Thursday, December 18, 2014

6 Things I Did Wrong for our Family Pictures {Breathe}

There are plenty of rules when it comes to professional photography...or at least lots of strong opinions!  To be sure, when it comes to family pictures, we want something to turn out well, but well is a slippery word.  What does it really mean?  What are we actually looking for?

During our family's photo session this year, I learned a few things about the rules and how doing the wrong thing can actually lead to some pictures that turn out really well!  And lead to a great experience together (with happy children at the end!)

(I don't like putting images on the internet without a logo, so I put mine on them...but the session was wonderfully crafted by the talented Amanda Schmitt!!)

1.  Shirts with Words or Pictures

Most photographers in the industry will tell us to stay away from words on the shirts.  There is great logic to this, since the words can distract from the faces (and sometimes the pictures on the shirts are as big as the head of the wearer!)  We, however, did the complete opposite and chose shirts with everyone the freedom to express themselves (which they all loved!)

2.  Whatever Color they Wanted

Yes, I know that we never want people to be "matchy-matchy" but usually photographers will tell their clients to make sure that colors coordinate.  Nope...that wasn't us this year.  I just looked at my family and told them to wear whatever color they wanted.  There were no arguments, no tantrums, no one complaining they didn't like the color palette that was chosen.  Not only did they get to express themselves in words on shirts, but could do it in color as well.

3.  No Threats or Bribes

You know those moments just before a photo session when you look at your kids (or husband) and remind them to behave themselves?  It usually ends with one of two things, doesn't it?  A threat of what will happen if your tribe doesn't cooperate, or, if you are a better person than I am...a bribe of some sort of prize that everyone will get if all goes well.  This year, there was none of that from me.  The only pep talk was....have fun and be yourselves.  It took the pressure off me to make anyone behave and, to be honest, probably stunned my crew into obeying out of bewilderment!

4.  No "Perfect" Image in Mind

Many times going into a personal family session, I know the picture I have in mind (usually for our holiday card), but this year, that canvas was blank.  And it was so freeing!!!  As I dropped my conception of the perfect image (which for me is not necessarily everyone looking at the camera), it allowed me to enjoy myself.  The only thing I wanted was to capture our fun, laughter and love....whatever that looked like.  (And yes, the picture above is how we act most of the time, which makes it the perfect image!!)

5.  Make it Fast

Let's be honest....sometimes families don't like getting their picture taken because it takes SO long!  The photographer (and usually mom) is so concerned with getting the right pose or that the composition of the heads create triangles or that the landscape behind looks perfect.  All that is lovely, but not when you are dealing with fleeting attention spans.  We learned this year to shoot quickly (maybe this was made easier by dropping the idea of the perfect image!)  At the end of the session, our photographer looked at her phone, was taken aback and exclaimed, "that was only 22 minutes"!!  Yes...yes it was!!

6.  Playing, not Posing

There is always need in family pictures for giving direction and any good photographer does just that.  But I learned this year that I don't really like "poses"; I much prefer playing.  Putting a family in a spot (giving direction) and allowing the play to unfold makes much better pictures....and makes much happier people at the end of the session!  Plus, it captures real interaction..not just fake, stiff smiles.

Of course, we did one thing RIGHT....we hired a professional!  I will always recommend hiring someone to take your family pictures!  If they know what they are doing (and they should if they are a pro), it allows everyone to relax a little  knowing that photographer knows how to use her camera, can give enough direction, and has their best interest in mind.  (Thanks to Amanda Schmidtt for our great session and images!!)  

(Look!  We have one of all of us looking lovely AND looking at the camera!!)

May your holiday season be wonderful!!  And may you capture many "wrong" moments on camera, that actually turn out to be just right!!

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