I looked at a family portrait the other day, and realized it was disappointing. It was a professionally taken picture, but in the cookie cutter style where my husband was standing on my right, slightly behind me with his hand on my shoulder. I was seated. The youngest was standing in front of me, to my left. We had on our very best clothes. Our hair was done nicely, all in place. Then I looked at a picture a fellow snow person took of all of us in the snow, playing, laughing, and having fun in outdoor jeans, boots, shirts, jackets, hats or caps. THAT is our family!
If you have trees in fall color, or late blooming flowers, or even a sparkling pool in the fall sunshine, use those backgrounds for your family shots. It’s true: with today’s technology, even a professional photographer can take a studio picture in the great outdoors! Are you proud of your garden? Incorporate some of the fruits and vegetables in the picture. Most mobile photographers have scenes they can set up in your yard or home. Most public places are available for a picture, and if you want a group shot in front of the biggest roller coaster in the world, there is nothing wrong with that at all.
If you choose to have the portrait taken inside, pick a room with a family emphasis that will not detract from the main focus: all of you.
Who gets to be in the picture
Family portraits should be just that. Bring Matilda the Beta fish in her pretty bowl. Don’t leave the cats, Jet or Firestar, out. Flag, the black Labrador, is getting old. She won’t be around much longer. This picture can be added to the others across the years.
What about Ginger, the beautiful horse and faithful riding companion? A family shot with her is appropriate.
BFF Lyndon from down the way has been around since he was born. He is like part of the family. Include him, if you wish, and surprise his parents with a copy.
What to wear
This is something only you can answer, but I suggest whatever makes the person comfortable and bears their identity, while still carrying a fall theme. If you want this to be the yearly formal shot, incorporate oranges, browns, and greens into apparel. Plaids are back in fashion, so John may still get to wear his cowboy shirt. Those who love you will love it; those who hardly know you will be impressed with your theme shot.
Glasses are optional, and up to the wearer.
There have been a lot of family pictures and portraits destroyed over the years because someone did not like glasses on their face. Eliminate them for the picture. The way technology is going, no one will have to wear glasses or contacts in the near future. Corrective surgery will be inexpensive and available for all. If you no longer wear glasses, don’t you get tired of hearing someone comment, “Oh, I didn’t know you used to wear glasses!”
Who are these people?
You are family: be close. Show the world you care for each other. It’s like getting married all over again, with more in the picture. Is there a baby? Who wants to hold him or her? Are there identical twins? Split them up for the picture. Triplets? Put a pumpkin out for them to lean against, or make a pile of fall leaves for them to sit or kneel beside, rather than them standing side-by-side, stiff as a board.
Have a wonderful fall, and enjoy your beautiful portraits.
This is the work of the author, based on experience.