Making Memories Together!
When I meet with people to talk about a possible portrait, we talk about a lot of things. That really helps us get to know each other, for one thing. Talking also helps to iron out details that will make their portraits successful. In the more than 20 years I’ve been a portrait photographer, lots of different situations have come up because we all have unique families and special situations. I love that I can pass these tips on to help with your family portraits.
A portrait of your extended family is a real treasure. I have met many people who have told me that it is nearly impossible to get all their family members in one place. Sometimes it’s family dynamics and sometimes it’s distance and schedules. So, if you are able to do this, please know that you are fortunate and make sure to document the occasion with a special portrait. Besides being special to you, the portraits make wonderful gifts for the older members of the family and are an heirloom to be passed down through the generations. What a rare gift when you can get four of five generations in a portrait!
Planning The Family Portrait
When photographing the generations, we usually need to concentrate on things that help the youngest and the oldest members of the family. Our older family members might need special accommodations, like sitting on a bench in the portrait instead of the ground or avoiding the beach because walking down stairs or on sand is too hard. With our youngest ones, we need to make sure they are fed and happy and then we need to move fast so that we can create the images while they are feeling their best. These are things we can talk about when we meet for our planning meeting.
Many times you will have family members coming from out of town. In that case, I suggest scheduling the session on the first day that everyone is going to be relatively well rested and happy. This way, if you need to postpone because of weather or illness, you will have some other dates to fall back on. Sometimes when you have out-of-town guests who will be leaving, you will have to do the portrait session in less than ideal weather conditions. Just make the best of it and remember, this is something that will truly be cherished, even more so if you don’t all get together frequently.
Questions and concerns about what to wear can be harder to handle with a larger group. First of all, as far as finding clothes that will coordinate well, sometimes it works well if everyone agrees on a color theme, like all blues, whites, and khakis for the beach, for example. Another option is if everyone wears the same color, like white or blue shirts at the beach or brown or black shirts at the park. These colors are “safe” and everyone should be able to find them fairly easily. It is important to make sure everyone is on board with the color scheme because if one person is in a totally different color, that person will stand out and make it hard to pose the group.
It is best if everyone purchases their clothes at home so they have plenty of time to try them on and know that they fit plus they like how they look —and avoid last-minute shopping trips at unfamiliar stores. Sometimes, if you know there is a “difficult” person in the group, it is better to let them feel like they are getting what they want, as far as color, so that the session is successful, so use your judgment.
I have also had clients purchase the shirts and just have them ready when the family arrives. This really only works with guys—we women are too picky for that!
Clothing is one of the keys to a successful and beautiful family portrait. Even if not everyone looks their absolute best in the colors chosen, when you are all posed together in a balanced and attractive group, the picture as a whole will look great.
Be sure to decide ahead of time about what you have in mind as far as groupings. Most photographers are happy to photograph each immediate family, all the grandkids together and any other poses you would like, in addition to the main group, but we do need to get clear on the priorities and allow enough time.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give me a call at 772-223-0451.