Ok, you are looking to have some great family portraits taken...now what? I'd like to share a bit of my process so potential family clients can learn what to expect and how I achieve the images you see in my portfolio.
1. Location location location. Having a great location is a great start! If there is beautiful scenery and some landmark objects even better. Benches, cool rocks to sit on, lamp posts to lean against, trees, pond/lake/stream...all good stuff. I like when a location has more than one key area for us to take the photos. If within 50-100 yards you have a pond, a bench, cool lamp posts and a big rock to play on...you can mix it up a bit as some of the set ups you try may not work as well as others so you will have options to choose from.
2. Be comfortable...don't look stiff. When you can hang out by sitting on a bench, rock, lean on trees, etc. your body language will relax and instantly you will look better because you feel better.
3. Wear comfortable, simple clothes. Unless you need very formal attire, wear comfortable clothing that allows you all to just be a family that is hanging out together. Do not wear heavy patterns and no logos like Nike, etc. Unless there is a theme that specifically calls for wearing your favorite sports team or some other reason you need to wear these types of clothes, don't do it. It should be all about your family and focus on your emotions of happiness together, not some brand that doesn't add anything to the end result of a great photograph.
4. I like to set the scene, not pose. I find that getting folks into the basic positioning is a good thing but then I usually say, "just be a family". There are a few things that I will correct like if someone has their hand over their knee, flat to camera I have them pull it back because if flat to camera that hand looks much larger and is a distraction. The other fun way to get natural emotions is to let people interact with each other and not always be looking at the camera. We capture little moments that are so genuine. Don't get me wrong, some fairly straight-forward portraits are always a good thing but I love delivering a diverse batch of images that tell a story of "A Day in The Park" or "Fun in Leaves and Trees" etc. which you will find in my portfolio of family portraits.
5. Kids are the boss. With younger kids, I may ask them what they would like to do pose wise...maybe they want to stand on a big rock or sit on a swing...well, ok, then the family can gather around this child who now feels empowered and hey, it keeps them in a good mood and might be the best idea yet!
6. Act like you like each other! ;) If I find a family is placing themselves a bit too far apart I always say, "Closer...act like you like each other!" ;) I say it with a smile and a wink. They always loosen up and may even hug, snuggle or at least they aren't 2 feet apart any more.
7. Take a walk. As I mentioned above in #1 the location hopefully offers up a few different areas to shoot the portraits in so in addition to utilizing those natural props I always like to have smaller families take a stroll and just laugh, hold hands, let kids play a bit, maybe swing the kids up in the air, put kids on dad's shoulders for a piggy back ride or whatever comes to mind.
8. Personality is king. I pride myself on having a friendly and engaging personality and this bodes well for folks to feel comfortable in front of my camera. Once you are comfortable, all of your fun, loving, silly or whatever feelings you have come streaming through my lens. If kids are crying, I can even talk like Donald Duck to make them laugh and boom, we are back in action capturing great family photos for you.
I have many other little tips and trick I keep in my back pocket in order to help guide folks but the ones listed above are a great starting point to understanding how it is to work with me. Some photos here from a recent session in Wash Park Denver. They are repeat clients...I photographed when their boy was 6 months, 1 year and now 2! Super fun! Love these guys!