DIY Family Portraits

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I’ve been taking my own portraits ever since I became a model and a photographer over eight years ago. Being able to control the environment and practice my craft without a demanding crew waiting for me to get it right was how I became comfortable in front of and behind the lens.

When my daughter was born, it was only right to start taking her portrait as well. We did this every month for her first year of life in order to document the drastic changes that happen over a few weeks’ time. Dealing with the illogical emotions of a child has really put my patience and skills to the test. If you can get ONE good photo of a baby/toddler/child, then you are great at what you do. 

Yesterday, my family set out to finally take our holiday photos and it was quite the adventure. About five minutes into it, my daughter decided she hated that we were doing this. And there was no way she was willing to let her feet touch the ground.

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Me and my husband frantically set up lights, a backdrop, and a tripod in a studio we have access to while we watched the minutes rapidly go by before our time slot was up. Between each setup, there were some tears, some snacks, and some prayer, all the while praise and worship played in the background. I’m still surprised we made it through with any great photos at all.

I was the creative director of the shoot, so I went online for inspiration photos to determine wardrobe, lighting, poses, hair and makeup, etc. It only took a few days of prep to get on course, but as you know you can make the best plans and still run behind schedule and get frazzled in the process.

I doubt that those of you reading this post are going to be involved in every aspect of your family portrait, but if you are, the best tools you can have are a tripod and a wireless shutter remote. That’s how we got our photos without having to run to the camera and set a self timer every 10 seconds.

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Whether you’re taking your own photos or are booked with a photographer for the shoot, here are some tips on getting a family portrait you’ll want to frame:

  1. I know it’s hard, especially with kids, but take the time to pick out a great wardrobe for everyone that coordinates. Go online and look at color schemes that really pop against your chosen background (home, outdoors, studio, etc.)
  2. Mommies, do your hair and makeup the best you can, or hire someone to do it for you. It doesn’t have to look like a shoot for Vogue, but when you look back on the photos, you will be happy that you put in great effort and made it look effortless!
  3. Make sure everyone is rested. Being tired and rushing around is a great way to come across irritated in your photos. Schedule it in the morning after everyone gets a good night’s sleep, or in the afternoon when the kids get up from their nap.
  4. Feed everyone, including yourself. Kids are super cranky when they are hungry. My daughter had just woken up from a nap when we arrived at the studio. She likes to eat as soon as she gets up, so I made sure to nurse her, and give her some of her favorite snacks.
  5. Be patient. It might take a minute for everyone to look at the camera at the same time, but just keep your eyes on the lens so that at least you know you are ready in every shot.
  6. You did it. You finished! Take a breather, thank everyone for a job well done and go sleep, eat, party, or whatever you want to do.

I thought I’d include some outtakes for you, so you can see behind the scenes of what a majority of our photos looked like. Fun, right?

So, that’s that for now.  Be blessed and take time to make your dreams into your reality.

-Kytia L’amour

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