There are times in life when Photography gets very complex and really enjoyable. Family portrait photography is one of those kind of photography that can be really interesting for both sides of the party (parents and photographers). Dealing with adults is one thing, but dealing with kids is different experience.
Family photography is something that always needs to be done with care and joy. This type of photography requires a great amount of planning and patience as well. We as Photographers, are the responsible of taking the parents experience to the most enjoyable state ever, and I’m going to talk about some things we all can do as Photographers to make the magic happen when it comes to family portrait photography.
Get to know every member of the family
Every family is a little wolf pack that has their own culture. It’s amazing to see how families can be different from each to each household. Inside these little clans, everybody is different too; just like individuals in a team.
To get very good shots that reflect each and one of the family members personality, an excellent strategy is to get to know them. Since you have little time for getting to know the people, you have to always be friendly and efficient when doing this. Remember to not be intrusive, just be natural and friendly. Care about people, and you'll have a great social experience that will give you deep and fulfilling results, that will end up in great portraits that you and your clients will love.
Get into their interests
By taking the interests of the family members, you can craft a very great session that will reflect both, the Family, and the personality of each of the members of the family. Get to know about their hobbies, their jobs, their sports affinities, their favorite movies, their favorite bands, etc.
Let the parents be involved when children will be on the frame
All parents have big expectations of pictures they want to get of their children. Let them be involved, but not just in a nosey way; invite them to create the concepts behind the photo. You can't imagine the joy this involvement creates on parents.
Tell parents about not planning things in tight schedules
One awful mistake family heads tend to make, is to think that photo sessions can happen in a matter of two hours tops. And they rush things up. Please, let them know that you need at least four hours or something like that to do a family portrait shoot that will end up in stunning pictures.
Tell them to be relaxed and to not rush things. Let them know that they need to give that day the respect it deserves; and everything will work perfectly.
Be involved with the reference seeking
Great photo sessions don't happen because of serendipitous airs. Great photo sessions happen because of good planning. Don't leave things that can be resolved without a camera to improvisation. For each and every family portrait, push yourself forward, and always create something different; and you will achieve this by creating a good concept prior the shoot.
If your clients have an idea in mind, seek for reference together, so you can create a concept that will be more solid due to teamwork.
Scout for locations that are meaningful
Let's be honest here, flat pictures with a white wall inside a studio are just kitsch nowadays. All families happen to have favorite places where meaningful events happened to them. Also there are plenty of outdoorsy places that can be perfect suited for great backgrounds. Even intimate family portraits (which are great) can be done at the very own family’s household.
Home ends up to be another family member, many of the greatest and saddest moments in a family’s life happen in the very own house. So consider about creating family portraits with candid approach at households.
This is like dealing with a little movie when it comes to outfits. If the concept is complex and it will be enhanced with particular clothing, mind them. If not, comfortable and good looking clothes will do the job.
Particular ways of clothing, are part of one's personality, so the clothing style needs to be respected at all times. The same happens with hair and makeup. If the shoot is going to be outdoorsy, try to choose hours with lovely sun light, not harsh midday.
Tell your clients about good feeding
Photo sessions are very tiring for both the photographer and the photographed people. We already know this, but the other people may not, so advise them to keep themselves well fed prior the photo shoot.
Alright, let's talk about a difficult thing to deal with, toddler situations. Kids are wonderful, but they can be extremely non cooperative, so the best way of doing the job, is with a candid approach. Get them to do something they love and enjoy, and also candid will work with the family shoots.
Parents will want posed portraits, and kids will help, you just need to be patient, and work quickly, because kids get grumpy when posing too much.
Show your portfolio
Nothing speaks best than a good, solid and consistent portfolio. Showcase yours to your future clients, and if you can do it with a physical booklet, the experience of reviewing it will be very pleasing for them.
Creating a good portfolio is very hard, not because of the layout or something that has to do with editorial cosmetics. But because the content you need to include, must be the best of you. For creating a good portfolio that will make your leads convert into clients, you need to emotionally detach from many pictures, and just include the best of the best. Ask other photographers to help you with the curating process. A good portfolio of 25 to 35 will do the job.
Please, do not forget about the furry (or feathery, or scaly) ones. Involve pets in the frame, they are just as important as any other family member, because they are indeed part of the family. Many clients want to do this, and they will tell you, but be on the know, and bring it up first than them, you’ll see the excitement glowing in their faces when talking about the shoot in the first meet up.
So, as you can see, there are many things that can be resolved prior the photo shoot itself, and all these can happen in just one time efficient face to face meeting. Remember to always care for the people you are doing the job for, these are timeless memories that will ever last in an evolving time of immediacy and easy forgettable pictures of social media.
Ruby Hotelling Photography / Flat Rock, Michigan / Family Photographer
By: Federico Alegría +50374683470
Article licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. 2010 - 2016.
Ruby Hotelling is a portrait photographer in Flat Rock Michigan. Serving Southeast Michigan, Downriver Michigan, Wayne county.