Along with weddings, family portrait photography is a staple of many photography activities. Whether you’re doing your friends a casual favor or looking to expand your portfolio, most photographers give family photos a try at some point.
Why is it so common? Because, like a wedding ceremony, family life is a fleeting moment. Parents realize that their children grow up fast and capturing moments from a special moment in their life is a great idea.
What is family photography?
Family photos are basically group portraits. You can look at them the same way and they are certainly similar to the shots that many wedding photographers take. Most clients will want a mix of candid and posed photos. You have to modify your compositions based on how many children and who else is included. The term family is so flexible that this type of work could involve from a couple to a large extended family group with grandparents and cousins. Sometimes even pets are included!
So how does it differ from other portrait styles? First, you will almost always shoot a group of three or four related people. This means that you should have an idea of who is getting along with whom and a rough idea of their type of relationship. It also means that you will have a chance to have a say in the organization of the shoot, including dressing room and locations.
From a business perspective, being a family photography photographer offers many opportunities. If you’re already filming weddings, family photos are a natural follow. You can even offer an annual regular customer discount to your wedding guests. They are also a great way to create repeat customers. Customers may want to update their portraits every year, or at least every time a baby arrives. And word-of-mouth advertising can be powerful, as proud moms and dads are sure to show off your photos.
The best equipment for family portraits
Most of the choices you make for your family photo shoots will revolve around your choice of location. Sure, some clients are still looking for classic studio portraits. But much more common now are outdoor shots that present a beautiful and meaningful place to complete the background.
If you’re shooting in a studio, all the standard portrait rules apply. We recommend a sturdy tripod, flash, softbox or beauty dish, reflectors, and backgrounds. Don’t forget to have adequate furniture for seated and inclined shots. You may need to expand your studio a bit to make room for everyone. It may be a good idea to practice setting up to see what the maximum number of people you can have in a photo is. Read our article to learn more about setting up your home photo studio.
To shoot outdoors, you’ll need to focus on mobility. Most shots will be done by hand and the camera strobes will be awkward. You may be better off with a strobe light on the camera with a good speaker. Remember, in this scenario, you will be taking posed and posed photos, and many times the best examples come between poses. This means that you have to be prepared to shoot, just like at a wedding.