The trend in family photos is moving away from studio shots and now are regularly shot on location. The photographs take advantage of natural light, beautiful backgrounds, and the subjects are not restricted by studio size. There is another trend in family photos . . . everyone is a photographer.
True, everyone with a camera can take a picture. But there is a huge difference between someone simply taking a picture, a good photographer, and a talented photographer! Especially, when it comes to family photography.
With auto-focus, photo-shop and pretty backgrounds, so many people think they can buy a fancy looking camera, start a facebook page and call themselves a photographer. I guess they can call themselves anything but that doesn't make it true.
Someone may be able to capture beautiful images of their child or landscapes or romantic couples but that doesn't mean that they can do the same with families. It is easy to get a beautiful picture of a child. Children are cute! It is probably even easier to get a great photo of an older child who can follow directions and pose beautifully against a tree or by a lake.
But family photos bring a whole new dimension into photography. There is a big issue of posing and also making sure that everyone in the photo is doing what they should be doing.
People that simply take pictures don't work out the details of how to make sure everyone looks good individually as well as as a group. People that simply take pictures don't notice that feet sticking out in front of a body make the foot look larger than the head. They don't know to tell clients not to all wear the same color pants and shirt because then the whole group looks like a four-headed monster. They simply take someone to a pretty place, stand them in a group and take pictures...and charge for it!
A good photographer knows how to pose people, tries to catch things like floating fingers and awkward stances. A good photographer will tell a subject to move this way or that, tuck in your fingers, move your elbow to the right, back away from someone else's face... whatever needs to be done. A good photographer sees a thousand details in the lens before the photo is ever taken and tries to direct the clients to do what needs to be done to produce a great image. A good photographer has a million ideas before coming to the photo shoot. A good photographer is always trying new poses, and new locations so that all her/his clients aren't doing the same exact thing.
If you are paying for family photography you should definitely use at least a good photographer! Don't be enamored with a photographer's senior portraits, wedding shots, or little adorable baby shots. Make sure you see family photo sessions before committing to paying someone for this service.
Every once in awhile you come across that last category of family photographers. The true artist. The photographer that was born to take pictures. The talented photographer who isn't satisfied with lining people up in front of a water fountain and calling it good. Nope. This photographer pushes family photos over to the category of art. This photographer takes photos from different angles, she/he lays on the ground, climbs trees, dangles on the edge of a cliff in order to capture beautiful images of the subject.
I had the extremely awesome opportunity to know and be photographed by a truly awesomely talented photographer. The good thing, is we have some really fabulous photographs from our time with her, the bad is the bar is high and so far, has not been met by another.
While I am satisfied with the photographs we had done last weekend, I was a little bummed that there were not any cool artsy shots. In my photographer's defense I didn't specify "please climb on the roof so that you can get a super cool picture of us" or "I'm totally ok with my kids being out of focus so you can capture a really pretty romantic shot of my hubs and I". And while she caught a lot of things to make sure the photos were great, there were a few that she missed. Gabe's head should have been an inch or so back so that he didn't block Matt's face, or Matt's hand is around my waist but only his fingers show or the placement of my hand on my leg is weird. Stuff like that. Someone else may not notice but I know Angela would have!
If you are on the hunt for a family photographer do this:
Decide what you want. Do you like traditionally posed photos? Or are you looking to star in your very own art piece?
Search through a million photographer's portfolios of family shots. Don't look at weddings and babies at all. Look at your friend's photos, get referrals.
When you narrow down your potential photographers, tell them exactly what you are looking for and ask if she/he feels they can provide it.
I told my photographer I wanted a disc with the rights so I could order Christmas cards, canvas prints, make photo albums or whatever else I wanted to do with the pictures. I told her I wanted on location family photos somewhere unique. I also told her I wanted some fun poses.
I should have given her more specifics of what my idea of fun poses would be. If I would have, I know she would have been able to follow through. At the photo shoot she asked me to be specific about what I meant by "fun". I hadn't thought it through and really wasn't able to really answer her. In hindsight, I should have told her that I meant non-traditional poses. Thankfully, she already had some of her own, so we got a little fun.
Tis the season for family photos. Do your homework, don't settle, and make sure you send me one!!