Camera phones and throw away digital cameras do a pretty good job at capturing random candid moments. And when you have kids that can add up to be a huge amount! Even with all of the convenient technology at our disposal, there’s nothing like having a formal family photo taken. Matter of fact, scheduling one annually is a really great family tradition that can serve as a wonderful family heirloom to be passed down from generation to generation.
If using a professional photographer is the way that you choose to go:
Check out a few portfolios ahead of time. The word “professional” basically means that someone is getting paid to do a particular kind of work. It doesn’t guarantee that everyone will fit your particular taste or needs. Remember that a picture is worth a thousand words. Be sure to select a photographer who can convey, in a photo, what you want to be said about your family.
Get the right payment plan. It’s not something that people really think about, but when you hire someone to take your picture, they, at the very least, co-own the rights to the pictures with you. This is why you should discuss ahead of time the kind of package you want. It’s best to get one that has all of the digital pictures available for a flat fee (you can always pay a bit more to have them touch up the main photo you want to use). Also, ask them if they will be using your pictures for promotional and marketing purposes. Sometimes you can get a discount by agreeing to let them do so.
Take some inside and out. Someone once said that light makes everything better and brighter. This is true, but indoor lighting is very different than natural sunlight. This means that different lighting can capture different sides of features and even personalities. You may want to schedule two different days (or even times of year) to make sure you get the best of both.
Of course, you or a friend who doesn’t consider themselves to be a professional photographer may have earned the reputation of taking a good shot from time to time. When it comes to your family’s personal budget, it may be easier to stage your own shoot and pay someone a small “thank you” fee for taking the pictures, instead. If this is more economical for you, a good camera can make all of the difference. If you don’t already own one, take out a few moments to research the top reviewed DSLR cameras. And whether you hire a professional or ask a friend, here are some tips that are sure to give you the best family photo possible:
What not to wear. When everyone has the same colors, top, and bottom, it can tend to make people look like, for instance, quadruplets rather than two parents with their two children. Don’t set out to match, so much as to coordinate. If you’re using a professional, ask them what colors they think would be best for the type of shoot you’re having. If you’re going at it on your own, pick a few options, place them on a bed or table and actually take a picture. See how it translates behind the lens. Be conscious that everyone’s outfit represents their own personalities and if that includes bold patterns, the fewer, the better. Whatever you decide, remember that a family photo is to draw attention to the people in the picture far more than their outfits.
Shoot on a good day. Yeah, the weather is a factor, but this is referring to if you have small children (ages 0-4) that are going to be taking pictures with you. The night before, make sure they’re well rested and be especially attentive to their mood 1-2 hours before the shoot (it’s best to shoot about 30 minutes after their naptime). If there are things that you have around the home that bring a smile to their face, don’t hesitate to take them with you to your photo appointment. And make sure to take snacks. No one is in a cheerful mood when they’re hungry.
Get a little darker and a lot closer. If you want an outdoor shoot, especially if you’re not using a professional, try avoiding the middle of the day when the sun is at its brightest. Squinty eyes or overexposure does not a good photo make. If you’re thinking about poses, when it comes to children, some of the greatest pictures are the ones when it feels like you can reach right out and touch them on the picture frame. If you don’t have a lens to do the trick, be willing to get to their level and as close to them as possible with your camera. If you want to get in on those shots with them, use a timer.
Most of all, remember that a family photo is meant to capture moments that the camera, in times past, missed. In other words, don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself to have them be perfect so much as personable and make a concerted effort to create an atmosphere where people are enjoying themselves. You want to look back and remember how much fun your family had not how much they dreaded taking that picture!