How to enjoy taking family portraits

Spring kicks off a a busy season of family portraits, the weather is beautiful, although we never really got a bad winter.  I also know first hand that when there are kids involved it’s not always an easy and stress free task to have family portraits taken.  For some reason kids can never be on the same page, usually 1 kid is happy while the other is grumpy (this is how my kids usually are).  Here are some tips that I have learned over the years taking lots of family portraits and also having someone photograph my family as well to help you achieve those beautiful portraits that you’re so wanting to have.

1. Smile.  The kids may not be listening to direction or wanting to do the opposite of what is asked of them but sometimes there’s a smile (even if it’s a partial smile) that emerges from those kids faces usually because I’m doing something crazy behind the camera to get their attention and make them laugh, and when that smile comes out you want to make sure that you’re smiling too.  It’s easy to get frustrated when the kids don’t listen, it happens to me a lot when we are getting our family pictures taken and I used to get so upset with my oldest son for not listening and it showed on my face as our photographer would continue to take pictures.  After going through our images I realized that if I would have just put a smile on my face some of those pictures where he wasn’t cooperating could have been nice candid moments between our family and you would have never known he was being difficult, so now I smile.  It happens all the time, a baby is fussy during our entire session and the parents did their absolute best to make baby happy but at the end feel so defeated.  Then they come to my studio to view their images and their response every time “I had no idea you got SO MANY great shots!”  “You would have never known he/she was crying/upset.”  So just put on a happy face, it might even get the kids to do the same rather than getting frustrated with them.

And then sometimes it’s just fun to roll with the fussiness because it really does make a great portrait in time of what it’s like at that stage of life.



2. Go in with an open mind.  I say this because a lot of times I’ll have families come to their session wanting so bad that perfect portrait of their family where outfits are perfect, faces are clean and everyone is smiling and looking at the camera.  And while it is a great goal to have, it doesn’t always work out that way.  If you go into your session with an open mind you might find that a candid moment where everyone is kissing the baby’s chubby cheeks or the whole family is just embracing each other is actually your favorite image.  I always try to get kids and babies to smile, and boy do I do some crazy things to get those smiles but sometimes just an innocent look from a child is more precious than a big smile.  And please, OH PLEASE, don’t make your children say “Cheese” because I promise you will not want that portrait hanging in your home.  I never say “Cheese” or “Smile” in a portrait session, that is not the way to get a real smile out of anyone.


3. Let the kids play and be themselves.  I’m all for goofing off during a session, to an extent of course.  My goal is to get children comfortable and having fun with me because that’s when they will start to open up and I will be able to document their true personalities and their real smiles and emotions.  Instead of sitting or standing in a family pose for a long time trying to get everyone’s attention and smiling I love to mix it up, lets play and be silly and then, stop, let’s look at the camera!  I feel it loosens everyone up, even mom and dad and gets them laughing and having a good time with their kids, because really, that’s what this is all about.  I want to capture a moment in your family’s life, not a bunch of perfectly posed portraits.  I want the fun stuff, daddy dancing with his daughter, mom swinging her son, the family skipping down the walking trail, lets document childhood, lets document the fun you have between and you and your family.  If you let the kids be themselves and play they are more than likely going to give a smile when everyone is looking at the camera so you can get the best of both candid and posed portraits of your family.



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