find similar colors. When you schedule your session, I’ll also send you a Style Guide to help you look around your home and decide what colors are more prevalent. You can also lay out your outfits together, take a quick picture, and send it to me. Above all, make sure you are comfortable with your clothes. If you love the way you look and feel, you’ll love your portraits!

Occoquan Family session in blue and orange on bridge

2. Get your kids involved and excited.

I know with my own kids, that if I get them involved in picking out their outfits, they’ll be more apt to want to wear what they pick out. You want their personalities to shine and the best way to do that is through their outfits. And not to mention, they need to be comfortable in their clothes too. The last thing you need is someone complaining about how their pants fit on the day of the session. Give them 2 or three choices that you are happy with also! That way it’s a win-win situation.

Occoquan Fall Family session in grey and blue

3. Talk to your photographer!

After having three kids of my own, I’m super self-conscious of my tummy area and let’s not get started about my double chin. So I would want my photographer to tell me how to pose so I can look my best in the portraits. That’s my job too! If you have areas of our body that you’re not too comfortable with, let me know and I can better prepare for your session. You can also let me know what type of pictures you’d prefer to see in your gallery. Most of the times, I like to capture the candid pictures of everyone loving or having fun, but I know most moms, myself included, love to see the perfect picture where everyone is smiling at the camera. If I know this ahead of time, I can make sure to capture it the day of the session.

Mother and daughters in green at Lake Ridge Golf

4. Get rested.

The day before your session, you want to make sure that you get plenty of rest. Put the kids to bed early and do yourself a favor and put yourself to bed a couple hours early too. Drinking water also does amazing things to your skin! Did you know you should drink any where from 9-13 cups per day depending on your age, sex, and activity level? That’s a lot of water! All I’m saying is Happy Kids = Happy Mom. Happy mom = great photos!

Family of 3 in purple and blues in Woodbridge park

5. Let me guide you.

There are two types of parents: those who say nothing while watching from afar and those that stand about 3 feet away from me while trying to get their kids to smile or laugh. I know those active parents have the best of intentions, but most of the times what happens is your kiddos are more focused on you than they are of looking at the camera. The biggest tip I can give you, is let me guide you or ask for your help. And if I do need your help with getting your kiddo to smile, stand directly behind me. That way if your kiddo is looking at you, she’s kind of looking in my general direction as well. But I promise, I won’t steer you wrong when capturing photos of your kiddos!

Mom and two kids laughing together in red and blue

6. Full bellies = happy families

Make sure to schedule your session AFTER you have food. Because if there’s one thing you don’t want to have happen is for your kiddo to get Hangry (that’s Hungry Angry). And bring snacks if you need to and a water bottle especially during the hotter months.

And for those of you that promise ice cream, or chocolate, or lollipops after the session - I’m right there with you! I know as a photographer and a mom, bribery is a must to get my kids to do what I want them to sometimes.

Three brothers in blue and grey at Battlefield Manassas

7. Have fun!

I want to capture your family’s personalities and the only way to do that is to have fun during the process. There WILL be tickle time, there will be swinging for the younger kids, there will be jumping, and there WILL be laughter. When we get so caught up in making sure we capture the perfect picture of everyone smiling at the camera, we’re not really showing our true selves.

Show me who your family truly is and I’ll make sure to capture it for you to remember for years to come!

Family swinging daughter at Leesylvania State Park

Are you ready to learn more or experience a family session?

Contact me today and let’s get planning your family portrait session!

Best of 2017: Newborns

Although it didn't seem as though I was busy in 2017, it definitely kept me on my toes.  Of the 43 sessions that I had the pleasure of photographing, 10 of them were newborn babies (that's 4 more compared to 2016!).  Generally, newborns are photographed between 5-12 days new, but I will always make time for newborns!  One of the newborns of 2017 was actually almost 4 weeks old before I met him.  The only difference between him and other fresh newbies is I just needed to make sure he was nice and warm and snuggled up tight.  But even if he was awake, as long as he was happy I just kept clicking my camera.


