Survive Your Family Portraits
Have you ever gone to have your family portraits taken? You plan, beg, plead and bribe everyone to cooperate. There may be drama on the way to the session, wardrobe glitches, traffic and all kinds of other things. As the image above shows, the actual session is not always as troublefree as we may want. As a portrait photographer for several years now, I have a few things to tell you so your session goes as well as at it can. Here is a guide to help you with family portraits you can download.
Family Portraits: Just One
I always tell parents with young kids, “If we can get just one”…that is a great success. When I say “just one”, I mean one of the entire family together. I have found the other shots, such as siblings, parents together, mom and one child, dad and two kids etc. seem never to be difficult to get. But the family photo of everyone can be comparable to finding the Holy Grail. It is super important to be flexible and not take things too seriously. Here are a few things I tell clients to help the experience be as fun as possible
Photoshop is your friend
In the industry, we have something we do in Photoshop called a head swap. This is when we take the head from one image and place it onto another one. You may notice your photographer taking a lot of shots while your kids are moving around or crying etc. Or you may notice her calling the name of just one person. The reason they do this is to try and get at least one good face of everyone. Then, if the photographer has to, they can head swap away to create that one good image. Head swaps are common. But they do require a high level of skill in Photoshop. So be sure to know that your photographer can successfully execute head swaps if they need to.
Smaller Groupings Can Be The Best
When shooting family sessions, think in terms of a collection of images. Of course, those one or two images of everyone together are important. But a house can be decorated with many other combinations of family portraits.
Location sessions are great for kids because then I can follow along after siblings or toddlers and catch them being themselves, natural. In my experience, parents always buy these images. I think it is because expressions are not forced or overly posed, and mom recognizes those little things she loves about her daughter or son.
Clothing can make your family portraits
Clothing is so important. You may be surprised to hear that it is not just because of how it looks on camera. Clothing is important because people feel differently depending on what they are wearing. As a professional portrait photographer, I have my opinions about what NOT to wear. But ultimately, it is about how my clients feel in their clothes that is more important.
Take some time and think about clothes. How can you be creative, look great, and make everyone feel their best? There is no one perfect answer, in my experience. I have had families decide to go the full-on formal route, renting tuxedos and gowns. And I have had families decide to wear swimwear. It is your family portraits that matter. So forget any rules, and try to go with what will show your family at their best. You may like to use a mood board to help you create your family look.