A successful Family Portrait

Having a professional capture your family, or just your children, on film can make a very special memory to keep for years to come. They also make cherished Christmas presents for grandparents and other members of the family. Your chosen photographer may have their own guidelines for you to follow but we have a few here to help you get prepared to help ensure it is a very successful portrait.

A modern portrait usually involves a black or white background. Whichever it is, ensure the clothes you choose to wear compliment your chosen background and do not make you blend in. Also, it is best to avoid clothes with stripes, spots or bold patterns as these can draw away attention from the faces in the portrait which is what's trying to be captured. Darker clothes can be more complimentary and long sleeves are more flattering. Clothes on each person should blend well with each other and not make one person stand out. Matching clothes can look great - everyone wear denim skirts or trousers and a white top.

Above all it is important to make sure all 'models' wear clothes that they feel comfortable in to ensure you get a portrait that looks as natural as possible. Shoes in photographs of children can be quite over powering so it’s an idea to not wear them. Make sure you all have fresh socks and if all subjects decide to be shoeless ensure all socks are matching - black or white. Consider going bare feet to make a more natural looking portrait - mum could treat herself to a manicure and pedicure the day before the sitting.

Try not to make children nervous before you go to your sitting by telling them they must smile, smiles are lovely when they are natural but serious expressions can also make great pictures. Remember routine when booking an appointment that will include a young child - try and ensure that it does not clash with a meal time or a nap time. The addition of a musical instrument or a favourite toy as subtle props can make portraits more personal. Any jewellery should be kept simple and elegant. Make sure dad shaves as late as possible to avoid regrowth.

Most photographers have ideas of how the subject should sit/lie/stand - of course that’s their job, but if you have an idea in mind what you want and have examples from friends or magazines take them along and they may help him create something you will cherish forever.

First published 4kids Winter 2008