A family photo shoot is a very important event, I know you think I only say that because as a family photographer it’s in my interest to. But no, don’t forget, I’m not the one hanging your family photo on my wall (or putting your family portraits on my mantle piece!) or your great-great grandchild researching the family history and looking through the old family photos. At the end of the day, customers who ask me to photograph their family are looking for something that is going to capture them as a family and something they can enjoy for many years. Something more than just the quick family snap of everyone quickly gathered around a hastily placed mobile phone propped up on a cushion or a wall. The photos I take are images designed to last and be stored as a record for generations, much like this lovely old family portrait I found online.

A historical family porrtait

The image below shows a modern take on the one above, it’s in colour, but essentially it serves the same purpose, it’s a photographic record of this family

A modern family portrait taken near Horsham

Now don’t get me wrong, I love quick snaps, and I take plenty of those of my kids and family myself, but those are not often the type of photo you are going to print and put on your wall. At most they might end up at a small size stuck to your fridge or cupboard door. They’re lovely, and serve as a memory of a special moment in your lives, and that’s perfect and exactly what a quick snap is about. But those images are by definition personal, for you and not really to be seen by just anyone. I’ve got a photo frame that I keep at home, one of those multi-apperture frames that holds a dozen small photos, and every so often I update the photos in there as our family grows and changes. The images in there are mostly cute moments, sweet, fun and silly memories and all special. They are mostly little holiday memories and photos from special times we’ve had as a family. We and the kids love looking at those photos and remembering those special moments we’ve shared together. What is lacking in almost every single photo is at least one of us (parents) the person taking the photo, as well as any kind of coordination. What is also interesting is that frame is upstairs near the bedrooms, not downstairs in the living room. Those photos are ‘ours’ to enjoy and maybe share with close family on social media (celebrating a lost tooth, or funny happening) but they will only very rarely make the transition to printed image on display.

Personal photos are not technically beautiful, not necessarily perfectly lit or even in focus, they just capture us as we really are.

The photos that go on display in your living room should be more purposeful, bigger and definitely more thought through. There’s a coordination needed about them, they are a record, showing you as a family at this point in time and almost everything about the image conveys something about you.

A ‘proper’ family portrait or family photo shoot is at it’s simplest a record of your family, yes it’s sounds a lot more formal, but who says family photos have to be formal? You can still have a lark about and have fun whilst photographing your family, it’s just pausing that fun momentarily and capturing it that creates the record of your beautiful family that you want to show the world. And this is primarily how I work, there is always a moment of formality, capturing that record family photo image that will last for years and will allow your future generations to look back and see everyone in the family clearly.

As time moves on, people want more personal photos, what in the industry is called ‘lifestyle family photography’, and that is where families are encouraged to simply be themselves, enjoy being together, have a laugh, have a cuddle, hold hands…be real and be un-posed (although the reality of lifestyle photography is there is often a lot of strong suggestion as to how to stand, hold, move/pose…!). Those images are the personal images that capture your escence and family spirit. Similar to a quick snap in terms of feeling, but more expertly captured and with the intent that the image be used, kept and displayed. The images don’t require your face to be in the photo, they don’t even need to show much of you, a hand holding another hand, can be a fantastic image for a parent, partner or loved one, those moments are special and worth recording. And when photographed beautifully, by an experienced family photographer, are worthy of display in your home for all to see.

Young girl running along the South Downs Way Lifestyle photography portrait of a little girl looking out of a slatted window Three children walking amongst bluebells A close up family photo of a couple's hands in a close embrase

As an experienced family photographer, I love photographing families, and have photographed countless family photo shoots over the years. So if you’re looking for family photos, be they formal family photos or lifestyle family portraits, then I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to get in touch and we can book a date in to capture your amazing family.