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What to Do if You’re Running Late for Your Photo Session

Oh no! You’re running late for that portrait session you’ve booked with your favorite photographer! The guilt and stress can be real, but let me reassure you: Despite your best efforts, sometimes things happen that are outside your control. Maybe it’s the Philadelphia traffic, maybe one of the kids had an epic meltdown on your way out the door, maybe you got held up by an accident or a train. But regardless of the reason, you’re probably panicking and wondering what to do once you’re in the car and the GPS says you’ll be arriving late for your family photos.

Here are some quick suggestions that can help if you find yourself in this sticky situation.

1. Send a message to your photographer.

You should have their phone number and email address, so you can get a hold of them right away with an accurate ETA. Ask if you’ll still have enough time for your session if you’re going to be more than a few minutes late. There may be different factors you’re not aware of that can play into this, such as the position and angle of the sun, or if your photographer has another family session or sessions after yours. Check in with your photographer (preferably by phone) right away, as a courtesy to them and so the two of you can decide if you still have time to go ahead.

2. Drive carefully.

If you get into an accident, you can forget that session all together, and of course your safety is the most important thing. Getting pulled over will also delay you further. That experience likely won’t set the best tone for your session anyway. So take your time and be sure you’re driving carefully even if you’re stressed about running late.

3. Don’t be too embarrassed.

If you’re someone who prides themselves on being punctual, you may feel mortified that your best-laid plans didn’t pan out for whatever reason. But just know that you’re not the first – and won’t be the last – client who comes into their session feeling a bit rushed and stressed. Your photographer has seen it all, and they aren’t taking it personally. You did your best to prepare ahead of time and be punctual, but something outside your control came up. It’s all right. Just keep your photographer apprised of what’s going on and don’t beat yourself up too much. 

4. Don’t let the kids know you’re stressed out.

Children feed off our energy and if they sense you’re a ball of anxiety, they are likely to respond with their own anxiety or bad behavior due to discomfort… and that’s not going to result in great photos once you do get to your session. Stay calm, keep everyone relaxed by turning on some soft music, and do your best to arrive in an unfrazzled state so you can immediately get to creating lovely and happy family portraits.

5. Know that your session may be a bit shorter than planned.

Obviously, your photographer will need to stay on track with their schedule and not inconvenience the rest of their clients for the day, so your session may be cut a bit short due to the later start time. But don’t worry – we’ll still be able to capture great images even in a shorter timeframe. This is one of the benefits of working with an experienced photographer!

6. Update your ETA with your photographer several times, if needed.

If you’re at the mercy of traffic, an accident, construction, or something else on the road that’s causing your delay, keep your photographer updated on your status. They can try to brainstorm ways to make your session time more efficient, so that once you arrive you can dive right into making memorable portraits. Your photographer will appreciate your courtesy in keeping them updated.

7. Once you arrive, try to forget about the stress of the trip and just enjoy the session.

Be present with your family, laugh, play, snuggle, and enjoy your time in front of the camera. This is how the best images are created! Once you’re in front of the camera, none of the earlier stress matters. So do your best to shake it off and have a memorable and fun experience with the people you love most!

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