I have been shooting family portraits for several years now. I accidentally stumbled into the genre when I was asked to fill in for a peer who was sick on the day of the shoot. Ever since then, I have been doing family portraits especially during the holiday season.
Creating and taking interesting family portraits can be very rewarding. Do a good job and you will certainly retain the client for the succeeding years. You will surely also get referrals if you impress them and their relatives. As it is, I have listed a few tips that can make it easier for those who are going into the business of a family photographer.
Collaborate for family portrait ideas
Whenever I book clients, the first order of business is to understand what they want for the photoshoot. Gather the ideas that they have about the theme, location and the best time would be for them. Do not be afraid to ask them for the particulars of the portrait session. Once you have a picture of what they want, you can suggest family portrait ideas to your clients. See what they like and paint a picture of how the photoshoot is going to happen.
Knowing what the client wants will give you a rough idea of how to execute the photoshoot with them.
Scout for a good location
Location is always important for any family portrait photography session to be successful. After collaborating with the family for ideas, you already have some clue about what location to pick in order for you execute what you envisioned for the shoot.
If you have to pick an outdoor location, choose a place where there would be little distraction from the shoot. This is especially important when you have little kids present. They may tend to wander off or lose focus. Once they are distracted, it would be really hard to get their attention back.
Establish a shooting order
As with any photoshoot, it is always a good practice to create a shoot list for your family portrait photography session. This would be very important when working with a client that has a lot of family poses or family members present. Start with a set of simple poses to get everyone in the mood for the shoot. Once you feel that the entire family is ready, then you can choreograph the shoot to achieve items in your shoot list.
After you are done with the list of family poses and other family portrait ideas you might have, you can freestyle and inject some randomness into the shoot. It would make the shoot seem more natural and also fun for the entire family. You can try to vary the participants like having only the females, males or even just the kids.
Also be sure to finish the shoot list quickly when you have little ones involved. I have done shoots where we had to wait on a baby who wouldn’t stop crying.
Have fun when shooting
The last and most important tip would be not to get too serious when in a family portrait photography session. Talk to the parents, joke with the kids and have fun with everybody. Keep the mood light and enjoyable. Remember to be subtle when directing family poses or choreographing a scene. Compliment the participants from time to time and interact with them in between shoots. It would also be good to let them see funny photos to break the ice in cases where they are too shy.
Family portrait photography is a stable way to make a living as a photographer. Unlike weddings, family portraits can be done annually or when there are new family members. Repeat clients are very likely especially when you do a very good job and maintain a good relationship with your client. So be creative, fun and professional and it might well be an annual thing with every client you book.