Many people I know have had their portraits taken at a well-known photo studio that operates out of malls around the city. They often walk away from the sessions involving cutesy and unnatural poses that the photographer sets up, having spent several hundred dollars and having been forced to make a decision to purchase prints almost as soon as the last shutter closes on the shoot. For some people, this kind of in-and-out studio service may be all they want even if it is a little expensive. However, few people realize that having an in-home portrait session done (either in your own house, or when the weather permits in a nearby park or in your backyard) is not only more convenient for the modern working family, but can also result in extraordinary photos that capture the real beauty of you and your family in a comfortable, familiar setting. No parking fees, no travel time, no big battle with younger children who have an uncanny intuition about being disobliging when you want them to look their best. Just you and your family, having your photos taken at your own pace in your own home.
A family portrait session can be done in just an hour or it can last a little while longer if you have the time. A good portrait photographer doesn’t need an elaborate set-up to shoot beautiful images. All that is needed is one light or maybe two, possibly just a flash or none if the weather is obliging. More important than gear and set-up is the relationship your portrait photographer has with you and your family. A good portrait results from the subject (you!) feeling relaxed and comfortable, knowing the photographer you’ve hired is going to make you look good and natural. Now looking natural doesn’t mean snapping up documentary style photographs of you at the end of a trying day in the office (unless that’s the look you’re after). It simply means allowing yourself to be comfortable with who you are, letting your love for your family show through in the images – the reason you want a portrait done in the first place.
Have fun with your portrait session! Getting ready for the photographer can be fun (like getting dressed up for a party) and the time you spend with him or her should be as enjoyable as having anyone else a guest in your home. Having your family’s pictures taken should be a collaboration between you and your photographer. You will be the one leafing through your photo book or looking at the framed portrait on the wall for years to come so you should have a say in the way it looks while trusting your portrait photographer’s instincts and judgments to take (and choose) the best shots for your final selection.
If you are thinking of having your family portrait done this spring (or even better, if you’ve been blessed with a new baby and want to share your joy with the world!) think twice about what you want to get out of your portrait session. Keep in mind that you can easily hire a photographer to come to your home and photograph you and your family in your own environment, on your schedule, with the least amount of inconvenience to you – and you can probably save about 50% of the cost you’d otherwise spend on a studio session while also having as much time as you like to decide what prints you want done, if any. Today’s digital photographers can provide you with a wealth of choices and there is no need to rush to buy a print to try to pressure you to spend as much as possible while the flash heads are still warm.