For a photographer, skills in family portraits are are essential and are usually the bread and butter for up and coming photographers. Looking at the history of photography, one of the first popular uses the camera was not for abstract art, or photographing the family pet, but for photographing people and their families.
Family Portrait Do’s:
1. Do squish groups together- When families are physically close, it emits a warmth and visually shows what families should be like…close.
2. Do coordinate clothing- Ultimately it is up to them and their families style to choose what they wear but simply reminding them to possibly overlap in a color scheme, avoid extreme colors, prints and logos on their clothing can make a big difference.
3. Do check the screen for blinking- Shooting and shooting is OK for one or two people, but in a larger group it can be hit and miss and you may miss that one photo where everyone has their eyes open.
4. Do try to be funny & get some genuine smiles- A few cheesy jokes work surprisingly well to break the tension.
5. Do try & blur the background- Choose the largest aperture setting you can, while still keeping everyone sharp.
Family Portrait Don’ts:
1. Don’t forget to check all your basic camera settings before clicking away- It would be sad to get to the end of a great session and realize you didn’t change the low quality settings from the last time you used your camera shooting Garbage Pal Kids you planned on selling on Ebay
2. Don’t let your subjects tilt their heads into each other- Subjects tend to think they will fit into the picture better if they tilt and lower their heads. Funny thing is, I’ve even caught myself doing this when I was being photographed. Watch for it and avoid it.
3. Don’t sound insecure- Don’t say things like “This isn’t working.” Rephrase it into a positive, “Great, lets try a few more positions.” The more you tell them the pictures are looking great the better looking the pictures will get.
4. Don’t let Mom run the show- If you are sensing a strong arm from Mother, make sure to get the squeaky clean formals done right off the bat. They are easy and traditional. After that let mom know that you’ve got it covered and now you want to have fun with the kids.
5. Don’t be afraid to let Mom, Dad, & the kids come up with ideas and posing- They may have seen fun family photos of their friends and want do do some in a similar fashion. Take their suggestions without letting them think you have none of your own and work them in. Often they will turn out great and they’ll feel like they had a little more to do with the pictures than just a pretty face.
I think family portraits are awesome! It is a way to bring everyone together and create a stillshot of that moment. Some families even bring their pets along for the shot because they too are part of the family. When you get a family together taking photographs, their true personalities tend to come out. Capturing those moments are special. Even if the kids are wrestling, Mom and Dad are laughing, or Grandma is giving kisses to her poodle “Fifi”, those are the photographs that people love the most. When those special moments are captured, the family is happy, which makes you a happy photographer.