Family photography dates back to the first appearance of cameras. People want to immortalize their families and relatives for posterity, for record purposes, to create a keepsake, a token of love hanging in the home.
How to Prepare for a Family Photography Session
From choosing a location to the right outfits, a lot should happen before you start clicking the shutter button.
Get to Know the Family You Are Photographing
Take the time to find out if this family has a ‘thing’. Are they hockey fans? Are they music lovers? How old are the kids?
It is always worth figuring out those little things ahead of a shoot. It is so easy to create a unique image that has meaning to them. Keep the dialogue open, from booking to shooting. It will help you make it more special.
It might seem obvious but most people will want to go all out for a special family shot. More often than not, they will overdress.
Which makes them uncomfortable, especially kids. Just make sure they dress to their comfort level, and in a style that works with the chosen location (see below).
Match Your Clothing with the Background
Take the backdrop into consideration in the choice of clothes, color, and style-wise. Orange tones during foliage might be a bit much. However, blues or greys with small brown details create a nice contrast.
Decide on the Accessories
Accessories are your best friends to harmonize the tones and frame faces. Hats, scarves, boots, necklaces, headbands, are the details that make the difference between a good shot and a great shot. It is the attention to detail.
Select the Right Location for the Shoot
Taking the time to select the proper location for a family is fundamental. As a photographer, you should spend time scouting for various shooting locations. Over the years, you’ll build a ‘repertoire’ of locations ranging from green to gritty, and usable at different hours of the day or seasons in your area.
Also, check if the family has a specific location in mind. Each family has its own special places. A family farm, their new home, a park they love. Offering to shoot at their location of choice makes an image more meaningful.
Gear and Camera Settings for Family Photography
Best Aperture Settings for Family Photography
The aperture depends on how deep you want your focus plane to be. If you have a lot of family members in several rows, you should aim for a decent depth of field (DOF).
As a rule of thumb:
If you manage to create a composition of all members of the family in one line, you can use an aperture of f/3.5 to f/4.5.
Once you have multiple rows of people, you need to increase your aperture to f/5.6-8
For large groups, you will have to assess how narrow your aperture should be to increase your DoF.
A novice mistake is to use a super-wide aperture like f/1.4 for group family portraits. Doing so will most likely to blur out some members or even parts of your main subject.