Social media is filled with all kinds of memes and links to compilations of some of the most awkward family portraits ever created. Most of us have that one photo from the past that just keeps resurfacing, no matter how many times we try to hide it. Family portraits are supposed to be beautiful, cherished memories that we hold onto for the rest of our lives. So how do you make sure you get a good one?
Shop around: Quality is more than just the finished product.
Yes, you want to find a photographer with impeccable camera skills. Ask to see a prospective hire’s sessions, as well as checking out some sessions. Look for consistency as well as artistry. In addition to that, you want to make sure that your family and the photographer click. Some personalities clash and that could potentially reflect in the finished product. More money doesn’t always mean better quality. On the other hand, go too cheap and you could very well get what you paid for.
Relax: Act natural with each other and in your environment.
Kids especially need to establish a relationship with a new face. Michelle Chernock, of Michelle Chernock Photography in Toledo, Ohio, says, “I try to sit down and play with the kids before I ever raise my camera. Then I give them a chance to play a little in front of the camera and show them a few of the images on the back of the camera. That tends to get them excited about making more images. From there I move into the more formal posed images (being sure to be playful with them so we get real smiles) with the promise of getting really crazy at the end. Once we’ve got the money shots, I’ll let the kids suggest some poses. They like to feel they are involved.”
I always like to engage the children in conversation, especially asking them to tell me about their favorite things, to capture a true expression of joy. Some photographers’ best work comes from those candid shots.
Move about: Think outside the traditional studio.
Chelse, of EIEIO Photography in Honeoye Falls, New York, has a variety of locations in her portraits. Families pose inside and out, whether it is in the studio, outside among trees and flowers, in a family’s home, or even at their favorite hangout.
Strike a pose: Work that triangle.
Chernock recommends creating a triangle when posing a group of people, to “create interest within the composition.” Within that triangle formation, you can create a variety of poses to keep the shots interesting. She also recommends having people stand closer together than they are used to being, for more cohesion.
Coordinate: A perfect match isn’t necessary
Gone are the days of a perfectly matched wardrobe. No need to dress up in identical uniforms. Each person is unique, yet you are bound together by the common thread of your family ties. Reflect that by choosing coordinating colors and patterns.
At the end of the day, try to remember to have fun. Whether you are hiring a professional to take your family portraits, or attempting to do them on your own, these five tips will help to create a lasting memory to cherish forever.