Recently I enjoyed an illuminating conversation with an acquaintance, we share a mutual friend. It was at the mutual friend’s birthday dinner that we found ourselves sitting next to one another. Somewhere between desert and coffee she turned to me and said. “I love your work, would have booked you years ago to come and do a family portrait shoot but my husband always says he can do it just as well himself!” This is indicative of what portrait photographers are up against….Men with kit! Now I have never seen this gentleman’s work, he may well be pro standard and produce amazing photographs, but even if he is, he is missing the point.
As the years slip by, shouldn’t we be asking who are we photographing for? Surely for our children and future generations. Whilst I am sure that their grown up selves will enjoy the fine art style images of them as children, it will actually be those images which show their connection with siblings and parents which will resonate the most and be so precious; It is the love we have for one another as a family which needs recording.
Those images which show emotion and reflect the love that children have for each other, for their parents, sisters, brothers and Grandparents which are likely to be the most cherished. Below are some very different images and approaches, each worked well for the families in question.
In fairness, I am one of the worst offenders for not being in any family photographs. We have so many lovely photographs of our girls interacting with Andrew, laughing and hugging him. He is very adored! I am not in them because I am behind the camera, which is without doubt my own fault. Andrew’s photographic efforts in the children’s early years ensured that he wasn’t entrusted with the camera again! We usually ended up as tiny specks in one of the lower corners of the frame despite my setting up the shots!
Fortunately these Mums had me on the job for their family photo shoots!
So I have made a resolution! No more relegating parents to a few photos at the end of the family photo session…In the last 12 months I have been making a conscious effort to make them a more integral part of the shoot. Here is an image from a Family portrait shoot taken at the end of last year.
What I also love about this image is that I photographed the parents wedding, pre wedding shoot, and now a shoot with all 4 of them as a family unit! It represents so much more than just a family portrait. The images I have taken over the years are on display in their home.
Had I got the opportunity to chat to the husband, the subject of my conversation at dinner, I might have pointed out that however good his photos are, perhaps he needed to be in just a few of them! I might also have suggested that whilst good family portrait photography is expensive, a luxury and an investment, it is also an experience to be recorded as a family, capturing emotion between it’s members and beautifully recording the story of your family and presented as a piece of photographic art which is going to mean so much to your children and future generations. For that to happen, everyone needs to be in the photographs!
Ladies, start dropping hints… It will be your birthday, wedding anniversary, your husband’s birthday and failing all else, Mothers’Day, very soon!
To see more of my work including family portraiture have a look at the gallery on my web site