It's that time of year again! Time for families to get their family portraits done, print them on fancy cards and ship them out to loved ones all over the world... Whenever I get called on to do a family portrait there's lots in me that gets excited, but over the years I've learned that preparing for a family shoot is just as important on the photographer's end as it is on our partners & clients. That being said, I've come up with a couple of things I always keep in mind when I prepare for a family portrait session... So here it is... my first ever post on things to think about if you're planning on shooting a family photo session (aimed at families with younger kids).
1. Plan your session around your child's "happy hour"
The window of opportunity for shooting a family session is so small. Think about it... not only do you have to shoot at a time where the lighting is favorable, but you also have to shoot at the time your kids are at their best (energy-wise and attention-wise).
2. Nail the poses first then cut em' loose!
As soon as I get to wherever it is that I shoot, I always jump straight into the family poses. Especially if the kids in the family are particularly younger. A typical photo shoot usually is me shooting the family in various poses for 30-35 minutes and then cutting them loose afterwards for some fun candid shots.
**No one was hurt in the photo above**
3. When you start losing attention, give simple directions
If I haven't lost you yet... thanks for sticking around. It's easy for kids to start veering off from the camera and to their credit... it's hard to stay posed and smiling for a camera even as an adult! The moment I start to feel like i'm losing my photo subjects, I'll give small and simple directions like, "tell your brother a joke", or "kiss your siblings head", one of my favorite go-tos to get them to look at my camera (or at least in the right direction) is... "is there something growing on my head?" < That's not a direction, but hey...
4. Pick a place where you can be you...
When thinking about where to shoot your family photos find a place that you'd feel comfortable being in. If this sounds obvious and super simple... good! I'm not reaching for anything dramatically profound. I usually find that this comes down to 3 general locales (here in California) - 1. Some place city-ish; 2. Some place nature-ish; or 3. The beach (nature, but sans the trees). As a dad-tographer, I always think of a place that I can go that not only feels comfy, but a place that I know my kids will enjoy (as a reward to play at) once we're done with the session. **Special note - the tracks pictured above are not used and not connected to any used line. I don't support photographing on live tracks or tracks that are even connected to live tracks.**
5. Enjoy and live in the moment!
Hope this helps or brings some useful info for those of you (like me) who try to shoot their own family photos... But if you'd like some help... remember to give us a try!