Family Photography can be one of the most challenging genres of photography. However, it is one of the most necessary types of photography. Families value it as much as wedding photography. Every Photographer should have the skills in their back pocket whether they plan on making it their specialty or not. Here are my tips on how to master beautiful Family Photos.
From location, lighting to uncooperative kids, Family photography can make or break you as a photographer. It can be Intensly challenging but also very rewarding. I have been photographing families for over 10 years and I have made my fair share of mistakes. Here are the things I found to make this a smoother process for everyone involved.
Please take time to talk to the person who hired you before hand. I have been doing a zoom call with the parents before the shoot. Finding out their expectations and personalities. There is nothing worse than going into a session unprepared. This is a good time to see if they wear glasses too which you will see why that is important here in a bit. Families always start off with the same question. "What do we wear?" I did a blog post on this in the past that I reference to families when they ask. It is also good to put together a pinterest board and provide them a link to it. Show examples of colors for the season and example outfits. My rule of thumb is pastels for spring and summer and jewel tones for fall and winter. Stay away from white and black. Colors pop! Stay away from busy and over the top patterns. Simple is better. It is that easy!
I can not stress this enough!!!! Lighting trumps everything else including Location. Really push your session to fall during the hour before sunset. Trust me it makes all the difference. Do not pick a grassy park or flat beach with no shade. On the other hand do not pick an area that is covered with trees. You will be battling hot spots on your clients skin and trust me it is a nightmare. I drive around my potential locations during golden hour before hand to see what lighting is like. Always find somewhere that has open shade. What I mean by this is look for an overhang or shaded area that light filters in. Place your subject under the shaded over hang facing the light source making sure you see the catch light in their eyes. I was on a huge back lighting phase for a while. Battling sun-flare is just an unnecessary headache. Unless you have an assistant to hold a giant reflector to light them from the front the photo will turn out too hazy and not crisp. This can be an artistic decision for a few photos but not for the whole shoot. If you have no choice but to backlight and you are seeing too much flare when you look through the lens do this trick. Raise your camera up. Get higher than your subject and shoot down at them under the flare minimizes.
You can not control if you will get a couple kids who just are not feeling it. Do yourself a favor and google games to play with kids during photo shoots. Try them out on your own kids, Nieces or nephews.... whomever! Not every game you try will be a success. Trust me!!!! For older kids put a couple jokes in your back pocket. Do the research before you arrive and always arrive before your clients!!!!
Getting the right combination of shots is the most important part of any family photo session no matter if it is a full session or mini session. Always start with a full family photo this is what they came to you for. I like to get one standing then one seated. Young children lose interest in the shoot after about 30 seconds lol. I would like to say I am joking but that has happened to me. After you get the full family shot go straight into siblings then individual of the youngest child. You should be able to knock these out in 10 min or so then the youngest child is done. After you have individuals of all the children, Have fun! This is a great time for lifestyle photos. Grab the family interacting and capture their love.
I hope these tips help you to master Family Photography. Please feel free to share any feedback you had trying these out. I would love to hear your adventures.
Some of my favorite photos from our own family sessions thanks to our wonderful photographers
Jenny is the owner of Jenny Puranen Photography located in Oak Park, California. Jenny specializes in Lifestyle family, Maternity, Newborn and High School Senior Photography. She has been featured in publications all around the US and resides outside of Los Angeles, California. Click the link below to contact Jenny and BOOK your own Family Photo Shoot