What I am about to say might shock you. Are you sitting down? Good! One of my least favorite types of shoots is....the family portrait. Why, you ask? Don't I love families? (yes!!), shouldn't everyone have a family portrait? (yes!!) Then why don't I LOVE them? Here's why:
Because family portraits are usually a little stressful for the clients and not that fun. Even if you've got a great photographer, your family members' anticipation of going to go get photographed is usually met with excitement, nervousness, and might require bribbing, and lots of cajoling (coaxing), and deal making. Okay. Now that you've got dad dressed and in the car, let's talk about the kids! Wasn't that funny? You probably assumed I was talking about...oh, well let's get back to my point. The point is, that there's a lot of what I call "competing energy" coming from various members of the family, and thinking of your own family, I bet you can already predict who is going to feel which way.
My job is to do my best to get your attention, smile at you (it's simple but I think lots of photographers might forget to do this), and be really encouraging. This helps calm everyones energy and get them trusting me. Oh, and my job is also to get a good shot, too!
One of the biggest things you can do to make a great LOOKING portrait is DRESS in the SAME color, with no stripes or patterns to distract the eye! I read somewhere that the idea in wearing the same color, is that it makes you appear as if you BELONG together, and though it takes some preparation and maybe a stop at the store, it IS the single most impactful factor that you have 100% control over.
Now, on to the little things:
Sometimes I wish all of the family members could meet me first and I could show them some of the neat places and portraits I can get of them. Most of the time I only talk with Mom, who books the appointment. Getting a family portrait done CAN be fun. I wish I had a magic wand that could take all of the worry from family portrait subjects so that they felt comfortable enough to goof off in some of the shots. The best I can do is let most families know that it's OKAY to laugh and mess around! No, you are not wasting my time! No, you are not being impolite! What you ARE doing by going ahead and laughing at whoever is the HAM in the family, is relaxing and letting your guard down, showing me what your family is REALLY like (that's my favorite part!), and capturing some fun moments, too.
Here is a great example of a family taking great shots and having fun doing it! We did this shoot in the studio last week:
Now, if ANY of you have a porch as great as that, I think you are pretty much required to own a big beautiful porch shot. I drive by their house all the time, so one of the requirements for their family shoot was that we go back and grab the porch shot that I've been imagining there when I drive by....
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