In the past, we have had family photos taken in a variety of ways. We have simply not done it, we have gone to a studio and we have also hired a professional to take our family photos in an outdoor setting! My favorite photos are the outdoor, slightly more candid photos and so this year, that is what we wanted. My husband is a hard one to nail down though, he doesn’t love family photos time, so with my recent purchase of some new camera equipment, he suggested that we take our family photos our self this year.
That’s it! No expectations other than fun. Then prepare yourself. Bring along props, get mom to bring one of their favourite toys or books. I usually have a hand puppet and bubbles in my camera bag along with my gear. If the kids don’t want to sit and smile don’t force them. Then them run around and be kids for a while and shoot that. Play with them, make it fun. Then they may cooperate and sit for a bit a few minutes later.
Every wedding will require a bit of crowd control during the family group photos. This can be a stressful time for the photographer as you aren’t aware of the specific family dynamics. Sometimes you don’t know who Uncle John is. Plus he’s probably at the bar, the toilet or anywhere other than where he should be. One of our great wedding photography tips is to get the couple to nominate a family member or someone from the bridal party to organise the people. They can gather the guests for the photos and you can concentrate on taking the photos.
Advantage in the home is comfort and connection to familiar surroundings. You don’t have to worry about the weather outside. Disadvantage, you have to clean your house so it will look good in the photos. The lighting may not be optimal. Please check with your photographer on how they will address this. Seasoned photographers will use portable off-camera flash if necessary.
Morning and dusk are the best times to take photos for lighting, but not always the most convenient time. The lighting right before dusk is my absolute favorite! It is warm and beautiful but for children, sometimes it is the hardest time of the day. Morning light is beautiful as well, but sometimes a bit cool, so be prepared to do a little editing. The afternoon light is just too harsh so avoid it is possible. If it is not possible, find shade to take your photos in to diminish the risk of harsh shadows.
There are a few bonuses to using accessories well (as well as layers). One is that changing them up a bit throughout the session can give you multiple looks without having to do many wardrobe changes. They can also be something that the subjects can interact with. A sassy little tip of the hat, holding the ends of a scarf while running and letting it billow behind you, grabbing the lapels of a husbands jacket while pulling him close for a kiss – all these little gestures and ways to interact (and become more comfortable in front of the camera) can be made possible with styling choices. Many of my sessions will feature items used outside their intended use or subject. My girls are often seen in mommy’s hats or scarves (scarves can be used in different ways like wrapped around their shoulders, as a hair piece, etc) and they love to wear my costume jewelry.