This little guy was a Christmas present for mom and dad.  I met him on the second day of 2017 and he was such a sweetheart!  He had smiles for the camera almost every 5 minutes!

newborn baby boy with stuffed candy cane in Woodbridge, VA studio with Jessica LS Photography

I was stunned with how flexible and bendy this little one was for his session.  Can you just picture him all curled up inside mom??  Mom even brought a little hat with his name on it for the session.

newborn baby boy in brown flokati rug and beige wrap in Woodbridge, VA studio

I just loved the color scheme for this little guys session. Mom showed me his nursery and it was an arrow and teepee theme and these colors matched perfectly.  Being one of the bigger newborns from 2017, he was still very curly when snuggling up with mom.

newborn baby boy with gray and teal themed studio session with Jessica LS Photography in Woodbridge, VA

Dad was able to make it home from overseas just in time to see this baby girl!  Big sister was so good and so gentle while holding her, I wanted to keep both of them in studio all day long!

newborn baby girl in wooden bucket and big sister in Woodbridge, VA studio

This little baby girl was extra special to me because I was able to fly down to Texas to meet her and see a long time friend at the same time!  Her bedroom by the window was the perfect spot for her session and she could have slept all day long in there!  We were even able to take her outside in a basket until a beautiful tree!  I'm so thankful for being able to travel and capture these for mom and dad!

newborn baby girl in lace and flower wreath in natural light Texas home

A newborn photographer's dream: a baby on the beach!  This mom had a dream of her baby in a canoe by the water and with lots of driftwood and we made that dream come true!  Leesylvania State Park was the perfect setting for this beautiful baby girl!

newborn baby girl on beach in sailboat prop in Leesylvania State Park

Pretty in peach and pink, this baby girl loved to cuddle and snuggle.  Mom and dad loved the colors and couldn't believe how well she slept for me considering she had been up all night the day before.  A nice warm spot and wrapped up cozy does it every time.

newborn baby girl in peach and pink in Woodbridge, VA studio

At almost 10 pounds when I met him, mom loved the neutral colors we picked out for his session. We were even able to capture him and his 3 big sisters together in studio as well.  It was amazing to see how big he grew in only 2 weeks at his reveal session.

3 week old baby newborn boy in beige and tan in Woodbridge, VA studio

Although I loved every single one of the newborns I met in 2017, this baby girl was the most special.  A rainbow baby, meaning mom had suffered miscarriages before finally delivering this miracle. And she slept like a dream for me.  I was able to show mom and dad a few tricks of wrapping to try at night time.

rainbow baby newborn girl in Woodbridge, VA studio with Jessica LS Photography

How precious is this little guy??  Meeting mom and dad just a week before he was born for their maternity session, Dad was so amazed at all the little positions I was able to move him into especially this little pose.  And when he smiled for the camera at the same time as dad?  Well, let's just say this is his favorite portrait.

newborn baby boy in blue and grey with dad in Woodbridge, VA studio

I am so blessed to have met all these little babies in 2017.  I can't wait to meet more in 2018!  As a matter of fact, I have a photography goal of capturing 20 newborn babies for 2018. If you or someone you know is expecting in 2018, it would such an honor to photograph your family's new addition!  Read more about my newborn sessions HERE to see if I'd be a good fit for you and your family!  I'd love to chat with you!

Christmas Tree Mini Sessions 2017

magenta and blue Christmas tree mini session with Jessica LS Photography

This year, I was so super excited to have found the perfect spot for our Christmas mini sessions.  Located just 30 minutes from Woodbridge, VA in Nokesville, VA is a little farm called Evergreen Acres.  Known for only selling what they grow and being the only organic farm in Prince William County, they have the most beautiful Christmas trees I've ever seen.

Christmas tree themed mini session with Jessica LS Photography

Starting in June, the owner, Jim Gehlsen, actually trims every single tree to make them look like the ideal Christmas tree.  A perfect triangle!

Goofy brothers at Christmas tree mini session

Candy canes, plaid blankets, red lantern, and a tree farm pillow were the finishing touches to start this year off right.  

Tickle time at this year's Christmas tree mini session with Jessica LS Photography

And of course: tickle time!

Christmas session with Jessica LS Photography at Evergreen Acres

The families this year were on point with their outfits.  Red and black plaid, burgundy and blue, and my personal favorite: pink and blue!  But no matter the outfit, the one thing was the same on everyone.  Smiles!

Family Christmas tree mini session with Jessica LS Photography

I loved this location so much, I even brought my own family out to capture in the trees (with a little help from a photographer friend!).  

Thank you to all the families that came out to Evergreen Acres for 2017's Christmas tree mini sessions with Jessica LS Photography!  I can't wait to do them again next year!