05 August 2014

Family Photo Shoot Tips

{Photo by Husband's Uncle.}

When I found out several months ago that every member for four generations straight of my husband's branch of the family would be in the same place at the same time, I immediately called my sister-in-law.

"We HAVE to do a family photo shoot!" I said.

"I was just thinking the same thing!!!" she said.

When I called the other sister- and brother-in-law, they agreed.

So the deal was on, whether the rest of the family liked it or not!  We had a sort of strategic plan to make it all work, and we did indeed come out of it with some great family photos.  And some bloopers, which in the end are great too.  Want to know what we learned in the process?

Enlist the most agreeable family members first.  

We're like any family, and have our share of members who don't like having their photos taken.  Get everyone else on board, and THEN attempt to convince the fence sitters.  They'll be more likely to play along if a) they don't have to think too hard about clothing and b) they know you'll be organized and it won't monopolize the whole day.

Choose a known piece of clothing, and build around it.

We're not the only family whose majority of members would spend the whole vacation in hiking/running/don't-care-if-we-get-caught-in-Alaska-dirt kinds of clothes, are we?  So this part does take a little planning.  We'll bring something nice for church, but honestly, most of the rest of our time is pretty outdoorsy.  And when we are indoors, we're prepared for the inevitable and frequent suggestion of taking a hike.  Which doesn't mean get lost AWAY from us because we never want to see you again, but instead lets go out TOGETHER, and even if we do get lost we'll have a great time.

In our case, it worked well for the sisters-in-law to manage the photo wardrobe.  We chose one piece of clothing from one family member's closet (all in the mind's eye, mind you), and built around it.  Then in person we spent an afternoon working through the rest of the selections, and aside from a couple of small purchases, everyone (amazingly!) had something that would work.

Of course we looked at ideas on Pinterest and all that, but it really came down to what we had on hand and what we thought might stand out against a natural background.

Make and work from a list of shots you want.

I can't tell you how much relief I saw in people's faces when I said, "By the way, we have a list of photos we want to just work through efficiently."  It took the dread out, even for me.  We were thorough in the list of shots we thought we'd want.  In reality, we crossed a few off as energy waned during the actual photo shoot, but we had prioritized the ones we most wanted, and we got those.

For example:  the whole group, each branch together, all the girls, all the boys, each couple, a few individual shots for those of us who needed them, my in-laws with their boys...things like that.

Choose a good time for the little ones.

I'm sure a photographer would care about time of day as concerns lighting.  We did too, in theory.  But what was more important to us was the experience of the little ones, and scheduling the event at a time when they would be at their best.  As I look back through the photos we have from that day, I'm glad we chose to schedule around those sweet kids.

Let playful personalities have their fun.

I'm the one who needs to take this point to heart the most, I think.  Some family members had the audacity to try to have fun with this organized and well-structured task, and I wasn't too happy with them.  I didn't really care if they wanted to have fun...I just wanted them to wait until we got all the important shots out of the way.  But they turned a deaf ear to my pleas, and, well, we got some hilariously funny and memorable photos from those few minutes during which they broke my unspoken rules.

To my credit, I was of course worried we'd NEVER get back on track if it started spinning out of control, but they proved me wrong and now I'm glad they followed the inspiration of the moment.  We were able to capture some family character that might have otherwise gone undocumented.

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