I am an amateur photographer, but I have taken family photos for many of my friends. I didn’t even think about all of the elements that go into a great portrait until I had to put a photo shoot together by myself.
There are a lot of amateur photographers who have decided to start a business offering very affordable packages for families. Most choose a public location and deliver your photos either on a CD or flash drive. While the options are plentiful, the quality of the photos tends to be all over the place. Here are five tips that will help you ensure family portraits that you love.
1. Choose your photographer carefully. Price is not always an indication of talent for photographers. There are some photographers that take beautiful pictures that are extremely affordable, while some charge professional prices for very amateur pictures. Check out their website or Facebook page and look through some of their past work. Also, consider what style they shoot in. Some photographers shoot very traditional poses, some are lifestyle photographers and capture candid shots, some capture incredible landscapes behind their subject. Choose a photographer with a style you like, and with a portfolio that looks worthy of framing.
2. Consider the location and time of day. The best time to capture outdoor pictures is shortly after sunrise, or shortly before sunset. If you have a photo shoot mid-day on a very sunny afternoon you risk pictures with harsh, unflattering lighting. If you are having you photos taken in a public place, consider what days and times might be busy. Its really difficult to have a well-composed, natural portrait when you constantly have people walking in and out of the frame.
3. Choose your outfits. Your outfits definitely don’t have to match, but they should be coordinating. Patterns and prints are generally distracting and should be avoided. Keep in mind that dark colors are slimming, and light or bright colors will make the object stand out and look bigger. Avoid neon and really bright colors because they do not translate well to the final print.
4. Don’t print your photos at a big box store. There is a huge difference in print quality between printing at a big box store and a professional lab. The color can be off, and the overall quality can be dramatically different. One of my favorite options is Mpix , which is the consumer arm of a professional lab.
5. Don’t be overly critical. Its important to remember why you are having family pictures taken. Its not so your family can look like you were torn out of the pages of a fashion magazine, its to document the love your family shares. If you look a little heavier than you expected, or one of your kids is making a goofy face, don’t dismiss the picture. Its not about vanity, its about memories.