By Tammy Porter on | No Comments
Family portrait sessions can be very nerve-wracking for photographers - especially during the busy Fall season (Fall mini-sessions, anyone?). They can be A LOT of fun if you have a good plan and a nightmare if you don't. But despite the stress (or potential stress), I still love photographing families and do it quite often.
If you are new to family portrait photography, I have put together several tips that will help guide you through your family photo sessions successfully.
In addition, I have also included a short video on editing family photos in Lightroom using presets from the Pretty Film Bohemian Collection! You won't want to miss this one!
Your clients will likely be looking for guidance from you long before their actual photoshoot. This is the perfect opportunity to help them choose what to wear. This is important because the outfit choice can often make or break the photo shoot. Some clients will be 100% on board with your ideas, while others will have ideas of their own.
Part of being confident is being sure to speak up about the things you have experience with or knowledge about that will affect the photoshoot. Some things you might want to speak up about include lighting, locations, and choosing flattering colors that don’t contribute to color cast issues on their skin.
I always let clients know that bright pink and neon colors often cast color onto the skin and can ruin a photo. I also let them know that large logos will keep the images from being timeless. It is also a good idea to know if your shots will be standing or sitting, so you can advise the ladies about skirt or dress length.
So often, clients are concerned about their children's behavior. It is a good idea to let clients know NOT to “prep” their kids by telling them they have to look at the camera and smile. Sometimes kids show up to the session upset and already dreading looking at you. I personally like the candid type shots the best, and sometimes that requires your subjects to not look at the camera!
Be sure to let parents know that their kids behavior is fine. Although sometimes the kids are out of control, as long as you are getting the shots you need, reassure mom and dad that they don’t need to reprimand the kids. When I run into these situations, I am constantly telling the parents “they are fine” to put them at ease!
Once the session starts I often tell families to just walk over to a spot to “get ready”. I will mention that I am adjusting the camera and getting the light right. Many times though, I will actually be taking photos. The more unaware of the camera the families are, the more relaxed they will be.
Next, I begin giving the family a series of instructions and am sure to tell them they do NOT have to look at me! I have noticed if I give the family a short list of directions, they tend to relax somewhere in the middle of it. I say things like “walk over to that tree, turn around, pick up the kids, swing them around twice, and then walk back towards me.
When I start taking overhead shots of the family sitting on the ground, I use directions like “make a dog pile, tickle mommy, everyone sneeze” or other silly things to make the kids laugh. I often tell mom and dad to look at one another then look at the kids. Then I will shout look at me, and they all will, because I have not been telling them to say cheese for an hour!
Bonus Tip! When I shoot families, I try not to worry about limbs and such being cut off when we are doing the sitting together or shots from above. As long as everyone in the family is in the photo, a foot or arm out of the frame is ok!
Also, I always make sure to take some family photos from further away as well so the family has both to choose from. I also don’t automatically delete out of focus shots when shooting the up close “piled up” shots, and honestly sometimes those end up being favorites.
Sometimes you will have to let go of the strict ideas about how the family photo shoot should go and just photograph what you are presented with.
Having a plan is a great way to help you meet your photography client's expectations, but sometimes it just won’t work out quite like you planned.
Don’t get overwhelmed. Roll with the punches and keep shooting - you will be glad you did. Is the child picking their nose or lifting up his/her clothes to pee in a bush? Is Dad falling out of the tree? These are some of the unexpected shots that you and your family clients will enjoy and laugh about for years to come!
Do you have any questions about our Family Photo Session Tips or any tips of your own that you would like to share? Just leave us a comment below - we would LOVE to hear from you! And PLEASE SHARE this post using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!
Tammy is a child photographer based in the desert of Arizona. A mother of two, a wife, and a secret lover of interior design. She spends her days juggling a hair salon, a budding children's jewelry line, and her camera. Photography is the driving force behind her relentless need to create beautiful things. You can follow her on Facebook.