Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Few Thoughts on Family Portraits–it’s all about Emotion

Evans Family-17

Back around the first of the year, one of the regular readers of this blog, Natalie, sent me a note and asked if I would photograph her family.  Fortunately I didn’t have to explain to Natalie that “sure, I can do it, but the style you see on my blog is what you should expect.”  Natalie had been following my photography and asked me to photograph her family based on my approach.

Everyone was onboard with my approach, we quickly worked out the pesky little details, and we met in mid-May for the shoot.  We ended up shooting on a rainy, overcast and otherwise nasty day.  Perfect!  The passing rain gave us time to sit around and chat, and when the rain cleared, the clouds remained – a wonderful big soft box providing some great lighting.

Evans Family-45

Natalie and here family were great subjects.  Not only is this a remarkably attractive family, pulled from the pages of L.L. Bean, they made shooting easy.  In other words, they are a family that obviously liked each other and interacted in ways that allowed me to just click the shutter at the right moment.

Evans Family-29

So here is my advice for family portrait photography:

  1. Find a family like Tony and Natalie’s.
  2. If you are not fortunate enough to get a close relative of Tony or Natalie, proceed with the rest of the list.
  3. Place the family members in close proximity – gotta get them all in the frame.
  4. Wait for them to interact.
  5. Click the shutter.
  6. Congratulate yourself on a successful shoot.

Okay, not exactly what you expected.  The point I want to make is that you can find and follow all the rules or guidelines for posing, composition, lighting, blah, blah, blah, but if subjects are posing rather than naturally interacting, laughing, joking, and otherwise just having fun, you will be missing the best shots.

Evans Family-11

Sure, as the photographer you can tell a joke and get a reaction, but it is so much better when Tony tells a joke, and his son reacts to him.  If you, as the photographer, can move toward invisibility, and the family is having fun, you have a winning equation.  To get to some level of invisibility, you need to spend some time with the folks you are shooting.  Spending some sincere time getting to know each other makes the experience easier and more enjoyable for everyone.  Making new friends is definite plus.

Thanks so much to Natalie, Tony and your two wonderful children for letting me share this little slice of your life.

Have fun and go make some great photography.


1 comment:

  1. Craig,
    Great shots and I'm especially drawn to the first one (blown-out, white background). The overcast, diffused light is perfect and really fills in the faces and softens the contrast. Nice job with these and I hope you pick up some more portrait work - your friends/clients will be more than happy.