Guest Post: Getting the most out of Family Portraits

Today’s special guest post is brought to you by a longtime personal friend of mine. I have long admired the wonderful portraits I have seen other moms having done and reached out to Jessica, a professional photographer, for some more information that I could share with all of you. Enjoy and stay tuned for other helpful tips from Jessica on capturing memorable moments in photographs!

By guest blogger, Jessica Grof:

My name is Jessica, and I’m a mom to my 2 stepdaughters, Jessica and Gina,
and my son Nathan. I’m also a professional photographer and I work at
McMillen Photography, and part time at a one hour photo lab
in Uniontown. My kids were my main subjects for quite awhile (they mostly
just squirm when I get my camera out anymore, I guess I wore them out…)
but now I enjoy focusing on other people’s children in a studio setting.

I realize that the thought of getting portraits done can be overwhelming,
especially if you have more than one child, but the effort that you put
forth is very much worth it. It seems to me that people get a false sense
of security anymore because of digital cameras. You can click away and
have hundreds of snapshots of your children and the quality of point and
shoot cameras is improving. Most people don’t even print their photos
anymore. They just keep them trapped in their camera or computer. I’ll let
you in on a little secret here…memory cards fail and computers crash.
Things are changing rapidly if you haven’t noticed; there are several
different types of memory cards and it seems that each brand of camera
takes a different one. Instead of burning CD’s anymore, we use DVD’s
because they hold so much more information. Think about how many changes
have been made since cameras came about. They started off with tin or
glass plates, then film came along. Most of us think of 110 or 35mm when
it comes to film. But before that there were slides, the discs that remind me of Viewfinder
reels and who could ever forget the Polaroids (makes me want to sing shake
it like a Polaroid picture!). Polaroids aren’t around anymore, and who
reading this still even uses 35mm film? My point here is that things
change, all the time. Prints will last, as long as you take care of them.
And they can be passed down from generation to generation.

One of our main points of business at the photo lab are old black and whites that
customers want to get reprinted. Very rarely do these customers have the
slide or negative, they come in with the original print so we can scan it
in and re-print it. That’s just the way it is. I personally value a print
that I can hold in my hand or put in an album (just ask my husband, I have
so many photo albums that it’s a little crazy). Nothing beats taking a
photo album to a family reunion and seeing the looks on the faces of
relatives you don’t see very often as they admire your little ones. And
how in the world are we supposed to fill the frames on our walls without prints?

Portraits are important for many reasons. First, your child will never be
the same as he is today. Tomorrow brings changes that can’t be undone. As a parent, I know how quickly time flies. Before you know it, that baby you just had is walking, then he is walking into his kindergarten classroom. Where did all the time go? You may feel that you are too busy, or that now just isn’t the right time, but if not now, when? We also want to give our children something to remember. I suggest using a 3 ring binder with the
clear pages to store your 8×10’s in when you replace the photo in a frame, instead of stacking pictures on top of one another. That way you have an over-sized album of all of your portraits that you can look through and pass on.Do you remember what your parents did with your pictures? Shoe box? Albums? Nothing? I’m proud that my kids will have their photos to show their children.

Here are a few tips for your portrait day:

  • Schedule your appointment around your kids. When are they happiest during the day? Don’t schedule at a time when they would typically be napping or hungry.
  • You can dress you child casually. The frills and lace are optional. But if your kid is comfortable, it will show in the pictures, and the shoot will probably go smoother too. It may be a good idea to bring a few outfits, in case he happens to get dirty (we are talking about kids here). Most photographers don’t mind waiting the few minutes it takes to change clothes.
  • Bring snacks and a sippy. Sometimes bribery works.
  • If your child has a favorite toy, or if you have a special blanket or hat, bring it! It can be incorporated into the shoot, and make it all the more special.
  • This one depends on the photographer and your child, but sometimes its easier if mom and dad stick to the background and let the photographer be in charge. It can be confusing to a child to have so many people try to get his attention, and he may not be quite sure where you really want him to look. Bunches of people jumping up and down playing peek-a-boo can be overwhelming!
  • Be patient! It’s rare that we have children that come in, sit still and smile for every picture. A lot of the time we have to work for it. Kids wiggle, so re-posing may go on a lot! If they need a break, give them one.
  • Pick up your baby and cuddle or let your toddler roam around a bit.
  • Studio sessions aren’t the same as outdoor sessions. During an outdoor session, we are able to get more natural, unposed pictures of your children. They are more on their turf, so the smiles won’t be forced or fake (you know the big cheesy smiles I’m talking about!). We are able to move around more and get different, creative shots. If the weather is nice and the option is available, a mix of studio and outdoor shots is the way to go!
  • If you can’t choose just a few pictures that you like because there are so many good ones, get a collage. It’s a great way to incorporate several of your favorite pictures into one photo, and in a creative way.

I hope that I have inspired you to make that call and schedule an
appointment to go get some portraits taken. It will be well worth it!

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2 thoughts on “Guest Post: Getting the most out of Family Portraits

  1. Love the tips. I think it’s great that you have a close personal friendship with a great photographer. We’ve only ever had pictures done by people my kids know well and family friends. They behave for them and trust them. Of course that’s been all 2 times we’ve had them done… need to get on that! Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Pingback: Guest blog! | McMillen Photography Blog

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