Though there appears to be a digital camera in every purse and pocket these days, momentous occasions should be captured by professional family photographers. This is not necessarily an old-style, stiffly posed parents and children grouping taken in a photography studio, but is more often a location shot displaying more laid-back interaction by the participants.
Despite the relatively casual look of this kind of family photograph, a certain amount of planning and preparation is essential to guarantee the best shot. Designate one individual to supervise the venture (most of the time, it will be Mom) and make sure that there’s a minimum of an entire week to prepare. Everyone should pay a visit to a hairdresser, particularly the men and young boys, a few days before the shoot. A mutually agreed upon location should be chosen, and if it’s outdoors, plan an alternative spot in case of poor weather conditions.
The coordinator should see that everyone in the party is dressed in coordinated clothing. Not necessarily all the same color (although different shades of a basic hue produce an attractive look), but certainly not clashing. In other words, you don’t want Aunt Myrtle sporting a vibrant orange dress while standing alongside Uncle Mort in his purple cardigan. Be wary of patterns, too. Polka dots, plaids and wide stripes separate the wearer from the other members of the group, and numerous intricate designs photograph poorly, detracting from the overall quality of the photograph. Every family member should also be expected to bring spare outfits, just in case (this is extremely important for little ones and babies, who may not stay clean for very long!).
Timing, in family photography as in life, is everything. You don’t want to wrangle cranky or sleepy kids, so sessions should be scheduled around meal and nap times. Enough time should be allocated to allow the photographer an adequate window of time to take multiple shots in a variety of poses, so bring some snacks to ensure the good behavior of restless little ones. And do see that everyone gets an excellent night’s sleep before the appointment with your photographer; nothing will ruin an otherwise excellent photographic session more disastrously than yawning, droopy subjects with dark circles under their eyes.
Beyond all else, choose your family photographer with care. Request an inspection of his portfolio, request references or recommendations and spend some time together to see that your personalities and ideas are compatible. Check especially to see that he has a great rapport with kids – screaming babies and unhappy youngsters do not photograph well. After all, your session should reflect a happy family having a good time. The right family photographer will satisfy that assignment.