5 Reasons to Have Professional Photos Taken: Family Photos

Today starts a new series on why you should have professional photos taken!  Today I want to tackle this topic in regards to...

Family Photos.  

I think many people have a poor reaction to those two words.  I think this is because when family photos are mentioned, often times that doesn't evoke a fun or exciting emotion.  Family photos can even be a stressful event.  This can be caused due to how many people actually want to take them, or on how particular a family member is about how they look in photos.  There are many reasons actually!

Additionally, I think that the 90s kind of ruined family photos with the super posed, super cheesy, awkward studio photos with everyone wearing denim.  Am I right?  I have some of those in my own personal archives from when I was a child!  To this day I'm sure lots of people still have a similar image come to their mind when the words "family photos" are mentioned.

Well, I am here to tell you IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE LIKE THAT!  Family photos can be a fun, relaxed, non-painful experience!   

So.  

Here are 5 reasons to have professional photos taken of your family:

1) To capture true personalities

As a lifestyle photographer, my main goal is to capture people in their natural element, and showcase their true personalities.  To do this, it is going to look nothing like the posed 90s images!  If you have me taking photos of your family, we will not be in a studio, we will most likely be outside in natural light (instead of harsh spotlights blinding you in a studio), you can wear whatever you want (white button downs & khakis not required), and at times I will try to even make you forget I am there.  Don't get me wrong, I think having a few posed photos is great-- as long as they are not stiff with forced smiles, and you do have other more candid ones.  I want to capture your family for who you are together, and how you naturally interact.  This way, even if you are showing the photos to say, a coworker, who doesn't personally know your family, they will still be able to get a glimpse of their candid personalities.  When you look back at these photos years from now, you will be able to remember more about that time in your family's life.  It will create a better memory for you to keep. 

2) Quality

Although this one is probably obvious, I think it is still very, very important.  I have an iPhone 6.  I have thousands of photos in my camera roll.  There are some professional photographers that use an iPhone's camera and make it look like a DSLR camera's photos.  I get it.  But, most people cannot do that.  I believe the iPhone camera definitely serves a purpose and if you take family photos with it, that is definitely better than NO pictures!  However, you really just can't compare the quality of a camera inside your phone to a professional photographer's camera.  Especially if you are trying to capture true reactions and personalities...most of that involves movement, right?  A mom laughing, a sister playfully pushing her brother, or a husband and wife dancing.  No matter how hard you try to capture these moments with an iPhone, it will most likely turn out blurry.  Let's say you're not going for that style, and you want a traditional-posed-everyone standing still-family group photo.  It will be difficult to get everyone's face in focus still, and it will look worse if you blow it up for a canvas in your house.  I'm not saying these will be bad pictures, but they will not compare to a professional photographer's quality of pictures.

3) Better Backdrops & Lighting

Now, there are definitely some people that have a keen eye for backdrops and lighting and are not a photographer.  However,  let's say your family members are like the majority of people, and have not researched, experimented, or been trained on what looks the best for photos.  Non-distracting backdrops are important.  They are actually even more important if you do not have a professional photographer, because your iPhone will not be able to create that gorgeous blur in the background that a portrait lens can.  

However, I believe most professional photographers would say that lighting is the most important factor that goes into a photo.  If you hire a photographer (a good one), you might be surprised and/or slightly horrified when they suggest an ungodly hour in the morning to take your photos.  Do it.  This is not to torture you and ruin your weekend sleep.  Early morning & late in the evening produce a softer and glowing light not found at other times of the day.  This is one of the most common mistakes I have seen in family photos taken.  Middle of the day where everyone is squinting, has shadows on part of their face, or sweating?  Not the best look for anyone.  If you want your photos to turn out the best they possibly can, hire a pro and trust their judgment on the time of day.

4) Better than your neighbor or family friend

Again, I hope this one is obvious, but if you are taking the time and effort to get the whole family to agree on a date and time to have photos taken, don't just ask your neighbor across the street to come over real quick to take "a" photo.  Even if your daughter's best friend offers to come over and take photos for you, chances are it will be a more rushed experience than with a professional photographer.  Even if the person taking the photo doesn't rush you, who wants to make someone spend 30+ minutes trying to capture your true personalities?  Again, if you are still set on just having one posed group photo, there are lots of things that could still go wrong or that you would miss without hiring a professional.  Something as simple as one person's eyes not being opened, or again, someone's face or arm being blurry.  But you don't realize it until your friend or neighbor has already left.  Sound familiar?  A professional photographer will be there for a good amount of time, will be much more dedicated to getting the photos you want, and will check on the spot for closed eyes!

5) Post Production Editing

I know not everyone will agree with this one when they read it.  But I promise, an iPhone photo with an awesome Instagram filter will not be the same as a professional photo that has gone through post production editing on high-end software.  Now, there are probably as many styles of editing as there are photographers, but regardless, a little touching up does every photo some good.  Even if every single person in your family is a model, there are some things you can't control.  A piece of hair covering your face.  Your baby's residual tears even though she cracked a smile in this photo.  Something distracting in the background that couldn't be moved.  And then, for the rest of us who aren't models, there are some things most people wouldn't mind being a little touched up!  Now, I do not believe in the overuse of Photoshop, making people look airbrushed, or noticeably edited.  Like my belief about capturing true candid moments, I edit in the same manner.  I promise you will look like YOU!  I use editing software to enhance the photo.  If it's a gloomy, about to rain day, the brightness can be adjusted so people won't notice the weather.  There is a lot that goes into learning how to edit photos; some would say that is where photographers can create their style, how they stand out from others.  You may look at a photo and love it but not necessarily be able to pick out why you love it.  Chances are, how it was edited made the difference.

Stay tuned for my next blog post in this series!  

- Brittany