Most professional photographers have one or two areas they specialize in, such as events, food, fashion, or travel. They might look at their fellow photographers and wonder how they could cope with their genre.
Weddings are so stressful, animals are hard to work with, events are long hours, and food is a precise art that requires speed and creativity. What it comes down to is a love of the subject and confidence.
Family photography is a subject matter that is rewarding and challenging. It also can be difficult when you are starting out, so we are giving you the lowdown on how to shoot families successfully, beautifully, and without stress for you or them.
Being prepared is essential. Part one is informing your client about the photoshoot. The easiest way is to make a pdf that includes all the info such as:
- Shoot time – explain your preferred time of the day to shoot with a morning and afternoon option. Families with young children often prefer mornings. Tell them they need to be on time, especially if you are shooting in the afternoon.
- Location – Let them know if one or two locations are possible. Give options and let them know they can suggest locations too.
- Outfits – provide a guide on what they should avoid wearing, such as logos, branding, patterns and stripes.
- Payment details along with terms and conditions.
- Editing time.
- Reassure clients your photo shoots are fun and relaxed.
- Ask them to send you a list of who is in the shoot, the ages of the children and if there are any mobility issues.
The second part is your personal preparation. Pack your camera bag the day before the shoot with charged batteries, lots of memory cards, and props and/or gifts (aka bribery) such as stickers or small toys for shy or difficult children. This can save the day.
Arrive early and be prepared to work overtime if needed.
Start by greeting everyone individually, even if there is a group of 10 or 15 people. Make a personal connection with the whole group, including children, before addressing them as a whole. This helps everyone relax and shows you are confident and in charge. Next, tell everyone how you are going to shoot and where you are going to shoot.
The group photo with everyone is always the most difficult to get. Always try to take that one first. At the beginning of a session, children will easily look at you and your camera because they will be curious and perhaps seeing you as an authoritative person. Half an hour later, they won’t be so, and you will have to work harder to capture their attention.
Photograph babies and young children first. Sometimes, if you take kids a short distance away from their parents, they will more easily relax and interact with the camera. It’s fine to tell the parents they don’t need to stand behind you and call their children to smile and look at the camera. You can politely say, “It’s okay, I’ve got this. I might need your help later, though.”
With kids, you can be goofy and silly. Get down on their level and play games and talk to them. Don’t be embarrassed to act like one of the kids to get your shot. The parents will appreciate your warmth and understanding.
On the other end of the age spectrum, often the older generation, particularly grandparents, shy away from the camera. Kindly and firmly tell them you are photographing everyone and mention these are precious images for the whole family.
Move to different locations as quickly as possible to keep everyone entertained. Keeping the shoot upbeat with high energy is essential if you want natural images of everyone smiling and having fun.
Keep in mind the shots you want, including the group combinations, individuals, wide shots to show the location and close-ups. Give your clients lots of things to do so they are directed but not posed. You might ask a couple to walk to a certain tree, hug then run towards the camera.
You will get a routine going after you shoot families for a while, and your confidence will grow. There could be meltdowns, family bickering, lateness, and defiant kids, but it’s all part of the job, and you don’t need to get stressed out about that. Expect it, help them through it and get your awesome photos.
Your clients will be impressed by how you make them feel during the shoot and love the collection of precious memories you give them.
Micro Four Thirds for Family Photography
M4/3 cameras are great for shooting families because they are versatile and produce gorgeous images that are sharp and vibrant. The smaller size of the lenses means you can carry more of them and feel much less fatigue than carrying the full-frame equivalents.
You also have a range of quality lenses to choose from, including the Panasonic Leica range of lenses and Olympus M. Zuiko Pro lenses. You will certainly be able to produce high-quality, stunning group and portrait family photos for your clients, friends, and yourself.