Making or breaking a family shoot largely depends on the amount of preparation you do before the shoot. You do not want a group of people trotting in with clashing colours, or with patterned shirts that cause moire in your photos and no change of clothes. You do not want to drag a family with older folks or young ones across the park where they will be tired and grumpy and it will show up on your images. So here's six quick tips to ensure all goes smoothly on Family Portrait Day!
Moire - something you definitely want to avoid in any Portrait (Image: Digital Photo Magazine)
1) Always ask for their preferred venue
Always ask where they plan to do the shoot, so you have an idea of the backdrop colour(s) and can suggest suitable attire for everyone. When the shoot is outdoors, asking for the venue in advance also allows you to recee the sites and determine which angle the sun is shining from. When it's indoors, it allows you to see what environmental sources of light you can play with and whether you need to bring any assistants and extra lighting for the shoot.
2) Plan the family attire colour scheme against your backdrop.
If there are many people involved, you may want to choose a neutral colour (black, white, grey) as those are common, staple colours that most people have in their wardrobe.
If the family is a fan of colours and invested in getting matching clothes, muted colours within the same colour group will make any post-editing much quicker.
3) Ask for inspiration images
Different people have different ideas of what they want to do with the images you deliver. Some just want to capture good times, and want natural, relaxed and candid photos. Some people want a sharp, solid image with everyone poised and looking their best they can enlarge, frame and display on their wall.
While the former usually takes place outdoors and the later tends to entail indoor portrait shoots, it never hurts to ask so you can ensure the feel they are going for.
A few staple poses involve everyone standing in a straight line, holding hands, hugging, V-shaped, standing with gaps in-between them or having them stand in a zig-zag or symmetrical pattern.
Always take multiple shots, and check your shots so you can continue to make minor changes to the poses until you are happy with it. Images straight out of camera are what you want to achieve, so you do not end up spending excessive amounts of time photoshop-ing what could have been solved on the spot.
Of course, some clients prefer more creative poses so just go wild and have fun with pyramid poses, foreground and background camera tricks...the sky's the limit!
5) Attention to detail
What adds to your shots are the tiny details. For example, you can adjust where a husband places his hand on his wife. He can place his arm over the shoulder, his hand around the waist or hold his partner's hand. A daughter can place her hands on her parents' shoulder, or she can hug an arm which can help hide any flab which mothers can be conscious of.
Check the angles of the face, because people not used to the camera like to stick their chins upwards.
Take note if they have a preferred or better side and work with that so they feel more confident during the shoot. Some people have their fringe parted a certain way, or sometimes guys have bald spots they would rather you not highlight.
6) Keep the mood light and fun
Personally, I have a really dry sense of humour which is not for everyone, but that shouldn't stop you from learning a few tried and tested jokes from your colleagues that you know will definitely work on a crowd.
I also like to get to know more about my clients while walking between venues, and just keeping up the energy and smiling all the time helps the good vibes rub onto your clients and you end up getting better expressions too.
Hope these were helpful, and happy shooting and creating lasting memories :)