Gone are the days of sterile, seated, studio portraits. Not to say that there is anything necessarily wrong with some studio portraits, but they often seem emotionless – harkening back to portraits where the subjects had to sit for an inordinately long amount of time. Consider Victorian-era baby photos: Because babies are naturally squirmy, there are often hidden mothers in these photos, holding their babies still while hiding behind a curtain or blanket draped over her head.
So naturally the evolution of family photos would trend toward what we knew and not-so-secretly loathed in the 80s and 90s: the studio portrait. Take this gem of my brother and myself as an example. I’d say this was in about 1995. Take a moment to soak up the cheesy background, the overwrought lighting (remember laser backgrounds?!), the painfully awkward poses (who sits with their arm under their chin like they used to make us do?), and the god-awful props (fake trees, fake books, or velvet pillows ring a bell?).
The current trend in family portraits is moving toward beautiful, emotional, candid photographs depicting every day family activities – captured, of course, at the perfect moment. This is my favorite way to shoot family photos. It adds life, movement and a reality to your photos that the studio portraits of my childhood never had. I also like that a family with small children doesn't have to venture into a stuffy studio setting and force the kids into a position in which they're uncomfortable.
I love that you can remember a real moment with this style of family portraiture, rather than a forced one. And that the smile on your child’s face is genuine! A few things to consider when preparing to hire a photographer for modern, creative and dynamic family photos:
- Have a location in mind. Consider the season and what is in bloom, or where the snow looks best. Look for a great metro park in your area, historical building, hiking trail, favorite row of quaint shops, etc.
- Give your photographer a list of times that would work best for your family, especially if you have little ones who are on a schedule (remember to avoid midday when the high sun creates unsightly shadows under your eyes and chin)
- Pack all the necessities if you’re doing a shoot away from your home (things I recommend that a client considers bringing: a solid color blanket, any signs or props they have creative ideas centered around, toys/snacks to distract little ones)
- If you’ve opted for a shoot at your own home, have an activity planned – like making breakfast together, building something, creating something, planting something.
- Avoid patterned clothing – you don’t want to look like the lumberjack club! Have everyone dressed in coordinating colors with 1 or two color pops or an accent color incorporated.
- If there are more “posed” photos that you know you want – make sure to speak up and let your photographer know that she/he needs to pose you accordingly – otherwise they will move you around so that they get the best photos while still keeping that candid feeling.
- And remember to find a photographer whose esthetic you enjoy and whose work you appreciate and would want to display in your home.