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Family portraits are one of the best ways to treasure the shared memories and experiences that have been built up together but taking the perfect portrait isn’t just a matter of pointing and shooting.
As a photographer, working with families to take their portraits is a satisfying, reliable and fairly profitable genre to specialize in. You can work from your studio or arrange to meet the family at outdoor locations.
Top Tip for a Family Photoshoot – Always Use The Rule of 6 Shots.
When you’re taking family portraits you should take 6 photos of them in each pose that you use during the shoot. This will give the family the largest amount of potential photos to choose from at the end of the shoot and help you to figure out what’s working best.
The 6 ways that you should be shooting the family in each pose are as follows:
- A Full Length Landscape Photograph (horizontal including the whole body of the family members).
- A Full Length Portrait Photograph (vertical, including the whole body of the family members).
- A Mid Length Landscape Photograph.
- A Mid Length Portrait Photograph.
- A Close Up Tightly Cropped Landscape Photograph.
- A Close Up Tightly Cropped Portrait Photograph.
After the photoshoot you can go through the different photos with the family and they can choose the ones that they like the most to be printed out. Working with the 6 different types of shot in each pose will make the photoshoot run smoothly and deliver the best possible services to your clients.
What are the Different Ways that You Can Pose a Family Photo?
When you’re setting up a family photoshoot you need to think about the types of pose you want to work with. If you’re working with clients as a professional then you should talk with the family and find out what kinds of pose they would feel most comfortable in that would reflect how they feel about themselves as a family.
The three main ways that you can pose a family for a photoshoot are standing up, sitting down or walking and moving around. More formal family photoshoots will usually be posed in a standing or seated position whereas a less informal shoot might involve walking in the park or even having the whole family jump up at the same time for the shot!
In many cases, depending on the nature of the shoot, the best family photoshoots won’t look overly posed, even if the participants are actually posed! You want the family to look relaxed without the stiffness that can come about from feeling stressed in a forced position.
Should The Family Photo Be Shot Indoors or Outdoors?
Traditionally, family photoshoots were almost always done indoors however as the services of freelance photographers have increased in their scope more are offering outdoor photoshoots as well.
Outdoor photoshoots have several advantages:
- They tend to look more natural and the family is likely to feel more relaxed while walking around or posing outdoors.
- You can work in locations that have a personal meaning or significance to the family. For instance, if they always walk their dog in a particular park you can do a photoshoot there. This adds an extra layer of sentimental value to the shoot.
- You can take advantage of the benefits of natural lighting, including the Golden hour.
- Trees, beaches and other background features can add a lovely context to the photographs.
Indoor photoshoots are also a good option to consider. These tend to be more formal in nature and you’ll probably want to pose the family in either a sitting or a standing position.
Many photographers offer both indoor and outdoor family photoshoot services so you should always ask what your client’s preference is. Don’t forget that the more accommodating to their wishes that you can be, the more likely you are to receive return custom and good reviews!
What Time of Day Should You Do The Shoot?
If you’re working in your studio and relying on artificial lighting then it’s not so important what time of day you do the shoot, however, if you’re working out of doors then the timing is much more critical.
Shooting during the Golden hour will give you soft mellow tones of light that flatter the subjects in the photoshoot. If you’re working with a family who has children then it’s likely that the evening, before the sun sets, would be the best time to arrange the shoot. The children should have finished school by then and the parents would only have to miss an hour or so of work. Alternatively, you can arrange it for the weekend.
Poses That You Can Use in Family Portrait Photography.
Moving poses, such as walking, jumping or running, are best done in outdoor photoshoots because you’ll have the space to position yourself for the shots. It also looks more natural to be walking out of doors as a family!
- Walking and Talking: Strolling or walking is a great way to get started with a photoshoot because it will help to put the family at ease and allow their personalities to shine through. You can simply ask the family to walk while you move around them taking photographs. If they are feeling a little awkward then you can just ask them to talk among themselves. This will help them to get rid of any nervous energy and keep them looking natural and relaxed.
- Jumping Up on the Count of 3!: This is a great pose that you can use when working with families who have children that might be getting bored or restless! Simply ask the family to jump up into the air on the count of 3 and then snap a few pictures while they are in mid air. You’ll need to have your camera set up before you start the count so you can snap a series of photos in quick succession.
