Scarred by her childhood encounters with the “fake christmas tree backdrop” at the mall studio, and traumatized as a mother trying to capture her newborn under the direction of an ambivalent photographer, Lindsey Freitas swore off family photo shoots. However, as photography transitioned from an experiment to a full time profession, Lindsey embraced the family shoot, developing her own twist on how to approach the experience.
Whether you are attempting to capture your own family or preparing to be snapped, Lindsey presents her “Rules of Thumb” for your consideration:
1. No studios allowed
I’m sorry but no family ever looked natural in a studio. The end. I’m a natural light photographer so I follow the light. I keep it to the basics. One camera and 2 lenses (85mm 1.4 prime and 35mm prime for you camera heads out there). No flash. No light bounces. No set up. The more artificial stuff you bring into your family’s photoshoot the more artificial your family’s photoshoot becomes. When I am shooting families I am literally chasing children, climbing trees, laying on the ground, rolling around, tickling, giggling & generally acting like a crazy person. Kids dig it.
Remember that your family will not look happy, joyful and like they’re generally having fun UNLESS THEY ARE HAPPY, JOYFUL AND ARE GENERALLY HAVING FUN. What does this mean? Parents need to chill. Seriously. Your kid wants to pick up a bunch of leaves and chuck them my way? Awesome. Your kid sees a puddle and wants to jump straight in? Go for it. This is real life people. I promise you the images will reflect who your family really is in an incredible way and the process will be SO MUCH FUN. This doesn’t mean we will never get images of everyone looking and smiling-it’s actually so much easier to throw those shots in every once in a while because everyone is relaxed enough to look over and throw me a cute grin before we take off running again.
3. Get off Pinterest
Maybe not totally, but Pinterest is a lifestyle photographer’s worst enemy. Using boards for clothing and color schemes is one thing but pinning the exact family shots you want makes no sense for so many obvious reasons. My clients hire me because they know that they have no idea what to expect from the shoot and completely trust that I will see the magic and follow it as it happens authentically. Sometimes I show up at homes and see that their kitchen is totally adorable and filled with bright light so guess what we’re doing for family photos? We’re baking cookies folks. If you can’t be flexible then you leave no space for amazing things to happen on their own and you set yourself up for a whole lotta’ stress.
4. You are what you wear
From a visual point it’s best to choose colors/design in clothing that are not going to distract from the people wearing the clothes. Complementary colors are always fantastic (neutrals, darks, lights etc. etc.). Ideally you want to wear clothing that is both comfortable and stylish but I wholeheartedly reject matching family clothing. Avoid busy patterns, logos or cartoon characters and never choose opposite clothing colors-especially black and white. Big massive hair bows are adorable if your kid loves to wear them go for it but if they don’t, please don’t slap one on their head and expect them to look natural and giddy. You get the idea.
5. Find the right match
As it turns out-these basic rules of thumb continue to result in images and experiences that my clients come back again and again for. My style is not for everyone and I still adore all of the matchy matchy mall photos I get from cherished family and friends every year-if you dig that then more power to you! But if you’re looking for something else in your family photos-chase down the right photographer until you’ve found a match. When I hire a photographer to capture my little bunch of rascals I make sure they have the same general position on family photography and I’m happy to report we have countless images of us throughout the years and I cherish them all-even last years family shoot that highlighted the black eye my 5 year old got that morning courtesy of our coffee table.
So, smile like you mean it!