Family portrait sessions… people put them off and avoid them as if they were getting a flu shot. You know you should do them regularly and maybe even yearly but to wrangle a bunch of adults and kids together may seem daunting. I feel your pain! But it can be so worth it when the photo shoot is done and the parents take the kids for frosty chocolate milkshakes afterwards.
Sure some kids may never smile. Others may never calm down enough to simply smile for the camera. To be honest… family photography can be a lot of fun. Fart noises, dancing, jokes, and just being silly can get a lot of kids to smile for the camera. Even teenagers might light up enough to not be sullen and withdrawn.
I had the chance to photograph the Wright family this summer. We picked the Provo Castle because it was pretty central and easy for everyone to walk. Sometimes walking is an obstacle for some people so picking a location is very important. I have known the family most all my life because Kathy is my aunt and these are my cousins and their offspring! So I already knew the names of a number of the kids but even those that were new to me I was able to get most of them to smile. There was one who would burst out crying and one that simply refused to smile the whole time. Was I worried? No. That reflects the kid’s personality. When he or she is 16 years old mom and dad can poke fun at them and say they never smiled for anyone!
The other goal with family portraits is to keep things going. We position people best we can and get enough… going for perfect will take too long for kid’s attention spans. Are they alive and breathing? Try and get them to smile and take a bunch of photos and swap out eyes in case someone blinks. Someone always blinks. I’m pretty good at head swapping in Photoshop.
I like to start with the full group and then work my way down to family units and then, if people want, individual photos. We didn’t really do individuals this time. Kid’s patience runs thin after 10-15 minutes.
For family portraits I hope for partly cloudy or cloudy days usually. I bring my lighting so it looks studio quality on location. This way people look their best no matter where we shoot the photos.
Some families are a family unit of one. I’m in that boat! It is still good to have a family photo of the one person.
Each family is unique. If everyone is tall enough then they can all stand. However, if some a small and outnumber the parents you can get creative in the poses so everyone is close to everyone.
We finished up with the grandkids. We photographed just the kids and then the grandkids with grandma. And we can’t forget the goofy photo. Make a face, jump, carry someone like they’re dead… whatever gets a laugh.