Photographing a family portrait is as individual as each family is unique. In a short time the photographer needs to access the family dynamics and try to capture the essence of their true personalities.
Recently I photographed this large family – 5 boys and 1 girl, all teens and early 20’s along with their parents. The wonderful thing with this family was they all seemed to truly like each other,
which is immensely helpful, and there was no arguing between each other or the parents. You can
definitely tell the individuality of each personality, from serious to super relaxed, and that does
come across in expressions as well as body language.
Allowing the family to halfway choose their natural positions will help make each one more comfortable. With older siblings it may be easier to place by height and size, however, with smaller children, there are definite preferences of where they want to stand or sit, and it is imperative to a great photo to allow them to congregate accordingly.
With this large family, I wanted to have them spread out to give a relaxed feeling while keeping the continuity of the family. It is important to have families touch – to be arm in arm or holding hands at times will show that they are a unit and love each other. Also clothing choices have a great effect on the mood of the picture, and trying your best to make sure they blend, especially in a large family situation, is very important to create a feeling of a well thought out picture.
I often show people I am photographing pictures I’ve gathered from ads or magazines that display attractive positions and posing. I also get right in there and show people how I would like to have them positioned and how to pose their legs and bodies. A woman needs to know that the front leg bent will give her a slimmer look and a man often needs to know what to do with his hands.
Another way to set the mood is to bring a small speaker and use a station like Spotify to put on background music. With the new portable speakers it is so easy to throw a one on a chair or the ground and the vibes tends to loosen people up and they can forget that they are posing. With all these things in place, it becomes much easier to end up with a beautiful photograph that will take prominence in their family home.