Family Photography- Do's And Definitely Do Not's!

Taking family portraits is an important part of preserving a family's history. If you are working as a portrait photographer, this short, helpful post will guide you through the "do's" and "definitely do not's" of taking a great family portrait together.

DO: Give the Family Good Preparatory Guidance
As the photographer, you can influence the outcome of each family's portrait session. Understand that most people don't know how to look their best in front of the camera. Here are some tips your clients will thank you for when they see the finished portrait:

  • Coordinate your outfits. include here colour, style of clothing, head to toe attention.
  • Use makeup for camera lighting. For women, this means erring on the side of too much rather than too little. You can also ask that clients bring their makeup to the session so you can adjust as needed.
  • Do not eat or drink en route to the session. The jarring and jouncing of transportation can cause spills and stains.
  • Bring one outfit change just in case. If your clients feel indecisive, it is best that they bring at least one outfit alternative to the session - better safe than sorry!
  • Avoid tanning, waxing, or any other visible cosmetic adjustments just prior to the portrait session.

DON'T: Get Pulled into Family Drama
Sometimes family members may squabble during the photo shoot. Don't let yourself get pulled in or persuaded to take sides. You can suggest a five-minute break to let emotions cool, but remain polished, calm, and professional at all times. Remember, an arguing family now can still turn into a referral later!

DO: Check and Double-Check all Equipment and Lighting Before the Session
The last thing you want to do when your clients arrive is to discover that some part of your equipment is non-functional or that the lighting in the space you have chosen is not conducive to a good shot. Know the lighting in your space inside and out at every hour. Check and double check your equipment and make sure you have enough supplies before the family arrives. 

DON'T: Get Too Creative During the Shoot

Stick with what you absolutely know will work. You can brainstorm different ideas with your clients before the shoot, but once they arrive, have a plan and stick to it. Remember, the family has paid you for a beautiful portrait, not so you have time to explore your "creative side." 
With these "do's" and "definitely do not's," you can have successful family photoshoot sessions every time - and happy clients who will refer their friends to you - repeat business never harmed anyone right?

DO: Ask the family to coordinate clothing

Before you meet up with the family you will be shooting it is a good idea to ask them if they would like to coordinate their wardrobe choices.  Of course it is ultimately up to them but it would be helpful to remind them to avoid any extreme colours, prints or logos that will have a negative impact on the overall quality and give you an easier time post production.

About the Author

Michael Jones is a keen photographer and has contirbuted to various blogs offering help and advice in all areas of photography.