If you’d like something better than happy snaps to hang on the wall, why not arrange a proper family photo shoot. A session with a portrait photographer takes a bit of organising and doesn’t always come cheap, but you’ll come away with a beautiful set of family photos to treasure forever. And if, like so many of us, you find that you’re always the one behind the camera rather than in front of it, this is one time you’re guaranteed to get some decent shots of yourself alongside the family.
The first step is to find a photographer whose style you like and who enjoys working with kids. Look for someone based close by and check out their online portfolio of family images. If you’ve admired professional family photos at a friend’s house, ask who they used.
Next, arrange an appointment to talk to the photographer. Discuss the style you’re after and show them examples of family photography you like. Ask the photographer for their family photo shoot ideas – they may have some thoughts or locations you’ve never even considered.
Find out whether the photographer prefers to work in the family home, in a studio or outdoors.
Choosing the right location for the shoot is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Shooting in a studio or at home will give you privacy and an element of control, which is best for photographing newborns or more formal portraits. But keep in mind that studios aren’t always child friendly, so you’ll need to keep a watchful eye on little ones around hot lights, trailing wires and wobbly tripods.
An outdoors location such as the beach, park or backyard will result in more informal shots that give a little insight into what your family enjoys doing together. Plus, it’s often easier to organise a large family shoot outdoors. However, you’ll need to time the session carefully to avoid crowds or outside distractions, and factor in the weather conditions.
For a photo session at home, schedule some time beforehand to get everything ready. The photographer will want a simple, clutter free background, so remove busy posters or pictures from the wall, clear some floor space, and tidy away toys that you’re not using as props.
With young children, early in the morning works best. Make sure everyone’s had a good breakfast (before they get dressed!) and head straight from home to the shoot.
Avoid the usual cranky times, such as nap times and just before lunch, to make sure that everyone in the family is in a cooperative mood.
Faces are the main focus of any family portrait, so choose outfits that won’t distract from people’s expressions. Simple block colours such as black, white and navy blue work best. Busy patterns, fussy details and logos are all a definite no-no, as is anything very fashionable that will quickly date – the last thing you want is to cringe at what you were wearing every time you look back at the family photos.
In terms of style, take your cue from the setting. Casual jeans and t-shirts work well for the park, shorts for the beach, and more formal attire for a studio session. The most important thing is for everyone to feel comfortable and confident in what they’re wearing.
Aim to coordinate the whole family’s look in terms of colour and style, but avoid anything too matchy-matchy.
Bring along a change of clothing so that the photographer has plenty of options for different set ups, and so you’ve got something up your sleeve in the event of a wardrobe mishap.
Get haircuts done a week or two beforehand, and wash and iron clothes the day before. Trim nails, and if you’ll be doing close ups of hands or feet, treat yourself to a manicure and pedicure.
Make sure everyone in the family has had a good night’s sleep the night before. If one of the kids wakes up ill or cranky, consider re-scheduling the shoot as there’s nothing worse than trying to coax a mega watt smile from a toddler who’s just not in the mood.
Sometimes the best photo shoot ideas happen spontaneously. Take along favourite toys, dress up gear or sports equipment that your children love, and be open to letting them lead the family photography session.
Your little one might feel nervous about performing in front of the camera or find the whole process tiring, so go armed with all the equipment to stave off a meltdown; snacks, drinks, tissues, nappies, and Huggies Travel baby wipes. If all else fails, take a short break and resume the family photo session when your child feels better.
The photographer will give you direction during the shoot to ensure you get the best photos possible. This might mean changing the family’s outfits, moving location or some crazy idea that you’d never normally consider. This is a once in a lifetime family experience, so try to just go with the flow.
A family portrait session is an unusual experience, but it also has the potential to be great fun. The kids will take their cue from you – if you’re relaxed and getting into it, so will they. And don’t aim for perfection – with children that’s pretty much an impossibility, and who knows, a few years down the track those pictures of your little boy’s lopsided grin or the trail of ice cream dribbling down your daughter’s chin might just be the ones that bring the biggest smile to your face.
One of the best things about digital technology is how easy it is to share your family photos with loved ones. Join the Huggies Club and sign into the Huggies Photo Centre to send, print and store your family photos – you’ll even receive 50 free prints when you register.