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Family Photography Information Useful in Planning Your Family Portrait Experience

This is where you will find useful information regarding family portraiture. We will be posting about everything from clothing selection, to locations, including pets and even planning your at home portrait displays

You and Your Family Portraits Pt. 1


 When it comes to your family portraits, the extra thought you invest into the process the happier you will be with your new art work.
 Depending upon how long ago you’ve had your family’s portraits taken and the choice of photographers you’ve made in the past, you may not realize the opportunities that are available to you to personalize the experience and to truly enjoy your portraits for the years to come.
 Your first step in this process is determining what kind of portraits you’d like to have. Most of the time when people think of family portraits they think of the traditional style: Backdrops, studio lighting, everyone looking at the camera and smiling and static.
 There is nothing wrong with this style and I do it quite often. This type of image capture was originally set up as it gives the photographer total control over the image, everything can be setup in advance so that the family can just walk in, get posed and be finished within 20 minutes, which can eliminate a lot of stress for families with children. It became even more the standard because ‘mall studios’ could be setup and then hourly or commissioned employees could capture properly lit images for the big box stores. A knowledge of photography or lighting was no longer needed

  These same ‘stores’ then put photo studios into the same category of trust as used car salesmen used to have. The cheap package bait and switch. 50 prints for $9.95, but when you ordered you left with a bill of several hundreds of dollars


Then there are the  non-traditional family portraits. They are becoming more popular for a number of reasons, but in my opinion it’s because they are more unique and have the ability to display more personality as well as connect emotionally.

·         With these images there may not be anyone smiling, they may not even be looking at the camera.

·         The backgrounds are generally either natural or neutral ( black or white)

·         Traditional cropping is no longer expected in this type of portrait.

 The impetus for these types of images is the commercial/advertising trade. Those images are created with the intention of soliciting emotional responses or awe. They were made to trigger an emotion of some type within you so that you remember them and are moved to take some action. The first major portraiturists to take advantage of this type of imagery were the wedding photographers. They spent several hours with the bride and groom which allowed the capture of traditional as well as nontraditional. The other reason these types of images started here was that the brides had been looking at bridal magazines for at least a year before the wedding. They had conjured images of what they wanted, based upon these books as well as how they had imagined their princess day should look and be since childhood  These images took on the air of advertising layouts, unusual angles, black and white, saturated colors. We were now more than ever not hired to capture reality. It was more about creating story telling images, ones that told of love and happiness.  It was emotion and the grandness of the event, the specialness of the day that was desired.
 Family portraits can be done the same. Shouldn’t your family’s images tell a story of love and of individuality, show personality and character?

You and Your Family Portraits Pt. 2


Even if it is your desire to go with the traditional shoot, you still have things within your control to decide upon.
 Colors and Mood! The mood is set by the backdrop, lighting and clothing worn ( and potentially make-up). There are two phrases that you should remember when making this decision High Key and Low Key. High Key uses bright lighting and a white background. The lighting eliminates most of the shadows and the brightness achieved with high key portraiture generally creates an ‘upbeat’ image. It also, due to it’s nature gives a separation making the subject ‘pop’.
Low key images are then the opposite, dark backgrounds and often a more directional lighting. The images have deeper shadows and are more moody. The low key portrait creates a greater sense of drama.
 Your selection of clothing is the next thing you need to take into consideration. You want your clothing to be complementary to the portrait style you have chosen. Remember that your clothing is an accessory. You do not want your clothes to dominate the image, otherwise guests will notice what you are wearing more than you or your family. For that reason, clothing with patterns are considered a bad choice. Matching clothing is always a safe bet. If there is more than one family in the big image I’d suggest breaking the family groupings down by the colors of their tops, keep them complimentary. By doing this people looking at your new artwork will know what the family groupings are even if they don’t know before seeing the image.

 With the non-traditional shoot the first 3 things you need to consider, just like with real estate is location, location, location. If it’s indoors is it at a place you need to reserve or get permission for the shoot? If it’s outdoors you may need to be somewhat flexible with the time of the day as the location of the sun can be very important with the quality of work you will be seeing. There is also the question of how the weather will be. It’s not necessarily bad if it’s been raining or snowing either. You can get some very memorable shots in adverse weather! Also if we’re going to be shooting you outside and it’s overcast or looks like rain don’t despair. That is the type of lighting that will get you your best looking images. Studio lighting is set to mimic a cloudy day!



Families with Pets

When it comes to your family portraits don't feel that you are limited to only humans. Our pets have become a major part of most families, and there's no reason not to include them in your family portraits if you'd like to.

 Also, don't be concerned about what others may think about this practice. How is your family defined. Loved ones living under the same roof (woof), you feed them, you take them to see a doctor if they don't feel well. They make you laugh, they make you cry, sometimes they can be mouthy. Yep they are a part of your family!