Family photos are a great way to preserve memories for years to come. But capturing those special moments can take a lot of planning and preparation. Here are some tips on how to plan a successful family photo shoot.
1- Be Prepared
Before jumping into family photography, make sure you know your camera well. Once you have the family in front of you, it will be very useful to know what your settings should be so that you can focus on documenting them.
If you are just getting started, the most important things to master are:
ISO – this controls your camera sensitivity to light. The lighter your environment is, the lower your ISO will be. The darker the environment, the higher the ISO
Shutter Speed– the speed at which the shutter of the camera closes. To photograph kids, you will need to keep your shutter speed at least at 500 to avoid motion blur and missed focus ( unless your intention is to get motion blur of course)
Fstop – Aperture – it controls the amount of light that enters the camera. This really depends on your artistic preference. A good place to start is 2.5
If you are looking to master your manual mode, the best way is daily practice! You should aim to practice in as many different light scenarios as possible. If you don’t have any human subjects willing to model for you every day (most people don’t), here are some exercises you can use:
- Flowers: daily practice. Photograph flowers in your backyard, park and store bought. Place light source in front of flowers and behind. Observe how the light position affects the pictures. Try different fstops.
- Street Photography: photograph moving objects like cars, bikes and trains. Try different shutter speeds. Higher shutter speeds will make objects more in focus, lower will give you motion blur effect.
- Still life: practice indoor photography with plants, flowers, fruit, cakes, etc. You can experiment with your ISO and fstop. Indoor will usually require a higher ISO unless area has good sun coverage
2- Set your Style
Now that you mastered your camera settings you can start thinking about your photography style will be. One way you can do this is to create a board with photography work from other artists that you love. Collect around 20 photos and then spend some time looking at them. Questions you can ask yourself:
- What features of this work appeal to you?
- Would you say they are generally more light and airy, dark and moody or true to color?
- Are they traditionally posed or candid?
- Was styling a consideration for these pictures ( does it appear that a lot of thought was put into coordinating outfits?)
- Are they mainly outdoors or indoors? If outdoors, is the landscape a big part of the artistic view?
By asking yourself these questions you should be able to hone in on some of the main characteristics that you will want your pictures to have. That will also help you decide on any gear you might want to buy in the future. For example, a 50 mm lens versus a 35 mm. Here’s a great post by another photographer explaining all the different kinds of lenses.
3- Build Your Portfolio
This is where we need to set some expectations. You bought a camera and decided on a style . Now you might think that you are ready to open the books and start charging. Not so fast!
You will want to make sure you can take quality pictures and provide great customer service to your clients before you start charging. In order to make sure you can take great pictures of families, you will have to practice on families. That will also be super useful to build your portfolio to put on your website. People will want to know what you work looks like before they pay you any amount of money for your pictures.
The way you are going to do this is by doing model calls. Yes, that is free work, but consider it an investment in your business. You can read all about how to plan and manage your model calls in this post I wrote.
A good amount would be to photograph at least 10 families before you start charging. This number can be higher, it will all depend on how much your progress after every session.
4- Create Your Customer Journey
Equally as important as taking great pictures is making sure you can provide amazing customer service to your clients.
That means having systems in place so that their journey as your customer is smooth and easy. A few things to consider:
- Gallery delivery: you will need a gallery delivery system so that your clients can access and download their photos. There are many options like Shootproof, Pic time and Pixieset.
- Client Management: it is always useful to have a system to store your client’s information and stay organized. I use Honeybok and they have a very affordable option for photographers who are just starting. This allows you to create templates to respond to inquiries, client questionnaires and invoicing. Definitely worth the investment.
- Website: your website is incredibly important. People see businesses with websites as more trustworthy and it houses a lot of information about your business. You can get started with a self made website from platforms like Squarespace, Pixieset or WordPress
5- Start Marketing Straight Away
The number one thing you can do to help your business thrive is marketing. Now, that’s tricky because you are a photographer, an artist. You probably don’t want to spend your time on marketing. Well, the thing is, you have to.
Once you become a business owner you are going to have to get used to wearing a lot of hats. The most valuable hat is the marketer. Here are some ways you can start marketing your business:
- Social media: plan posts with intention. Write captions to show your personality or add value to your potential client’s life
- Blogging: write blog posts that will add value and educate. Research keywords that will help you rank on google and be found by your ideal clients
- Networking: get in touch with local businesses and organizations. Let everybody know you are a photographer and how they can find you
6- Be Always Evolving
Now that you are running a business things might start getting a little overwhelming. It’s important to remain focused on why you started this business in the first place.
Continuing to educate yourself on photography, business and many other skills will keep you excited about this journey. Maybe there’s a photographer out there who you really admire and they are running a workshop. Or you are interested in learning Off Camera Flash. The important thing is, to keep evolving.
Hopefully these tips will help you get started on your family photography journey!
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