I don’t mind them most of the time – I think they show your baby as he or she is and there’s nothing wrong with that. However at times they can be a little distracting and for those special shots that you might like to give as gifts you might like to do a little photoshop retouching. Most post processing editing tools will have some sort of airbrush or retouching tool – learn to use it, even if it’s just to smooth over the main marks and you’ll be amazed by the results.
Each Additional Grouping – $25 Turn your family portrait session into a complete pictorial session if you have separate groups to photograph. For example, include one group of the whole family, another group of just the grandparents, others with each adult child’s family, and maybe one with just the grandkids. Construct as many groupings as you like.
First and foremost, you need to feel like yourself! If you're a jeans-and-t-shirt kind of woman, will you feel comfortable in a cocktail dress during your engagement shoot? If you love wearing flats, will you feel like yourself in a pair of towering heels? Don't feel like you have to dress in a certain way. The most important thing is that you're comfortable, that you feel natural, and that you're wearing something that's representative of who you are.
I'm a huge fan of “framing” in weddings. Shooting through a crowd and having the only thing in focus be the bride and groom makes the viewers feel like they are a part of the action every time they look at it. Shooting through glass, using architecture to frame, people, nature, etc etc. It gives you a super dreamy and romantic look. (Thanks Mandy Drake)
You need to give space around them and allow for some composition and negative space otherwise they'll feel crowded. The family all in purples tones feels a bit too cramped for me actually. As for it being about the faces - for me it is and it isn't. If you want a head shot, do that. This is a family "portrait" which means "portrayal" - not what your face looks like. For me showing more of the scene that they chose around them it gives more of a sense of who they are as a family. A portrait for me isn't about what they look like, it should give insight into their personality too.
3. Pay attention to where your light is coming from. If you’re using the same setup you used to take photos of the baby alone, your subjects should already be positioned correctly in relation to your light source (large window). They should be facing either the right or left edge of the window (which is where you’ll be standing). Light coming at a 45 degree angle casts nice, soft shadows that define both baby and Mom’s features, while also providing nice catchlights (bright spots) in their eyes.
DO finesse compositions. Instead of asking her subjects to move, Hotchkiss moves herself. "You don't want to disturb the moment by heavy-handed posing. I block out unwanted background clutter by tweaking my position left, right, up, or down." She also says to be aware of the lighting. If, in your viewfinder, the lighting looks harsh on your subjects' faces, it may look even harsher in the final image.
*Stay Awhile*When working with groups, be patient. Eleonora Chornaya, a pro from Kiev, Ukraine (www.evachornaya.com), advises that the best shots often come deep into a shoot, when subjects are tiring and lacking the energy for artificial seeming poses. In her father/daughter portrait above, she intentionally left her subjects alone “to give the scene time to settle. I watched them from a distance, and when they relaxed almost to the point of boredom, I took out my camera.” Learn to work with children. Bing Liem, who specializes in shots of his daughters, says that if you’re shooting children you should get down on their level at first. Then change your point of view. “Shoot from slightly above to emphasize the child’s eyes, or from below to give a child a monumental, adult treatment,” he says. Tilting the camera so the subject isn’t square within the frame is an effective way to produce tighter shots that don’t look like elementary-school portraits. “But be careful not to include door jams or windows in the background, because the tilted camera will show these normally horizontal and vertical lines askew, which can be subconsciously off-putting,” says Liem. And, “shoot in relaxed settings that the kids are accustomed to,” he advises. “Hauling out big lights only makes them nervous.” You should work quickly. “Flow from moment to moment,” counsels amateur Nolke. “Work with the child’s poses, expressions and moods. Don’t dictate.”Eleonora Chornaya
“I was definitely a little nervous going into the shoot – I wanted the photos to feel natural and not come off as too “staged.” Kate made us all feel totally at ease! As soon as I met her I knew it was going to be a great experience. It was clear she is a pro – she could not have a more perfect personality for family photography! I cried the first time I saw our photos, and I will truly treasure them forever.”
Thank you so much for this article! This past weekend I did my 3rd newborn session which happened to be my grandson. It took 4 hours and I had such difficulty getting him into the poses that I had planned in my head, that when the session was over with I felt totally defeated. I experienced everything you mentioned, including overwhelming myself with too many props. I started doubting myself and wondering if I was even cut out to be a newborn photographer. Your article was very helpful and encouraging at the same time. Thank you so much!
Shoes matter. Please don’t wear sneakers – unless we’re talking about some funky Converse that go with the feel of the session. The choice of shoes can make or break an outfit. Slipping on a pair of hip, distressed boots or some colorful ballet flats can tie everything together and complete the feel of the session. Think about coordinating those bright and colorful shoes with other accessories and clothing in the photo – not necessarily on the subject themselves, but rather match little sister’s bright turquoise shoes to the sweater or scarf her mama is wearing. It ties everything together without looking too match-y match-y. And many times NO shoes looks best, especially if you’ll be sitting or in poses where the bottoms of shoes can be seen – that never looks pretty. And don’t forget some funky socks to add another splash of color or personality if your overall look of the session is fun and bright.