1. Pick the outfits.
You can see some tips for picking the best outfits from my what to wear post. My biggest advice is to find outfits that coordinate and to stay away from large logos and crazy patterns. In the winter, you can coordinate with vests, scarves and hats. Lay out the outfits for everyone so that all they have to do is grab them and put them on.
2. Find the location.
Whether you will be doing them outside or inside, find a location with the best light. If you’re outside, find a spot with the sun behind you and the light is even. Stay away from areas that give you spotted lighting. If you’re inside, find an area near a window that does not have a harsh shadow. I like to place people about a 45 degree angle to the window or if it’s a large group, facing the window. Again, check for harsh shadows that could hit their faces.
Start thinking of how you will want to pose everyone. If you have a large family where grandparents will be present, maybe think about have a couple chairs out for them to sit on and place the rest of the family around them. If you will all be sitting down, have a blanket ready in your location. Think about the different family groups you will be doing and write them down if it will be easier. I always do a variety of groupings. Here are some examples: everyone together, one of my parents, one of each parent with each sibling, siblings together, etc.
4. Set up.
A few minutes before your family session, set up your tripod and have your settings ready. Use someone who will be your model for your test shots to make sure that everything looks good. Have all props out and ready to go. If young kids will be present, attach something to your camera to get their attention. I have a little squeaky stuffed animal that I put on mind so that the kids have something to look at.
Now that everything is ready, you’re good to go! Everyone will be looking at you for guidance, so don’t be afraid to call the shots. Follow your groupings list and go from there. The more direct you are, the more people will feel like they know what to do. Most importantly, have fun! Family dynamics can be interesting, but they can also be quite entertaining. Take advantage of that to get some nice candid smiles.
Here are some that I did a couple years ago. It was absolutely freezing outside so we did these in about 15 minutes!
Claudia Dalton Photography
Northern Virginia Maternity, Newborn, and Family Photographer
Claudia Dalton is a professional portrait artist specializing in family, maternity, newborn and children photography. She is very passionate about special education and has taught in the field for over 5 years. Based in Purcellville, Virginia, Claudia serves the Northern Virginia area, including, but not limited to Purcellville, Middleburg, Leesburg, Ashburn, Hamilton, Round Hill, Brambleton, Winchester, Berryville, Sterling, Herndon, Fairfax, Bristow, Gainesville, Aldie, South Riding, Haymarket, Chantilly, Centerville, Reston, Falls Church, Alexandria, Arlington, Great Falls, Washington D.C. and more.