What to Expect

For a family portrait session, we will spend about an hour to an hour and a half together. I will start with whatever pose is most important to you (usually this is an all-family shot). We will then do smaller groups, like one parent with the child(ren), just children, just parents, and each child alone. By now everyone is relaxed, and I will take some “playing” shots. I will bring everyone back together at the end, just to make sure we get lots of variety with the all-family shot. I tend to keep things relaxed and playful. If your children are active, I make it work! I am not judging anyone’s behavior or parenting skills. Trust me! I have my own kids, and I know family photos can be high stress. You never have to worry about what’s going through my head. I let active kids take the lead, and I always get great photographs.

Carey Palenchar photographing boy in the shade of a tree at Mellon Park in Pittsburgh, PA

Carey photographing a kiddo in the shade of a tree at Mellon Park

What to Wear

Wear something you would feel comfortable sitting and squatting in, which might mean avoiding short skirts. Avoid busy patterns, large logos, or neon colors. Avoid too many patterns within your family. Pick a few different colors and select outfits within your color palate. Not a bad idea to wear reasonable shoes, as we might be walking through grass. 

Photo of family posing in front of a tree at Mellon Park

Family-of-three with a backdrop of autumn colors at Mellon Park

When to Shoot

We want to pick a time that strikes a balance between having good sunlight and ensuring that kiddos are fed and well rested. Generally, the 2 hours before sunset is best. I usually try to find the latest possible time that would be comfortable for your family. Other options would include early mornings and or anytime at a location with guaranteed shade. 

Brother and twin sisters bathed in golden sunlight at Highland Park

Brother and twin sisters bathed in golden sunlight at Highland Park

Where to Shoot

Some of my favorite places to photograph include Mellon Park and The Frick Pittsburgh. A lot of families chose to have their family portrait session in their own front or back yard or inside their home. I am happy to make other suggestions based on your location and the feel you’d like your photos to have. 

Check out some of my recent work to get a feel for some different Pittsburgh locations.

Next Steps

After about a week, you will receive an email with a link to your online gallery. You will have the ability to download your entire gallery of high-resolution images, in both color and black-and-white. 

Boy on steps in front of doorway at The Frick Pittsburgh - in color
Boy on steps in front of doorway at The Frick Pittsburgh - in black and white


The fee for a family portrait session includes my time and talent and all of the high-resolution retouched digital images. No need to make hard decisions about which images to select. You, my friend, get them all. I do not include any prints, but I have a print store built into my website which makes ordering professional-quality prints really easy. I also offer custom designed albums, if you are interested in displaying your images in a long-lasting, compact way.


What if it rains?

We pick a new date! I usually only schedule one session per week, so I will have lots of flexibility to reschedule, and I will make rescheduling your shoot a priority.

What should I bring?

Feel free to bring a favorite toy, book, or stuffed animal. If you want some fun action shots, you could bring a ball, kite, or bubbles. I often have families sitting on a blanket in the grass. I carry a navy blue blanket with me we can use, but if you would like a different blanket in the photos, feel free to bring one. None of these things are required, but just ideas to personalize your session.