The Three Ps of Family Portraits


The planning, scheduling, and creation of your portrait should be an enjoyable experience. To this end, Mark has classified the entire portrait process into three detailed, yet practical sessions, which we call the Three Ps of Family Portraits: PLANNING Session, PORTRAIT Session, and PREVIEW Session:

1. PLANNING Session

To serve you best, personal interaction is essential – it’s the lifeblood of our success. To that end, we provide a complimentary Planning consultation where you can meet with Mark and talk about the portrait you have in mind – it’s a time of discovery, discussion, and design.

Combining efforts inspires Mark. Talking with you and listening to your initial ideas gives Mark a clear vision about you and your portrait. Mark will also want to cover our design services, portrait commission and our exclusive line of portrait finishes.

Our studio is founded on the principle of meeting the unique lifestyles and needs of each family. Keeping with our practice of personalized service, we offer three distinctive Unlimited Portrait Sessions: Premium, Preferred and Petite. Whichever session you feel best reflects your individual needs, you can be confident Mark will give you his best in each and every portrait commission.

After an informal and informative talk, Mark will inquire which of our three portrait sessions best meets your particular needs. Your choice of portrait session and a corresponding commission retainer will be selected before the actual design phase. Therefore, should you desire the input from anyone else regarding the design of your portrait, we kindly ask that you bring them along.

Once Mark has been commissioned to create your portrait, he will segue into the actual planning-design phase. Besides discussing the feel and style of your portrait, Mark will also assist you with clothing selections and consider appropriate portrait backgrounds (either studio or on location).

Lastly, Mark will forward you our Family Portraits Preparation Guide, which will serve as your personal, at home handbook. If you already have clothing in mind, please bring them along. You’ll be one step ahead – quickly. Though Mark will discuss clothing selections in detail, in the meantime, please keep in mind that clothing serves as a “frame for the face”, and that rather than “matching,” our ultimate objective is “harmony” – both in style and color.

Please come as you like – the atmosphere is casual and relaxed.

2. PORTRAIT Session

In over 30 years of designing portraits, Mark has been fortunate to have been recognized throughout America and Europe for excellence in family portraits. More importantly, every single honor and award he has earned has come directly from portrait commissions. That is to say, we owe our success to our clients – for it all began with inquiries similar to yours and continues today because of those who honor us with their trust.

Mark’s approach to portraiture is straightforward and natural: he identifies needs, explores what’s possible, and then captures only those elements which are a reflection of the portrait you envision. Ultimately, Mark’s passion is to create portraits that are timeless, simple and meaningful.

Once you’ve met with Mark, and your preliminary design preparations have been made, Mark will help you reserve a convenient portrait date and time. Though both Studio and Location portrait sessions may be scheduled on most any day of the week, sessions on location are scheduled 1-2 hours before sunset, depending on the desired location.

Saturdays and Sundays are also available and at no additional charge. All we ask is that if you think you may need a weekend, please plan ahead. Weekends book far in advance and rarely do families reschedule.

No Compromises: so that every portrait creation is enveloped in that magical, setting light known as the “golden hour,” Mark creates only one outdoor portrait per late afternoon. And because of their more casual, unstructured feel, outdoor sessions tend to be faster paced than studio sessions and typically last 20-40 minutes. Regardless of whether you choose portraits on location or in-studio, our clients invariably tell us their sessions are surprisingly fun and entirely “painless.”

  • LANDSCAPE – Park and City Sessions

Because of Mark’s ideal Landscape and Cityscape locations, these sessions usually begin two hours prior to sunset, with optimal lighting lasting for as long as an hour. The long-lasting light quality lends itself for a more relaxed, stress-free session. Also, landscape locations are within seconds from parking. Thus, a quick change of clothing, feeding a hungry baby, or a having a place to hold a finicky pet is close at hand.

Landscape family portraits, because of the warm setting sun and 40-minute window, the soft, non-direct light, the close proximity to parking, and the unstructured style, is the ideal choice for younger families.

  • SEASCAPE – Beach Sessions

Frequently, when our clients arrive at the beach for their Seascape Session and witness other photographers either in the process of photographing families or already finished, they will panic, fearing they’ve missed their moment. However, please remind yourself to take notice the squinting eyes, harsh shadows, and shiny skin – you’ll then recall why we are waiting for the more appropriate, warm golden light…

For this reason, we will arrive only 45 minutes before sunset for our Seascape sessions. Even then, we cannot actually begin photographing until the shadows soften and elongate, and the light turns soft and golden. Frequently, this may allow us maybe 10 – 20 minutes of optimal illumination.

