What should a family portrait be like?

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Everybody has their own vision of what should a family portrait be like and that is what is great about this kind of portrait photography. There is a photographer out there with a style to suit everyone. You could be the person who likes a more formal portrait with a clean, white studio background, or you could be the opposite end of the spectrum, in that you would like just the daily day to day life documenting as it happens – worts and all so to speak.

I have captured both of those and most things in-between so I thought I would bring you a recent family photoshoot and show you a little of what I look for. I thought this would be useful because people worry about family portraits and and often have a lot of concerns.

Questions such as:

Is our home suitable for a photoshoot?
What should we wear?
What if the children misbehave?
What if the children don’t smile?
What should we be doing in the photographs?

I can answer all of these before your photoshoot, because trust me, I have had the full blown toddler tantrum, the nappy change, the breast feeding, the adults getting stressed, the adults not smiling because they don’t want to be there and even the dog pooping! All normal for me and I totally understand.

So firstly, if you are having a photoshoot at home, it does not need to be a Homes and Garden style mansion. I look for a sofa, bed, wall, or rug near good lighting. These are small areas and it does not matter what else is in the room.
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For outfits, keep it simple and unbranded so it doesn’t date too much. Complimentary colours are always nice. Look at the gorgeous orange, yellow and blues in these images.
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Children will potentially misbehave and once you accept the inevitable and know that I understand and have zero judgment what so ever, the photoshoot will feel less stressful. I am the novelty to most children, so we can use tactics to distract them for a little bit. The key thing is to allow time for your photoshoot. That way we can let the toddler play their games for a little while and then bring them back to the family portraits.
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The phrase I hear most often, is parents telling children to smile for the camera. Don’t feel you have to force this to get the best photos. A direct stare at a camera can be utterly stunning. A laugh is much more natural than a ‘cheese’ smile. Just trust your photographer to bring out the best in them.
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Most adults don’t like being photographed, so I tell my families to just interact and things come across as a lot more natural. You just have to be yourselves in the photographs and I will look for all the little details. Details such as scale of hands and feet and how little your children are at this age. Details such as the looks from your children to you and their expressions. Them exploring the world around them.
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Plus for every family portrait photoshoot that I do, there are always perfect smiles amongst the busy moments. So just relax and enjoy it.
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