what i've learned from my own family portraits / by Ashley Brown

I don't usually post too much of my own family here on the blog, but I couldn't resist these for three reasons. First of all, this is our first full out, real deal family portrait session since Greta was born. We've had family portraits taken, but only a smattering here and there (one of the benefits to being a photographer!) and I really wanted to have a nice session done around the time she turned 6 months old. Kristen photographed us and, per usual, did amazing work. Secondly, this experience really shed some light for me on what it is like to have portraits made of your family, and I came to a few realizations and learned some tips that I'd like to pass along. And thirdly, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to show off my beautiful girl!

  1. Family portraits are so important! I take hundreds of portraits of Greta, and I know she'll love having them when she is older. But, I also know that is is the family portraits that she will really cherish. They are not only a testament to what our family looked like at this time, but how loved she is. So stop worrying about those last 5 pounds you still need to lose, or how you feel unphotogenic. Being not even 6 months postpartum, I hear you. But, these are lifelong gifts to your children and future grandchildren. Like I always say... its not about you!
  2. Hire a professional. This is a no-brainer, since you can't take your own family portraits. But it does make a difference if the person behind the lens really knows what they were doing. Being that I do this for a living, you'd think I would have known exactly how to pose myself and my family. Not quite! Having Kristen's experienced eye to tell us what hand or leg to move, as well as her phenomenal ability to capture who we are as a family, was invaluable. The professional aspect is also hugely helpful after the fact, when it comes to selecting the best images with an unbiased eye, which portraits to frame and what sizes, etc.
  3. Know your child, and be realistic. Some babies are more serious and pensive, and Greta is one of them. Or, at least she is at this age, which I see in a lot of babies. Certain stages and individual children are more inquistive and curious (extremely common around 4-6ish months), others are more smiley and bubbly, and others are more wary of strangers. If you have a baby or child who on the more serious or thoughtful side, expect them to be that way in their portraits. Of course, we're almost always able to get some smiles out of even the most stoic of babies, but its important to be realistic about the personalities of your children. And most importantly, their portraits should reflect who they are. I love the fact that when I look back at these images down the road, I'll see those faces (i.e. the serious, scrunched eyebrow look she loves!) that so represent who my child was at this age.
  4. Wardrobe matters. I preach this constantly, but I have a whole new level of respect now for the wardrobe selection process. It's tough, because clothing makes a huge difference in the caliber of images produced. I agonized over the location we had chosen and our personal styles to coordinate our outfits. We tend to have more simple and classic tastes, and I knew neutrals would fit well for the slightly more formal feel I was going for. So, we went in that direction. These images would have had an entirely different feel had we chosen jeans and bright colors... which are always great options, too!
  5. Relax and trust the experts. We tell our clients before their sessions that the key to success is being relaxed and trusting us to do our job. That IS why you hired us, right? Children pick up on tension and stress, and when mom and dad are nervous and uptight, the kids will be too (or they will be cranky and difficult). We know that portraiture is an investment, and you want the best possible outcome from your session, but trust us when we say that treating it like a normal day for the kids, rather than a daunting portrait session, is so important. Before your session, we'll have talked about your visions and ideas for your session, wardrobe, location and all of those important details. So the day of, just get dressed, show up (or reschedule if the kids are under the weather), and leave the rest of it to us. You wouldn't have your head under the sink, wrench in hand, with your plumber! And rest assured that we guarantee our work 100%. If we need to come back because a meltdown ensued, it wouldn't be the first time and we never mind if necessary to get those beautiful portraits you came to us to get. That is one of the many benefits of hiring a professional photographer who specializes in working with children!

And now for what you really came her for... the good stuff!