Taking Great Family Photographs

Hiring a Family Photographer for Those Special Occasionshalsall2_20150217_7733

When it comes to family portraits there are usually two different kinds. The first is the traditional group gathering, carefully arranged with a clear backdrop – the one where everyone puts on their Sunday best and tries to look enthusiastic if a little uncomfortable. They’re the perfect way of marking the time as your children grow up and if done professionally can look great. They can also be a bit limiting if you want something more dynamic.

The other way is to take candid shots in a less formal setting, for example, while the family is out for the day at a park or enjoying a birthday celebration. As a Surrey family photographer, and a photojournalist by training, I prefer the energy and flexibility that comes from shooting in this way.

It can produce some truly unforgettable images that instantly become family favourites. Outdoor portrait photography involves being able to spot the right moment to take a picture, capturing everyone in that perfect moment in time. Of course, I also work in a more controlled studio setting but there are plenty of ways to make portrait sessions here more dynamic if you really put your mind to it.

Here are some of my tips for hiring the right family photographer along with some of my personal preferences:

  1. Decide what sort of images you would like

Contemporary portrait photographers will always want you go be engaged in some sort of activity. Whether that’s playing with your infant in a controlled environment or out with the kids in some woodland location. It means you get a more dynamic image than if you were all posed rigidly against a dull background.

  1. Taking family portraits yourself or hiring a professional

Most of us carry a camera around whether it’s in our smartphone or a more complicated device such as a SLR. We take them on family days out, bring them out on special occasions such as birthdays or carry them on holiday and snap away to our hearts content. You’ll get some great children’s portraits on occasion and many that you’ll put into your family album.

The benefit of hiring a professional is that they have an eye for outdoor portrait photography which means you’ll get those images you’ll be happy to put on display in your home. It also means you can go out and enjoy your day without worrying about having to snap away or reach for your camera when a great moment comes along.

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  1. What to look for in a family photographer

Wonderful family portraits are not simply about pointing and clicking the shutter button and hoping that one of the pictures will turn out great. Contemporary portrait photographers combine a good eye with an ability to put the subject or subjects at ease. The key when working with a family is making them relax enough so they forget the portrait photographer is there altogether.

If you choose to hire the services of a professional portrait photographer, then make sure you take a look at their work to see if is compatible with what you are looking for. My own personal preference is to shoot outdoors because you more often than not get some great quality images that will endure for a long time.

Composing and taking great family portraits shouldn’t be about rushing people in, firing off a few snaps and pocketing the cash. As a Surrey family photographer I know that getting the best results is about spending time with the family, getting to know them and becoming part of their world for the day. Most family photographers will have the necessary equipment and skills to take a ‘good’ photograph, but you also need to have the personality and social skills to match. Of course, for taking children’s portraits you have to be good with kids too, that goes without saying.

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  1. Make sure there is enough time

One thing I would say if you are hiring a professional family photographer is to make sure that you give it enough time. When all is said and done, if the clock is ticking and you’re looking for great photographs then you will more often than not end up being disappointed. I generally don’t like to put a limit on the time for portraits, preferring to let the session unfold naturally so that there is opportunity to get those brilliant shots that will stay with you for years to come.

  1. What to wear

It’s an important aspect of taking family portraits – what are you going to wear for the shoot? You may want everyone dressed formally in their Sunday best or something more relaxed like jeans and t-shirts. Your family photographer will be able to advise on this area but as a general rule you should try to avoid having one person in a brightly coloured top which makes them stand out. More neutral tones can make sure the eye isn’t distracted when looking at an image and allows people to see the composition as a whole.

  1. Large gatherings

Family portraits aren’t just about mum and dad and the kids. You might have a birthday celebration planned and want a photographer to record the day, making sure that you get some memorable pictures of the day. You may have aunts and uncles coming for a celebratory meal such as an anniversary and want to get them all together for a family photoshoot.

  1. Intimate portraits

One of my favourite outdoor portrait photography jobs is capturing the interaction between a parent and their children. This can produce brilliant images especially when everyone is relaxed and the camera is forgotten about. Capturing the expressions of joy, love, laughter and even, on occasion, tears, can help create something truly memorable that you can look back in years to come and feel a tug at those old heart strings.

Finding the right portrait photographer who can work with your family and bring the best out of them is vital if you want enduring and emotionally engaging images. As a surrey family photographer who has worked with children of all ages, taking time and having the right location is very important when creating great portraits.

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