Family life on LA's Westside


Get the Most Out of Your Family Portrait: Top LA Photographer Stuart Townsley Offers Practical Advice



Family portraits can preserve cherished memories to last a lifetime.  Capture your family’s unique personality and enjoy your experience of a family photo session by choosing your photographer wisely and following a few tips from one of Los Angeles’ premier family photographers, Stuart Townsley (


Townsley has photographed celebrities and families from all walks of life, and no matter what the budget, Townsley advises some general guidelines that will enhance your experience and help you to avoid come common pitfalls.


Dress for Success


Clothes – Don’t dress the whole family alike, “Unless you are going for the 80s music video look,” jokes Townsley.  Wear comfortable clothes that fit properly.  Don’t put children in over-sized clothes bought for them to “grow into.” 


Women, beware of low necklines that might reveal too much, and make sure bra straps are anchored. 


Men, if you wear gym shoes, make sure they are clean and new looking.  Empty your pockets of keys and other items that will make clothing look lumpy.


Hats – Beware of covering too much of the face. Take shots both with and without the hat.


Easy on the Accessories


Props – Avoid scuffed or dirty toys, which will detract from a photo, or lollipops, popsicles or other foods and drinks that might stain a child’s mouth or clothes.  Be cautions about taking away props, such as pacifiers or rattles, which could result in un-photogenic tears or tantrums. 


Eye glasses – Wear anti-reflective lenses, and avoid transitional lenses that get darker in bright light.  Don’t hold glasses in your hands or behind your back in photos.


Jewelry – Unless you have a shiny Rolex you want to show off, remove your everyday watch.


Pets – Animals can add a lot of fun to a photo, but it will add a degree of difficulty to your session, so it’s best to plan on just a few poses with the pet.


Plan Ahead


Promptness – Don’t expect kids to sit still and wait around for long periods of time.  Your family should arrive ready to go.


 Be Yourself


Relax and enjoy the experience.  Interact with your family naturally.  The best shots are often those taken between poses when everyone forgets about the camera and just has fun.


Choose Your Photographer Wisely


Get referrals from family and friends who had a good experience with their photographer.  Check out the photographer’s website and reviews, such as on Yelp. 


Ask for pricing upfront.  A photographer who offers a lower sitting fee and the option to buy only the shots you like is preferable to a deal that locks you into buying a package sight unseen. 


Talk to the photographer by phone or in person before your session to get an idea of how the session will go.  A friendly and personable photographer will help everyone feel comfortable and relaxed so that they can enjoy the experience, and your family’s unique dynamics and personality will shine through.