May 13, 2010

Family Portraits

A Few Hints by Cindergirl Photography

1. Before picture day, help guide the family into coordinating their wardrobe by suggesting they pick two or three colors that coordinate, avoiding prints and logo's. It will be up to them to choose their attire but a casual reminder from you will help them stick to a color scheme and will enhance the over all set.
image by Amy Leavitt

2. Schedule the session when the children are at their happiest--usually after they've eaten and after nap time.

3. Schedule your shoot when the lighting is best. Lighting is very important for a great shoot, so let the family know that they may need to be flexible. In the middle of the day when the sun is high in the sky is not ideal, so generally we prefer to shoot outdoor photos either in the morning or just before dusk. The family may have to let go of routines/schedules just for the day to accommodate.

4. Family picture day can be stressful for everyone, but especially for Mom and Dad. Mom usually dreams of everyone and everything being perfect. But let's face it, no family is perfect, and so Mom can become frazzled even before the shoot begins. Dad on the other hand is usually less worried about the actual pictures but is so frustrated by all the fussing, that by the time he arrives at the shoot he's quite cranky and can't wait to just get it over with. Sound familiar??

I have found that addressing the stress at the beginning of the shoot, or making a light joke about it, can ease the tension quite a bit. If you make a point to lighten the mood, they will generally follow your lead. I usually start the shoot with a few candid or casual shots to loosen them up and get them into the mode of being photographed.

5. Even though they are family, sometimes you have to remind them to get close to each other. Having everyone in tight or touching one another can truly make a difference in the feel of the picture. When families are close to each other, touching an arm or tilting their head slightly toward each other, this projects a warmth and visually shows that they belong together. Try having them stand at an angle with shoulders overlapping. If Grandma and Grandpa are there, make sure you make space for them in a prominent spot.

6. As a general rule it's best to shoot the large family group first, especially if there are small children, due to attention spans. Next photograph the children as a group, and then individually (if individual shots are desired). Then photograph the teenageres, and last, the adults.

7. Check your shots for blinking, making sure that everyone looks awake and alert. You don't want anyone in a shot to look asleep or like they're on pain meds. One thing that can help is to have them all close their eyes, then count to three, then have them open their eyes at the same time. If everyone's eyes are refreshed, you should have a few seconds before anyone will have the need to blink again.

8. When counting up to a shot, I sometimes like to take the picture on "2" instead of "3". This helps eliminate forced smiles and helps the posing look a little more natural. Sometimes I count up to three and pretend like I've gotten stuck. {Example: "1-2-3...3...3..."} This usually makes them smile genuinely, avoiding a false look.

9. When I am done taking all the shots I want, I like to ask the parents or kids if they have any ideas in mind. I have gotten some really fun shots when they were being silly coming up with their very own poses.


10. Never underestimate the picture after the picture. I have found that once the last picture has been taken in a set, they loosen up and give you their "real" smile and you can capture a genuinely candid photo that is sure to please, if you're not in too big of a hurry to get to your next pose.

**Please feel free to share ideas that have worked for you!


Amy said...

Great tips Cindy! I like the counting thing. I will have to try that!

Brittany Busk said...

So glad you guys are doing this! What a great resource for other photographers!