At this point my family knows, we don’t get to eat Easter lunch until the portraits are done. It all started a few years ago in Tampa and I wanted to get a family portrait…I know it had to be a place that my son would be interested in and since my daughter wasn’t quite a year old, we didn’t have much time. We picked a spot and made it happen. After the second year, it was officially a tradition. Once we moved to Virginia, I had a harder time and this year we scrapped the original location idea for a couple of reasons but I loved the way it turned out.
One quick PSA: If you don’t have a family photo from the past year then please, please get it done.
It doesn’t have to be a professional photographer and honestly it can be with your phone (I do those too and love them just as much) but DO IT!!
If you’re thinking of taking a family portrait yourself, consider some of the following items:
1. Plan ahead/Set expectations. Know where and when ahead of time. Let your family know so they are prepared as well. We tell the kids that after church on Easter morning we take photos. If they cooperate, they get _______( fill in the blank). This differs based on the year and interests but honestly, I’m not ashamed to admit I bribe my kids for a couple of great portraits. Plus, they know exactly when it’s happening, what they need to do to cooperate and the reward.
2. Know how to work your camera! If you don’t have someone taking it ahead of time, know how to use your self-timer or remote. There’s nothing worse than getting your family together and then spending 10 minutes trying to figure out how to use the camera. I promise you’ll lose them. And most cameras (even point and shoots) will have self timers but if for some reason yours doesn’t and you have an iphone, download the Camera+ app…it has a timer built in 🙂 Practice if you have to, but definitely know the details before shoot time.
3. Pick a location. Location can be anywhere but some of the things that I think are important are for it to be easily accessible, great light, simple background and safe. Ironically, I added the safe criteria because I mentioned that originally I thought posing on train tracks would be interesting to my son so it was a bit of an adventure. At that point it was a tradition even through the light was really tough (since these were all taken mid-day) and they weren’t always easily accessible. After reading some articles about how unsafe train tracks are and that’s it’s ILLEGAL to take photos on train tracks, we broke tradition and changed it up this year. This year’s image was taken right outside our new home so it’s definitely easily accessible, meaningful and safe. The light is also better. Win/win!
4. Now it’s time! When you’re ready to shoot…pose the family but remember to leave a place for yourself. Once you set up the family, take a shot and make sure your settings are right. You don’t want to take a bunch of images and realize after the fact that they are blown out or too dark. And again (and especially if you’re using a timer) remember to leave a place for yourself.
4. Don’t get too worked up. I’ve learned that my favorite images are times when we let the kids cooperate at their own pace. If you get worked up, they get worked up. So, be patience, happy, positive and typically you get that out of the kids too. And always do a silly shot…they are the best!
Can’t wait to see some of your family shots!! Please share.
Here is the progression of our family shots: