In the words of Michael J. Fox, “Family is not an important thing. It's everything.” When your clients come to you for holiday portraits they want you to capture their “everything” so they can share it with extended family and friends.
Every family is different. Some will want more formal images posed in front of a pretty backdrop while others will want something completely out-of-the-box. All want you to create something that is uniquely and perfectly them. Take the first few minutes of your session for more typical smile-for-the-camera images. After that, have some fun with your clients and let their family dynamics and personalities shine through.
Get Outside and Get Moving
The last thing you want is to have your clients worrying about the perfect pose and if their kids are behaving. Help them feel more comfortable by suggesting an activity that is fun for everyone. Let the kids run and jump in a big pile of fall leaves. Suggest a family game of tag, or a walk together. These kinds of activities not only lead to really natural expressions, they also bring movement to your images, all while your clients are having a great time with their family.
Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate or your clients just don’t want to get outside. Don’t worry, you can still set up an activity that has everyone giggling and having fun. Get them in the kitchen and have the kids help bake festive cookies or make hot chocolate with marshmallows. Let your clients know it’s ok for this to be messy and silly and before you know it, everyone will have flour on their faces and they will all be laughing together.
Replicate Cards of Holidays Past
Thanks to #TBT and #FBF, then and now images have surged in popularity recently. Jump on that trend by having your clients replicate images from previous years. Have them send you their favorite image and work together to coordinate similar clothing, location and posing. These images work best when there are several years between the original and new images, and they are a fun way to see how a family has changed through the years.
Dress Up (Or Down)
Everyone wants to look their best in their holiday portraits and that often means new clothes that all “go together”. Rather than brand new, stiff feeling clothes bought only for this session, encourage your clients to have some fun with their wardrobe options. Ugly Christmas sweaters or matching PJs are a great way to bring some holiday themed quirkiness to the session. Get the kids involved by having them choose what their parents should wear.
Keep it Real
While most clients want their holiday portraits to show them at their best, you may find some of your clients want to keep it real with documentary or lifestyle imagery. Strip away dress up clothes, poses, and other ideas and photograph your clients as they really are. This may mean you need to find out what they like to do during a typical day. Perhaps you hang out for a few hours and capture A Day in the Life. Images may include the family eating dinner together, playing a board game, decorating a tree, lighting a menorah, or going for a walk in the neighborhood with the family dog. Your goal is to catch a very real slice of their daily lives.
Forget Posing, Have Fun
Formal poses and fake smiles are a thing of the past. This year, show your clients’ personalities by choosing interactive “poses” that are actually fun. Have everyone pile onto the couch, floor, or master bed and have a tickle fight. Grab the kids and tell them to jump on mom and dad for a “group hug” and see what they do. Encourage silliness and fun.
When you have clients that insist on being posed, embrace it! Choose a lovely backdrop and wonderful light then use your posing skills to go beyond the boring “smile” and showcase the personality of their family. If you get stuck, don’t worry, we have a Family Posing Guide to help you create something dynamic and fun.
When I was in college, I had a friend who was a professional photographer. The first time I went to her home, I walked in to find stunning photographs of her children on the walls.
There was a huge canvas in their living room and a creative photo display in the main hallway. I remember being so moved by the beauty of those images, thinking to myself, “I want to create images like this!” I bought myself a DSLR as a graduation present, learned photography from online courses and started my photography business about a year later.