Mention family photography and most families will cringe in anticipation of bored and uncooperative family members. Of forced smiles and silly antics from children. They will wonder how on earth they will ever manage to drag their teenagers along to even be in the photographs. Thankfully, if you have a photographer who is easy-going, who has an instinctive feel for the family interactions that are part of every family gathering, and who knows how to relate to people of all ages, you are well on the way to achieving some stunning family portraits to display with pride in your home.
Having a large family myself, and having been a teacher for many years, has held me in great stead to work with families and be able to capture natural and happy photos. Creativity with locations and with studio family portraiture is the polish that makes your professional portraits stand out.
Treats in the studio for the littlies, jokes and questions that appeal to their ages, relaxed time frames for the shoot, and breaks for a bit of down time, can all help to make the session great fun. One thing that should always be kept in mind, is that people do not have to be smiling all the time either. Some of the best portraits are when people are pensive. Their faces can reveal so much about their personalities, and isn’t that what we are trying to document?
I like to start photographing the younger members of the family first-individually. They will be still in the excitement of the moment and not “over it”. Then combinations of siblings, and gradually working towards everyone in the family. Occasionally I will notice one of the family members doing their own thing and will quickly try to capture some very natural, unposed shots. Which leads to another rather odd thing about family photography. We want the photographs to look natural and not too posed, but in actual fact, a lot of time and effort needs to go into just where each family member should be placed, what colours work best together, how they are facing the camera and camera angles. Isn’t this why you have hired a professional photographer?
Sometimes people book a shoot and they don’t really consider what everyone is going to wear until just the day before, I try to avoid that happening by sending out a family tip sheet as well as a sheet with suggestions for colour schemes for the clothing. It is simply amazing what a difference that this attention to detail makes to the final photographs.