When a young family begins to blossom, many parents are motivated to hire a photographer to shoot their family portrait. Even though parents document nearly every waking (and some sleeping) moment of a new child with iPads, iPhones and inexpensive point and shoot cameras (there are still a few around), there is something about hiring a pro to shoot the “official” family portrait that still has appeal. I’ve done my share of family sessions, in studios, in parks, living rooms and backyards, but one still stands out for its singular point of view.The idea for this eye-level family portrait actually came from my client herself (99% of all family portraits are booked and organized by the mother of the house). She had a vision for exactly the kind of photo she wanted for her family portrait and I helped execute it for her. This is also an example of the co-creativity involved in producing real, meaningful portraits and this approach can be applied to any kind of portrait, not just the family, but for corporate or professional head shots as well. Sometimes all it takes is stepping out of the office and into the street, taking advantage of the natural urban setting, or finding a convenient, non-traditional backdrop, as in the two shots below.
Other times, a really non-traditional portrait can be created by focusing on mood or atmosphere, or playing off an idea generated through discussions with clients about how and what they want to present as an image. Here are a few which turn the concept of a traditional portrait on its head, but still achieve a distinctive look that could be interesting and useful for some purposes.
Whatever your purpose is for having a portrait taken, consider your creative options before doing it. You may want and need a straight up conventional shot for an updated LinkedIn profile or to add to your bio when publishing a piece of your work, but you can also explore and have a little fun with your image, generating portraits that say something about how you feel or wish to be perceived, whether that is for a private audience or more personalized project in which you want to show something of yourself that is unique, creative and clever. Non-standard crops, artsy Photoshop filters, even blurred images can produce interesting images that might look good printed on canvas as a gift to a loved one, or just to show a different side of yourself to the one everyone expects to see. Whatever your goals are in creating a portrait, taking time to explore your creativity with your photographer can often produce images that are as memorable and unique as you are.