Because of the nature of tides, there are only so many “beach days” available each month. That is, we need to select only those days when low tides and a setting sun occur at similar times of the day. Generally speaking, this leaves us approximately only ten days a month.

Generally speaking, it should be obvious why beach portraits are better suited for older families, where our time together is invested into actual photographing and not cajoling a toddler out of a cranky mood… Once the sun has set, our lighting is gone.

  • STUDIO Sessions

Studio sessions, tending to be more structured with tighter tolerances, can take about an hour (depending on the number of poses). If wind, sand, tousled hair/clothing, and imperfections in general, aren’t your thing, we suggest keeping with the controlled setting of the studio.

The most significant contribution you can bring to your session is a happy heart and an expectant attitude. Mark’s approach to portraiture is

3. PREVIEW Session

The final phase is selecting your favorite expressions while viewing them on a monitor (since we are a digital portrait studio, paper proofs are now a part of the past). Here you will see every expression, as well as have the option of comparing as many as eight images/exposures at a time. Should you like, we can also zoom in on one person at a time or even a single facial feature. Exciting!

To determine appropriate portrait size, we then project your selections onto a screen while considering the “ABC’s of Portrait Selection (please see in details in Info.).

ABC’s of Family Portraits Selection

A. Face Width – A portrait derives its emotional impact, or connection with the heart, depending on the prominence of the face – not the dimension of the portrait. Face width is the most crucial element in selecting a portrait – not the overall size of your portrait, and certainly not the most impressive finish.

– Temple to temple, an appropriate face will measure between 4 and 6 inches. 

– For full length, family portraits, a narrower face width may be expected.

B. Quality & Style – Denotes quality of color and surface texture. We carry a wide array of portrait finishes from smooth and glossy, to soft, warm textures and Artist’s Canvas (w/wo oils).  We offer AutomatedCustom and Signature qualities.

All of our finishes are compelling, thereby making the selection largely a factor of personal preference and/or budget.

C. Artistry – Degree of retouching. When talking with others, we do not scrutinize every facial feature. This cannot be avoided, however, when viewing a portrait. Faces are best depicted as people remember them – not how they actually are if carefully examined in a magnified vanity mirror. Our objective, therefore, is to render every face in a natural, more “conversational” feel. Should you need our expertise, we can help you decide how much artwork is right for you.

Family Portraits Expression Exchanges

With the advent of digital photography also comes an exciting new option of selecting your favorite expressions for each person in your portrait. We then exchange their expression onto one composite, “base” image.

The process of  “swapping faces” is included with our Masterpiece retouching, or can be requested a la carte, with prices ranging on the degree of difficulty. Average a la carte price is $75.

Should expression exchanges be requested, we suggest returning to the studio after we have made the exchanges and view them on our monitor. Once size/finish is selected, the order process is concluded by placing a 50% deposit on the balance. By law, a signature of approval is required before photographs can be printed. A “model release” may also be signed but is NOT required. All deposits are nonrefundable and once we begin the creation of any portrait, understandably, there cannot be changes of any kind.

Family Portraits Approval

Because of the highly subjective nature of Artwork, once a portrait order has been placed and a retouching is completed, at your request, we can email you a Low-Resolution Approval File. If need be, we can then make the necessary changes to match your personal tastes. Don’t be shy to request a bit of tweaking…

Low-Resolution Approval Files are for evaluating completed artwork ONLY and are NOT intended for final color and detail evaluation. Should you desire to see your image in all of its glory before going to print, the best and only way to view it is on our monitor where we can enlarge each face to the size of your portrait. We are more than happy to help.

It may seem much to decide, but don’t fret, Mark will be there every step of the way.   

As always, should you have questions regarding any aspect of The Three Ps of Family Portraits, no concern is too small.

Orange County Photographer, Mark Jordan

Mark Jordan
Master Craftsman Photographer
American Society of Photographers
International Photography Hall of Fame & Museum
Orange County Photographer of the Year
3-Time Honoree -EPCOT’S World’s Greatest Photographers Exhibit

When looking for a professional Orange County Family Portraits photographer, or Orange County Headshots Photographer please call 949-888-8071 or complete our online request form.

The Three Ps of Family Portraits

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