Family portraits can be an exciting but stressful time for many families. Though it may seem like your work is done once you’ve scheduled your portrait sitting and gathered everyone together, there is still much that can be done to make your portrait experience run more smoothly.
Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your family portraits:
It is important to decide in advance what you want from your portrait session. Take some time to browse sample family portraits online. Most chain studios will have examples of their work, and nearly all independent photographers will have a portfolio. Finding a studio that matches your family’s style is important.
Consider also the type of portraits you want. Take a look at examples of formal, informal, and casual family portraits, and decide which bests suits your needs and your family’s own style. You can browse for poses that you especially like and bring pictures in for your photographer as well. This will ensure that you get exactly what you are looking for.
Before making your appointment, make sure to talk to the photographers at the studio. Ask as many questions as you can. Find out what types of backgrounds they offer, how many outfit changes they allow, and how many frames they will be taking. This will allow you to plan your session accordingly. When scheduling at a chain studio, make sure to request a photographer who is especially good with families (or small children, if they will be in the portraits). It is not rude to do this, as most photography studios have photographers with diverse talents and some are simply better at different types of photographs.
Before the day of the portraits, make sure that everyone is coordinated. Everyone should know what time the session is and what they should be wearing.
Coordinating your clothing is especially important. Using your knowledge of backgrounds, tailor your clothing colors and styles accordingly. Contrary to what you might believe, a clothing choice which is closest in color to the background works best. This is because the eye focuses on faces, not clothes.
Stylistically, choose clothing that works with your background as well. Darker background colors are usually used in more formal sittings, whereas lighter colors are more casual. Everyone should be dressed in a similar style. If most of the family show up in jeans and grandma is in a formal dress, this can cause problems.
Make an inventory of everything you may need for the time before and during your sitting. Common things such as combs, moist wipes, lint rollers, and lip gloss can make a world of difference after sitting in a studio waiting room for an extended period of time. You may also consider bringing toys if you have small children, as nothing ruins a family portrait faster than an angry youngster.
A change of clothes may be necessary if you are considering doing two outfits during your sitting. You might also consider a change of clothing for after the sitting (if, for example, it is very formal). If you have small children, you might want a backup shirt in case of spills.
Even if you have an appointment at a chain studio, be prepared to wait. If your sitting is during the busy holiday season you may have to wait as long as an hour past your appointment time. Bring along plenty of activities for children. Use this extra time to double check make-up, hair, and clothing and to talk with your family about poses and portrait packages.
Don’t get discouraged while waiting. An unhappy family makes for lousy family portraits. Instead enjoy the opportunity to spend time with your family.
Talk to Your Photographer
In order to get the most from your family portraits, you must have open communication. Tell your photographer exactly what you want (here’s where research pays off) and listen to his or her suggestions. Keep an open mind, but don’t let the photographer make all the decisions. Yes, that is the job, but you also want a personalized experience, not the same poses as every other family.
A good photographer will work with you to get the portraits that your family deserves.
With these tips your next family portrait sitting will be a memorable and lovely as the pictures that come from it.