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Now is the time of year when most families begin to plan their annual family photo session.  Whether for use as holiday cards, gifts for the family, or simply as an annual memento of your family’s ever constant evolution, the family portrait is an annual event that most of us partake in.  As a father (first) and as the owner of a chain of family photo studios (second), I find myself keenly aware of the hesitation many families with young children have about going in for professional family portraits.  Selecting the right photographer for your family’s session, and taking a handful of easy steps to prepare, can make your session a fun experience for everyone (including mom and dad), as well as provide you with some fabulous photos to last a lifetime (or at least till next year).

Here are five surefire ways to make the entire family photo experience a positive one:

1. Schedule the photo shoot when kids are at their happiest. Usually, at least for little ones, this means 5 to 6 p.m. is not the best time.  With most children, mornings are usually best.  You may not always be able to get the time you want, but if you have any control over timing, we recommend working your appointment around your children’s naptimes and daily routines.

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2. Choose a photographer that works for you.  When selecting a photographer, make sure to spend some time looking at their portfolio of work on their website or in their studio.  Get a feel for their style, the backdrops they use and settings they offer. Pay close attention to the way they have photographed children and families.  Just because a photographer did an amazing job photographing your wedding, does not mean they are good with kids.  In fact, most good kid’s photographers do nothing but photograph kids and families.  It’s that kind of specialty.

3.  Studio or Outdoor?  This is a question that comes up often, with many families intent on using the natural backdrop of fall to capture the season.  While outdoor photos can be beautiful, think about your children and their ages.  Most little ones (under the age of 3) are often better suited to the studio.  Outdoors you have a number of variables to deal with that you cannot control; weather, grass, bathroom proximity, other people and pets, any of which can easily distract or set-off an otherwise cooperative child.

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4.  What to wear.  The outfit that will make or break your family photo.

The actual truth is:  the most important thing is that your children are comfortable in their clothing. If they are uncomfortable or unhappy with the choices you have made (even if it’s the perfect outfit), they will tend to be less likely to cooperate.  When choosing clothing, my advice is to coordinate, but don’t match.  In more traditional photos, many families like to wear the same outfit for their portraits.  But in our experience, photos look better when everyone blends well, but not too well.

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5.  Personalize your Photos. 

These are YOUR images and they should speak volumes about you and your family.  Discuss with the photographer things your family enjoys doing together and bring “props” and accessories that will help compliment who you are.  If your family enjoys playing music together, bring your instruments to your session.  If your child enjoys playing with his legos, bring them along.  Basically, bring along items that will help represent who each individual is AND who your family is collectively.

Smile and have a great day!

-The PhotoOp Team

For all of our readers in or near NYC, Voices from the Ville is super excited to offer a 75% photo session discount at one of  PhotoOp’s studios in NYC…

Come into one of PhotoOp’s Manhattan studios for your family photos this season.  As a special offer to, “Voices from the Ville” readers near NYC, PhotoOp is offering a 75% discount on family photo sessions ($50 session fee, instead of $200), for the 1st 25 families to book a fall session.  To receive the discount, simply make an appointment at PhotoOp online (http://www.photoopnyc.com) and mention “Kidville 2013 Offer” in the notes, or call one of our studios, 212 362-1911 (West Side) or 212 988-8714 (East Side).  The offer is good for sessions which take place through 12/5/13, and is not valid for newborn photo sessions. This offer cannot be combined with other offers or promotions.  For weekend sessions, there is a $50 supplement.

Image Source:// All from PhotoOp

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Kidville is the #1 place for families with young children.