Family photo sessions are probably my favorite job to do as a professional photographer. They’re intimate and I love working with children, which makes the family dynamic so much more fun. It’s especially rewarding when I get to do photos for the same family over multiple years, and this Christmas season I had a fantastic mini session with this family at their home! A few things I did to make this photo session really special were to make sure that I was creating a fun and casual atmosphere throughout the whole session , to bring a strobe light for high-quality indoor photos, and to schedule it during sunset for golden hour colors.
It is critical to remember that family photoshoots need to be fun and exciting for the clients, most importantly for the children. If the kids are not having a good time, they will quickly get bored and check-out of the experience altogether. I’ve naturally always loved interacting with children, so it’s been very helpful for me to keep them engaged by making funny jokes or asking them if they like a certain toy or object in our scene. In this case, it was easy for me to ask about which Christmas ornament was this kid’s favorite. Her mom and dad were super helpful by also making funny faces at her behind me in order to get an adorable reaction!
Bringing a strobe light was something I knew would be extremely helpful to capture high-quality photos of the family indoors next to their Christmas tree. I did this using the Flashpoint AD200 strobe, but a speedlight (on-camera or off-camera) will do the trick as well. I chose to keep my strobe on a lighting stand and just fire it with a remote trigger when shooting, primarily bouncing the flash off of the ceiling for a wide blast of light. While cameras these days are able to capture great quality at high ISO levels, the flash will certainly help add a huge boost in quality and production value to your images.
Sunset (aka “golden hour”) time is almost always going to help produce really beautiful background colors. Other times of the day will be ok as well, but 99% of the time it’s worthwhile to put in that bit of extra effort in scheduling the time. One reason is that since the sun is at a low angle on the horizon, you can position the family in between you and the sun in order to get glowing lens flares as well as beautiful back-lighting which creates a glowing orange outline around their bodies and hair.