For most people, family portraits are among their most prized possessions. They express the personalities of the people in them, but they also capture a small piece of history. Someday the portrait you took with your spouse and kids might end up on the wall of one of your great-grandchildren. That’s a lot of pressure. Not to worry, I have some tips to help you take photos that will make you proud.
The first thing to consider is what kind of equipment will you be using? A phone snap is great for a candid picture of your kids at the park, but it won’t give you the same results as a professional quality DSLR. However, even the best camera body is limited by the quality of your lens. If you are taking your own photo, do some research and buy the best lens you can afford.
Assuming you are going to have someone else take your photos, consider whether you have a family member or friend who has enough skill to take the photos for you. Some kids are very shy around strangers and it can be hard to entice them to smile.
Start off your session by encouraging everyone to get a little silly. It’ll help shake off feelings of self consciousness and everyone will relax a little. I’ve received some great cards from families who actually used an outtake photo for their holiday cards.
Avoid wearing trendy clothes for your session. If you’ve ever seen any photos from the site Awkward Family Photos, you’ve probably noticed that a large number of them are perfectly nice pictures, but that the people are wearing ridiculous hair styles or clothing choices. Try to stick to something classic like jeans or khaki pants and a plain t-shirt or button up. It’ll keep your photos from looking dated in 20 years.
Experiment with Black and White
Try taking some of your photos with black and white film or desaturate them in Photoshop. It will give them a timeless quality. You can also experiment with letting certain areas of the original color show through. This is especially striking with close up photos of blue eyed children.
I’ve learned these lessons the hard way. I’m not going to tell you how high I used to wear my bangs in my teen years. Just don’t look on Awkward Family Photos.