Finding the right fit

There are times when we all wish we could 'shoot the family' or even just a family member, but to the photographers of this world, it signifies a slightly different meaning. So how do we photographers go about organising a family portrait session?

I like to engage with a family member prior to a shoot being organised and ask that person if they are happy to be a SPOC (single point of contact) both before the shoot and on the day. It helps especially when the group is fairly large and diverse in age range. If you ask most families what type of session they want, they either don't know or they want something informal, relaxed and no formal photos. In truth, most don't know at all and don't know what to expect when the photos arrive!

I like to keep my sessions informal and relaxed, and try to engage clients with a bit of humour. I aim to get individual pictures of children done first, followed by group shots with the children in, as they get bored very quickly. My sessions always include the family 'jump' shot early on, as it's a good way to break the ice. I'm always prepared to listen to and act upon the ideas of the clients too (within reason).

Where shall we shoot?

Beaches are quite popular here on the Algarve, but photo shoots on the beach in August can be a bit of a challenge. Take the photo above, the family were a bit shocked when I pointed a bit of waste ground opposite their home, where extra cars used to park. It was unkempt ground with a few trees and quite honestly looked a bit trashy!! The trees provided cover from the harsh sun and a flash and softbox filled in the shadows nicely. You see when I tell clients it's the people who are important not the backdrop, the photo above proves my point. However, there are exceptions, and I completely understand folks being on holiday and wanting a flavour of the location, so I try and mix and match the photos to give the best of both worlds. The photo above could have been taken in a woodland setting or a forest, but only the subjects and yours truly would know the truth. Trust your photographer, especially if you are on holiday. They generally know the area better than you.

Lastly, make sure you and your photographer are a good fit for each other. I have turned down jobs because I'm not what the client is looking for and I often recommend the right type of photographer for them.

Preparation is time well spent

I always ask my clients to wear clothes that compliment each other or pick a colour to run as a theme (no matching outfits please). In the pictures below you can see this in action, especially in the photo with their children, children can often get away with matching items, adults can't! These photos were taken in a hotel courtyard. I'll ask clients to please be ready, clean and tidy as the details always show in the photos. Remember that the photographer often has to deal with different languages so I often learn a few phrases in the native language to help things along. If groups are their thing I will have asked the SPOC to have a list and organise the people at the right time to appear before the camera.

The session itself

As I have said earlier I try and make the session fun and interesting, I have plenty of chat, ask anyone who knows me! I like to keep it relaxed and if there are children to take regular breaks to help keep them engaged. I also like to shoot unscripted moments and small cameos in between scripted photos.

The two hours you book me for will fly by and most people tell me they really enjoyed it, that's important to me as it's part of the overall process and makes for more relaxed photography.

Editing the photos

The next stage is all me, sat at my computer editing, making sure everything picked for the final album is sharp and correctly exposed. I have included a few more random photos for you to look at. Thanks for reading and looking, see you next time.