- Use Perspective and Create Depth of Field: If you’re taking photos outside you can ask the parents to walk while the children run ahead of them. Position yourself in advance so that as the children run ahead you can take some interesting photos. The children in the foreground with the parents behind them will make an impactful depth of field in the photo while maintaining a natural feel in the shot.
The Main Types of Stationary Poses for Family Portraiture.
These stationary poses work well indoors and out so they are very versatile and are commonly used in all portraiture, including family photos.
- Standing Pose: You can do a standing pose indoors or out. When you’re indoors posing a standing family photo you can create a classical looking image or alternatively, if you’re outside and the family is walking you can quickly ask them to stop and as they look around you can take a photo! This will capture a very organic looking scene of the family which will express their personalities better than a stilted standing pose in the studio.
- The Standing 360 Degree Pose Technique: Another posing technique that you can use is to ask the family to stand close together, possibly hugging or holding hands, and then you simply walk slowly around them looking for interesting, unexpected angles, lighting and shots. This is a good way to capture some unusual but striking family portraits!
- Sitting Pose: This is another very traditional way to take a family portrait and because it’s not as formal as a studio shot standing pose it’s always popular with clients. The family can sit in a relaxed way on a sofa or they can sit in chairs in a more formal manner. You can also use sitting poses while you are outside. If you’re planning to do some outdoor seated poses then bring a blanket for them to sit on too! Have the family sit on the grass and take some photos from various angles. Alternatively, the family can pose around a park bench, with the adults seated and the children standing around them. There’s many ways that you can use this pose and get a wide variety of different effects and because it’s easy for people to relax while they are sitting down you should get some great looking photos.
- Pose with Furniture as Props: Using furniture, such as a retro sofa or cafe tables and chairs, can add extra flair to the photoshoot and ensure that the images are more memorable and iconic for your clients. You can use any number of things including cushions, furniture, barstools, ottomans and so on! Use your imagination and liaise with the family to see if there’s anything they would particularly like to use in the shoot.
Family Pets – Should You Include Them?
If the family has a pet dog, cat, or even lizard, then why not include it in the portrait? It can be tricky when working with animals but when you get it right the results are awesome!
Take Close Ups Throughout the Shoot.
While you’re doing the family portrait photoshoot don’t forget to zoom in if you see a great individual portrait. Getting a few close ups of the individual family members during the shoot will give them more to choose from at the end of the day and adds an extra layer to the services that you are offering them.
How Do You Price a Family Photoshoot?
There is more than one method of pricing a family portrait photoshoot but the easiest and most common way is to quote an overall price for one hour – such as $150.
The overall price, in this example, $150, covers the photoshoot itself and then a certain number of digital photos. You can offer 50-100 fully edited digital images, including the copyrights to the images, as part of your basic package.
You can then offer extra options to add to the basic package. You can be very creative with the extras that you provide.
Some of the extras you can consider including are as follows:
- Offer Prints in small, medium and large sizes. You can arrange the printing and delivery of the photos for a fee.
- Offer mounted or framed prints in small, medium and large sizes. You can make an arrangement with a local picture framer and split the proceeds.
- Offer a photobook of the shoot. You can arrange the printing and delivery of this for a fee.
Of course you want to be competitive in your pricing structure however you are entitled to make a profit on the services that you deliver. Before you set up your pricing structure it’s usually a good idea to check the prices of other portrait photographers in your area to ensure that you aren’t over charging your clients or under charging for your services.
Family Portraits are a Valuable Memorabilia for Your Clients.
There is a consistent demand for family photoshoots and the work is fun and can be quite varied. You can make a good income providing top quality services to families looking to create lasting memories.
Before you start a photoshoot have a few ideas for poses in mind because many families will not be used to photoshoots so you may have to guide them through the session. Try different poses and see what makes them feel comfortable and then do more of that! Always look for those close up portraits during the shoot as well to add extra value for your clients.
When you deliver the finished products try to offer a wide range of print sizes, digital options, mounted and framed photos. This will ensure that your clients walk away happy and you’ll get the positive reviews and word of mouth recommendations that will ensure that your business goes from strength to strength.
Do you have an interest in family photography?
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