The Petersen Herd

The Petersen Herd

Monday, August 13, 2012

On Shooting Your Family

 Well, it's that time again - time for a family photo which makes the whole family, particularly Daddy, jump for joy and leap with anticipation.  Seriously though - who's family doesn't hate family photos?  Everyone does.  I've taken a lot of them and there's not a Daddy on earth who thinks that it's just the most fun thing ever.
Since I've done my fair share of photography, I thought I'd record some tips that I was reminded of this year.  Rule #1 - choose an easy location.  Make sure you're shooting where everything will look great, not with one good small backdrop - the better the spot the less you have to worry about cropping out telephone poles and the more you can just follow your subjects around.  We've shot on SUU campus about 10 times now and every year we find something a little different without having to drive too far (also, little kids don't stay looking perfect very long in the car).
Rule #2 - With posing, less is more.  Make sure you remind your subjects to sit up straight (lots of slumped shoulders this year), but the more natural the positions, the better the shot you'll get.  Try to keep little people up off the ground so they can't move as much or as quickly (see Darla?  She was only in this one for about 6 frames before she was out of the shot).
Rule #3 - make sure Mom picks her outfit first and then matches everyone else to her.  Don't get carried away with matchy matchy, but I like to stick to a color theme.  This year I really wanted the girls to wear their matching hats so we worked around that but I ended up in this lovely top that makes me look a bit like I'm carrying #7.  Nope - there's no baby in there, but my outfit wasn't what we worked around.
Rule #4.  Make sure.  I mean it's imperative.  Don't leave without.  Taking a picture of just Mom and Dad.  I don't care how not photogenic you think you are - you're gonna want a slew of romantic photos come that 50th wedding anniversary and you'll never get them if you plan to do a separate shoot later so take time - kick the kids out of at least one shot every year.
Rule #5 - If you want a rockin' collage, do individuals of the kids at the same time, but make sure to shoot the whole family first, it's lots easier to re-shoot a child or two than to try to recreate the whole experience with the whole family.  If you're having a hard time getting a close-up of little ones, go ahead and have Mom or Dad be the backdrop - they're matching and it makes an intimate photo.
Rule #6.  Shoot relationships.  Just like you want one of Mom and Dad together, get a few of siblings together, maybe the girls, maybe the boys - maybe the oldest and youngest or those two middle children who fight like cats and dogs.  Some smaller groups make for some big laughs later.
Rule #7 - Don't expect to get the same flavor every year.  Allow for imperfections.  This year my focus was off in most of our shots.  I don't know why and I am not going to worry about it - we documented and maybe that's symbolic for something.  Most of all just make it happen.  It doesn't have to cost anything (literally), you don't even have to print them, it doesn't have to take much time (I think from start (waking up) to finish (editing the photos) we spent 2 hours?)  but you'll never regret having those photos.  Plus, they make great gifts for the rest of the year for Grandma's and other loved ones.
Rule #8 - there are no rules for shooting families.  But, the less miserable you make it the more likely you'll get smiles next year instead of groans.  I have a friend who buys candy or a new toy for every photo shoot.  One year it was giant lolly-pops and the next it was beach balls.  Get creative, but please take some family photos.  A HUGE thanks to Aunt Jeri for being the button-pusher, nose-wiper, silly sound-maker for this year's pictures.  You are a life saver in a million ways.


Laurel said...

I think I need an Aunt Jeri. We haven't taken pictures since Mare was born and Andrew found out how much it costs to get them...

Sarah Ball said...

Cute family photos! I totally agree, we don't always get the best pics but I always make the effort every year and even if they aren't perfect I look back and love every one!