Whoever said family portrait photography is boring is dead wrong. They're just not doing it right. I've created the Happy Film Company as a way to prove to the world that a family photo shoot can be a fun family outing and family photos can be packed full of personality and joyful feelings. My family portrait photography philosophy is simple: P.L.A.Y.
P = Playground Games
L = Let Kids Run Wild
A = Ask What Makes Them Happy
Y = You Bring the Energy
(P) Playground games.
Boring photos are just a lake of imagination. Take yourself back to recess. When you hear that voice in your head that says "What should I tell them to do next?!....Ahh I can't think of any new poses." Just think about the playground games that kids play: leapfrog, hopscotch, tag, ring-around-the-rosy, hide and seek, egg-races...the list goes on for ages. You don't actually have to play that specific game; you can just use the games as a jumping-off point to get your creative juices flowing.
(L) Let kids run wild.
When you're struggling to have fun and be playful (because you're a boring adult LOL), turn to the kids for help. Trust their childhood spirit to lead the way to more creative photos. Ask them for ideas of what they want to do. Ask them silly questions and see what they come up with. For example, one time I was photographing a little boy in the forest. I picked up a stick and said, "Hey, what's this?" and he said "Oh, that's a magic wand." and then we proceed to spend the next 20 minutes having a Harry Potter wand battle with his parents. See ;) Kids know best.
(A) Ask what makes them happy.
This one is especially relevant for families with super little kids (that aren't able to talk much yet). When you get sick of all the cuddling and kissing photos, ask the parents what they do that makes their kids happy. What makes them giggle? What makes them make silly faces? Usually parents will know right away; usually it's little things like making grumpy faces, silly sounds or blowing air in their babies' faces. Remember all these little tricks for the future so you can suggest them to parents who don't know what to do.
(Y) YOU bring the energy.
Don't expect families to bring the playful creative energy to your family portrait sessions. Most of the time, families are nervous, totally uncomfortable or prepared to be utterly bored for an hour. Don't get sucked into their energy. Don't let your nervous and their nerves combine into a big freeze. Get psyched before your shoot with upbeat music, wack a huge smile on your face and the minute you meet your family, start boosting their energy by giving our your own big contagious positive vibes (even if you have to fake it to make it). If you're really stuck, just keep smile and saying over the top things (in a high pitched voice) like - "Oh, boy this is exciting. Oh man, this is such a pretty day for photos! Wow you guys look so cute. Your pictures are going to look awesome!" Just saying these things will boost everyone's boost and get them more open and ready to play your games.
Go have fun!
-Chamonix & tHFC Ladies
The Haywood Family were celebrating their 1st anniversary for the adoption of both of their children. They took a family picture on the day of the adoption and they are planning to have their family portraits taken every year on or around that special date. During their shoot, we challenged the kids to jump over crashing waves, hop down the beach on one foot, do 100 jumping jacks, and compete in a wheelbarrow race that tired out the kiddos and made them collapse in a pile at their parents feet. ha! #Success