Centuries before photography, artists made family portraits. They’re still seen on ancient Egyptian tombs, walls of Roman villas and in European royal palaces. For similar reasons, the purpose of your family portrait today is to preserve the precious moments forever. I worked in corporate publicity for years and had to take a lot of staged portraits of executives and groups of people for media use. I always ended up incorporating some of the things I learned taking photographs professionally into my own family portraits. Consider these unusual ideas on how to create visual lifetime memories:
Anticipate The Experience. Gather family members in advance to plan the schedule. Discuss many thematic options, including clothing, grooming, actions and locations. Agree on a convenient time and place for the portrait project.
Set The Mood. To put everyone at ease as they arrive, enjoy a lunch or party at the location before shooting. It’ll help encourage comfort and fun, enhancing cooperation, happy moods and laughter throughout the experience.
Establish The Theme. With today’s advanced technology, there are endless choices. For example, family groupings could be sitting, standing or strolling in a natural setting. Additionally, digital editing can provide natural-looking backgrounds of city, mountain, ocean, forest, outer space or other ways to enhance uniqueness. If you gather older members of your extended family, portrait opportunities to include them may never happen again. Take advantage of every creative idea. For example, shoot separate scenes featuring the youngest children with oldest family members. Another idea is if family pets are there. Gather children around them for lovable portraits.
Another unusual thematic approach is with costumes. For example, if family members are in the military, scouting, music, theater, karate or other sports, a group picture of them in unique clothing can make lasting memories.
Use technology. The science of digital photography has advanced so much, even cameras costing a few hundred dollars can take remarkable, high resolution images. Accessories like a tripod and external flash can help create a real professional look. Also using a camera with interchangeable lenses, such as wide angle and telephoto, can also help achieve professional results. I use a Sony Alpha NEX-5 which can use different lenses and the mirror-less technology gets me great shots. It has a 15.1 MP sensor so the photos I take can be enlarged and printed at even poster size. I also have a 20mm wide angle lens which gives some very unique angles, separating the images from standard snapshots.
Break Away From Traditional. The talented amateur may also innovate by creating a more impromptu family portrait. Instead of creating a formal portrait sitting, why not schedule a family activity, but be prepared with equipment to capture a high quality image. If the family enjoys a specific sport or recreational activity, incorporate it into the portrait. A family that loves sailing might take photos on their boat and a family that loves the ocean might try to get everyone on surfboards.
More from this contributor:
Designer Shopping for Less in Milan, Italy
5 Historic Restaurants in Hollywood
Tips for Shooting Great Halloween Photos and Videos