A lot of amateur photographers believe success in portrait photography depends on the knowledge and technicalities of their gear. While understanding your gear is crucial to being a successful photographer, it is only the beginning of the road to success. A photographer can learn the technicalities of their gear on their own, but the second key to being a successful portrait photographer comes only from experience interacting and working with clients. To be successful in portrait photography you don’t only need to understand how to capture a beautiful image, you have to understand how to create an atmosphere where the beautiful image can be created. The most important thing at a family photo shoot is the environment and atmosphere and energy the photographer creates. As a photographer, we are creating more than images, we are creating the atmosphere for those cherished moments to surface.
Here are a few tips and tricks I have learned over the years from trial and error of working with kids, adults and teens.
The best candid images come from some direction but not a lot. I always tell my clients to look at each other and not at the camera. If I need to jump in and give some direction of what to talk about I have a list of questions in my head that I can tell them to talk about as they walk. It’s much more fun and interesting to see the interactions of family than having everyone walk towards me as if they were zombies :-).
This little stud might just be one of my all time favorites. The trick with kids is to get them interacting. I find something they enjoy or that they relate to and build on that. I almost always go to animals, super heroes and princesses depending on my client. For this little guy, he loved animals. Children will never give you an authentic smile when you ask them to say cheese. Ever. When you connect with something THEY love, they will almost always be your friend. This sequence of images was when I asked him to give me his best Giraffe pose. Inevitably I got the cutest giraffe I ever did see followed was his real authentic smile. He knew he had just been silly and had made everyone else happy-which made him happy-which created the perfect traditional smile at the camera. You manage to grab a great candid image-followed by a great traditional image in just two or three frames.
Teenagers-well they are easy. All you have to ask them is if there are any cute ladies in their life. That always breaks their walls down pretty quick.
One of my all-time favorite poses is the mom with their individual child. Yes, dads are important too, but there is something so special about the bond of a mother and her child.
Going back to this cute guy, we got some great traditional shots. After I knew we had gotten some great shots, I directed them to tell each other how much they loved each other in monkey vocabulary as they looked at each other. This is always a very fun way to grab some great expressions.
Aaaaaaand, he took it to the next level when I asked him to tell them in Lion how much he loved them. You can tell that he REALLY loved his lion family.
Asking kids to dance is always a win 😉
In the end, a successful family shoot is one where my clients leave laughing with a smile in their heart. The true value of a family photo shoot is not just the final product but the experience and emotions and love they felt during the process. It is the atmosphere we create for the emotions to be present that are the lasting memories in our clients hearts.
Have a great day!