Read this to discover my 5 top tips for making sure your family lifestyle portraits are awesomely gorgeous.
I want gorgeous family photos too!
You’ve seen those perfect family lifestyles portraits all over Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and you’ve finally decided that you should absolutely, definitely, one-hundred percent have your family pics taken too. Everyone else seems to be rocking it, so why shouldn’t you, right? Right! You absolutely should have some oh-so-awesome portraits of you and your beautiful loved ones. But how do you know that your pictures will be as good – no, so much better! – than everyone else’s? Read on to find out what my 5 top tips are for getting awesome family lifestyle portraits.
#1 Find a Photographer
This might seem obvious. But, if you want professional portraits, then you will need to find and hire a professional photographer. Simple right? Wrong. I don’t know if you’ve checked recently, but there are a million-and-one photographers out there. If you don’t believe me just head to your favourite search engine and type “photographer in [insert your location here]” and see how many hits you get.
So how do you find a photographer?
Ask your friends. Ask for recommendations on Facebook. Search hashtags on Instagram. You’ll probably find a few dozen potential photographers doing this. Look through their portfolios to see if you like their style of photography. Doing this will help you narrow down your options. Then – don’t be scared – reach out to your favourite photographers.
They won’t bite! And they won’t try and bag you as a client from the first point of contact.
Talk to a few photographers about what you’d like and ask for their ideas as well. See how quickly they respond to your messages. Find out what services they offer: just digital files or prints and wall art products too? Think about whether or not you like them as a person. Could you see yourself having a coffee (or a beer) with them? If you feel like your chosen photographer is someone you’d like to hang out with, then your pictures will be much better because already you’ll be more relaxed.
#2 Be Flexible
I’m not talking yoga poses here, although you may want lifestyle shots of you perfecting your forearm balance on the beach. You’ve probably got an idea of the sort of images that you’d like. And you might have started a private Pinterest board with all your favourite and inspirational pics. But don’t get hung up on these ideas. Do suggest them to your photographer beforehand, and talk through how you might achieve something similar in your own photoshoot, but don’t fixate on copying someone else’s family pictures.
Your family is unique. And your photos will be much more successful if they showcase your family’s quirkiness and individuality.
There’s nothing wrong with being influenced by a certain style or look, but your photographer is creative. They too have a vision. And you bought into their vision when you hired them. Don’t let them push you beyond your comfort zone, but do trust that they want you to have a collection of totally awesome images that you will just absolutely fall in love with. So on the day of your photoshoot share your ideas, have fun, relax and be open to suggestions. Spontaneous photos very often make the best images.
#3 Break Out of the Studio
Okay, so I’m totally biased on this one. I much prefer location shoots. I get that some photographers love studio work. And I get that you can be really creative in the studio with lighting, gels, costumes, props, backdrops and so on. There are so many truly inspirational photographers out there that create fine art portraits from their studios. Plus you don’t have to worry about the weather if your photoshoot is in a studio. Living and working in Cornwall, I am forever checking the weather forecast and tide times and, sometimes, I’m tempted by the idea of a warm, dry studio. But – and this is a huge but for me personally – I am firmly of the opinion that family shoots just work better outdoors. Families are able to interact, play about, have fun and just be themselves in ways that they can’t in the confines of a studio.
“you can forget your photographer is even there”
Most of my work involves photographing children, and where better to capture their childhood shenanigans than at the beach, in the woods, at the local park or wherever you and your kids normally hang out. You might have heard of the term “reportage” or “documentary” in terms of wedding photography, but this type of photography is awesome for family portraits too. It’s essentially your photographer capturing the natural, authentic moments between you and your loved ones doing things you’d normally do in real life. There may be a few posed shots, but mostly you can forget your photographer is even there.
#4 To Twin or Not to Twin?
Now most of us don’t routinely wear the same outfits as our partners or our children. Occasionally we might wear matching jumpers for a Christmas party, or some other celebration or event, but, day-to-day not so much.
However, in your family portraits twinning can mean winning!
You might have seen Dominique Davis’s now infamous Instagram and accompanying blog All That is She where she and her adorable little girls take twinning to a whole other level. Her creative posts are superb, and have attracted lots of copycats, as well as leading to a brilliant collaboration with Joules for their “mini me” collection (read more about that here if you like). But what does one ridiculously successful Instagrammer have to do with your family photos? It’s simple really. You don’t have to wear the exact same outfit as the rest of your tribe, but it’s best not to be competing for visual attention.
So what does this mean?
Visual impact works when your eye is drawn to one thing and then is able to travel around an image naturally. If each of you are wearing clashing colours, tops with big pictures on the front or a riot of different patterns, then your image becomes confusing visually and your eye doesn’t have time to rest. Just think about the Where’s Wally (Waldo) books and how tiring they are to look at. They’re purposefully designed to be confusing to the eye. You probably don’t want that family picture hanging over your fireplace.
Now look at the featured family lifestyle portraits image I used for this blog post. This family are not wearing totally identical outfits, but they are dressed in a similar style. The colours they have chosen to wear compliment one another and their surroundings. The whole palette is calming: it suggests unity, togetherness.
Of course you don’t have to rush out to buy something specifically for your photoshoot; something that matches your three month old daughter, your four year old son and your eight year old terrier, as well as the cherry blossom that’s just started to flower. Extreme, I know, but you get my point. Be yourselves. Dress as you would normally dress (because you want to recognise yourselves in your pictures) and you want to be comfortable. But just think about how your favourite green top will look next to your daughter’s favourite pink My Little Pony printed t-shirt and then maybe choose something else
#5 Have Fun!
Here we have it. The pinnacle of my advice on how to get the most out of your family lifestyle portraits photoshoot. Have fun! Trust me, if you’re stressed out on the day of your photoshoot then your photos are going to look more Adams Family than happy family. I know you feel the pressure of having spent out for stunning portraits (and you do want them to be stunning!) but a smile, some laughter, a loving glance, a cuddle and a stroll together are all fleeting moments that your photographer can immortalize forever.
So there we have my 5 top tips on getting the most awesome family lifestyle portraits. Don’t forget to check back soon for more tips, inspiration and insight from your friendly family and wedding photographer
What tips do you have that you’d like to share? Or, better yet, any advice on what not to do? I’d love to hear from you ♥♥♥