How to Prepare for
Your Outdoor Family Portrait Session

What to Wear for Portraits and other Frequently Asked Questions

You likely have plenty of questions when planning a family portrait.
Knowing what to wear for your portrait is one of the questions on your mind.

What to Wear – Outdoor Portraits



What should we wear for photos?

This is probably the number one question we get asked! Outdoor portraits tend to be more casual than formal. For a pleasing family portrait, we encourage the family members to coordinate, but it is up to you if you want to wear matching colors. Often, families will wear a coordinating color palette combination, like blues & greens, or neutrals like khaki with a touch of color. Beach scenes work well with shades of blues & greens. While the classic ‘white shirt look’ is the easiest to match, many clients have found the white to be overly bright and can wash out their complexions. For the most part, solid colors work best, with fabrics that hang nicely whether you are standing or seated. Medium to darker colors contrast nicely to your skin tone in order to accentuate the faces in the portrait.

Even in summertime, generally speaking, for adults, we often find that long sleeved attire is best. This way, we focus on your faces (to highlight your expressions!) rather than on the exposed skin of your arms. For children, the reverse is true. We love seeing their full body expression from head to toe, and it’s fun to see the bare arms and bare feet.

Probably one of the best sources of classic clothing that never goes out of style is from Ralph Lauren. They even have clothing lines for babies and children! For young children (age 3 and under), I love the classic look of Janie & Jack.

Where will my session take place?

Location sessions may take place at your home, backyard, favorite place or at the beach. Winter Island in Salem is a favorite outdoor beach location, where we time the sessions around the tides and sunsets on specific dates for the ideal conditions (close to sunset, at mid to low tide). For outdoor locations that work all day long, we favor two wonderful public parks, (1) Forest River Park, off West Street in Salem, MA, and at (2) Endicott Park, off Forest Street in Danvers, MA. We also love Wingaersheek Beach, off Atlantic Street in Gloucester, MA, at the end of the day (after 5pm) when the sun is low and the beach-going crowds have left the area. To see samples of our favorite places, click here!

How long will you spend with us?

We allow 60 minutes for our location sessions, which is usually more than enough time. Depending on the age range of the family members (small children versus young adults), we can often get great results in less than the time allotted. Typically, if there are younger children being photographed, they often run out of steam long before the hour is up. We ask that you be on time and arrive no earlier than 10 minutes in advance of your session, as we often have a scheduled appointment just before or after your reserved time.

Should I tell my child to ‘say cheese’? 

The short answer is no. Quite honestly, the best and most natural smiles occur when they child is genuinely happy. The ‘cheese’ approach often results in forced smiles and does not always represent a child’s true joy. I find it works best to think about favorite songs or funny stories that can be shared, in order to naturally elicit the best expressions. When a child recalls a funny moment, they will naturally smile!

What will a session cost?

Your investment starts at $950 for a location session outdoors, which covers the session fee of $350 plus $600 advance towards your portrait order. Included in your initial investment is Bobbie’s time and talent during the session and a personalized follow up consultation to assist you in making your portrait order selections.

Do you charge more per family member?

No, the session fee is the same for a small or large family. In your portrait session, we look to capture a variety of combinations, including individual portraits and groups. We generally prefer not to mix two or more families together in a single session unless the primary goal is to capture one large group shot.

Do you photograph large family groups?

We can accommodate groups which include extended family members. During the warmer months, location sessions can be done outdoors and the size of the group can be larger. With any family group session, we strongly recommend that one family member act as the lead decision maker to attend the viewing & ordering session.

What about black & white?

Any of your portrait images may be prepared as a beautiful black & white portrait. Let us know in advance if you have a preference for black & white and we will prepare your images accordingly.

How far do you travel?

Locations up to 15 miles or 30 minutes from Salem or Lynn, MA are no additional charge. Locations beyond that will incur a travel surcharge which is evaluated on a case by case basis.

What happens if I need to reschedule my session?

We understand that personal emergencies, illness or inclement weather sometimes require sessions to be rescheduled. We kindly ask that you provide as much notice as possible in order to make that time slot available to other clients. Cancellations or postponements less than 48 hours prior to your session may result in a cancellation fee.

What if I wear eye glasses?

If you always wear glasses, then of course it is best to photograph you wearing glasses. Non-glare lenses are best suited for portraits. If you only occasionally wear glasses, it’s often preferable to go without so your eyes are best seen. And if the session is outdoors, it’s best to refrain from wearing transition lenses so that your eyes are visible in the portrait.

How many images will I see from my session?

While I may photograph dozens of captures in a given session, not all are keepers. I will capture as many images as necessary in order to present you with a strong body of images. Depending on the number of family members and/or group combinations in the session, we will present you with the best 30-40 images in order to simplify your selection process.

When will I get to see my photos from the session?

Approximately one week following your session, we invite you into the studio to review all of your images, assist you in making your selections and to place your order. With any family group session, we strongly recommend that one family member act as the lead decision maker to attend the viewing & ordering session in the studio for selecting the group shot, as we do not post the photographs on the web. If there are multiple families participating in the portrait session, we generally recommend that each family schedules their own private viewing to select the portraits of their own family. We are happy to accommodate you in the evening for these appointments.  In the case of out of town families, we are able to arrange a screen share appointment to accommodate a remote or ‘virtual’ meeting.

What should I expect to spend on my portraits?

It’s entirely up to you how much you decide to invest in from your session, choosing from our gift portraits, framed wall art pieces, gallery wraps or custom hardcover books & albums. We offer personal, gift & desk sized portraits which range from $65 to $125. Our signature hand-finished wall art pieces are from $450 all the way up to life-size. Most clients will typically invest $1200 or more on portraits from a location session. Drop us a note and we’re happy to send our complete catalog over to you!

Can you retouch our portrait and make us look better?

Yes, absolutely. Every portrait in your order will be individually enhanced for lovely skin tones. We will smoothen and soften any blemishes or facial lines, so not to worry!

What if I need to lose 10 pounds??

I get it! You want to look your very best. Trust me that I will make sure you look great. And honestly… if you follow our clothing suggestions and wear solid colors with long sleeves, I can make sure we see what we want to see and hide what we don’t. I truly want you to look your best, or you’re not going to want the portraits! And it’s my job to make you look great.

We’re so excited, may we take photos during the session?

Generally speaking, we prefer that you refrain from any picture-taking during your session…. after all, we take the time and care to set everything up for that perfect portrait! However, that being said, we understand that social media is a big part of our lives and if an opportunity were to arise where you were able to capture a fun behind-the-scenes shot, we are all for that. And if you do, we’d LOVE it if you tagged us in the post!