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Geek Gifts: A Family Photo Session is a Gift That Keeps On Giving

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If you don't have a gifted shutterbug in the family to document birthdays, holidays or just-because gatherings, a family session with a pro photographer could be the perfect holiday gift to beg from Santa.

Holly Sisson is a Toronto-based photog with an inspiring portfolio of engaging family portraits. These are her family-session tips.

1) Are there traits that make a photographer good at family sessions?
Patience and experience with children are key. Kids sometimes act up, but it shouldn't be a problem -- the photographer should be able to reassure parents that it's okay, he or she understands. If a child is shy or just doesn't want to participate, don't force the issue. A photographer who understands kids will let the child approach in his or her own time.

2) What kind of questions should someone ask when looking for a photographer who is good with families?
I think the photographer's portfolio speaks for itself. You can tell if the children are comfortable in the images. You definitely want a photographer who asks questions about the kids. There should be a consultation before the shoot to discuss the children, their personalities, traits, and whether there's anything in particular that you think the photographer should know.

3) As the subjects of a session, how should a family prepare?
Think easy and fun. Wear clothing that you feel comfortable in. If the shoot is at your home, your child might like to change into a favourite outfit for individual shots. In terms of activities, think about things you normally do together so you can catch some of those moments during the shoot. You're aiming to capture a point of time in your family's life. That's the beauty of photographs, their ability to take you back to a charming memory.

4) About how much does a session cost?
I can't speak to what every photographer charges, but my rates range from $350 to $450 for a session. As for prints, my clients generally spend between $1500-2500. Definitely more then Wal-mart! But it's custom photography, unique to each client.

If you're now so inspired that you've decided you must have family prints to send out for the holidays, book now. Otherwise, start dropping hints or making real nice with Santa and his elves (it's a great group gift).

You can reach Holly Sisson at