A while back, Hazel, asked me if I could do a session for her family… and so I agreed. It is always interesting shooting for people who is close to you.
For those who didn’t know who Hazel is, Hazel has been working with Tomato Photo for a number of years now, helping me with client’s enquries and getting the details booked in correctly so I can concentrate on the photography part.
So I decide to let her experience how I help my client from beginning to the end of the session to get to what they want, That is a beautiful images of their family, a symbolic of unity, bonding and happiness and perhaps memories preservation.
I believe the #1 Fear that people have that sometime even prevent them from procastinating on booking that family photography photo shoot is “NOT KNOWING WHAT TO EXPECT”.
As our client Shahira says:
We were initially worried how the kids (3 year old and 7 months!) would be for the photoshoot. Would they be cranky and uncooperative? Then we met Hart who managed to win them over in less than 10 mins. We took his advice to let him handle the kids so we simply watched from the back. The kids were sooo comfortable and were totally in their element. To our surprise, the shoot lasted less than 30mins but it was enough to get wonderful, beautiful photos of the family. Told Hart we will see him again on the next milestone. Thank you Hart!
I feel, as a photographer, I play an important part of the success of the session. By success of the family photography photo shoot, I mean:
1. Making people feel they have made the right decision;
2. Getting the results that they want; and
3. Actually, enjoy the process.
I enjoyed the session very much as I have the absolute control on what I want to create; and see what I wanted to create come to life frame after frame… and of course, curiosity prompt me to ask Hazel to describe to me the whole process and how she feel… and here is what she wrote me:
Despite knowing and working with you for some time now, I was a little nervous and/or anxious about the session with my family; it was going to be the first time having someone else’s focused attention on taking photos of us so I did not know what to expect. But any anxiety and uncertainty quickly faded away the moment I introduced you to my mother and sister. Knowing that everyone was at ease with the help of your calming presence had made me feel at ease as well.
My excitement began to build when you started moving things around the studio in preparation for the setting. I wondered how the photos would look – it is always a joy to me to look at what in my humble opinion are “well-taken” photos. I found that your art direction was easy and clear; I don’t think any of us felt “lost” in a sense. Your positive verbal feedback after every shot was also reassuring – I know how to smile but I imagine that my mum (who does not take a million photos, selfies and videos) may not have felt as comfortable in front of the camera as I would have felt. And that you explained some parts of the session – like why tilt our heads forwards, or why stand sideways, or why the reflector was placed in that particular position – was something I personally appreciated, as I like to understand how things work. I was also surprised by how the little things matter, like when you reminded us to relax our fingers, and that you noticed those things to begin with! But when you think about it, I suppose these things should not be surprising at all, given your expertise and experience – it was all just new to me.
Overall, I would say that the session was comfortable, seamless, and quick; a positive experience for the three of us! I was also really glad to hear my mom’s approving feedback on how you handled everything – apparently she was also anxious and hesitant prior to the shoot but now, she’s a fan! – Hazel
What Can You Expect During The Family Photography Photo Shoot with Tomato Photo?
If this is your first professional family portrait shoot with Tomato Photo, you might be expecting the session to be 2-3 hours long with 3 to 4 to 5 clothing changes and an assistant tagging along and making sure that every detail of the dress/hair is in place…
I’m sorry, I’ll have to pop your bubble here. For my family photography photoshoot,
- it averages around 45mins to an hour.
- I shoot alone because a lot of great moments happen in split seconds especially true for young children.
I would rather sacrifice some of the perfect pose, perfect creaseless shirt, and perfect hair for that genuine moments. Stopping even momentarily to fix those little imperfections breaks the momentum and it will result in missing the shots.
- I don’t work with an assistant too
I find the subject tends to look anywhere but the camera hence I don’t get the right looking into camera shots. Furthermore, I feel children tend to need to warm up to people who are foreign to them, so warming up to 1 (Me!) is easier than warming up to me + assistant. So if you prefer the results, I get them by working alone. So, eager parents and grandparents, I know you meant well to help, but I will request help from you if I need them as I expect you to relax and enjoy the bonding with your family.
Perhaps some of you are curious then about my process from the beginning to the end of the family photography photoshoot… So let me run this down and I hope to let you understand why and how I do it and what it means to the subject in front of my camera.
1. Start with “Warm Up Session”
By “Warm Up Session”, what I mean is time for me to get to know my clients better. This is after all the first time I get to meet your family (apart from returning clients).
At this “Warm Up Session”, I get to talk to each and everyone who is there and understand what is their behaviour/mannerism through observation. This is also where I get to know which kids belong to which family (when I do extended family photography photo shoots). At the same time, brief everyone on how the shoot will be conducted and what kind of “rules” I have during the shoot so everyone is in the same page.
I will then let the children to “explore” the space and get familiar with what is there. This stage can be as short as 1 minute to as long as 10-15 minutes depending on family.
2. The Photography Session
This is the actual image creation process and usually lasts for about 45 minutes or so for a family session.
I tend to shoot really fast and flow from one shot to another seamlessly and go through many poses and combinations in a very short time, especially for families with young kids. I do build excitement and momentum during the shooting process by being the ‘monkey’ while giving lots of reassurances and feedback to clients on how they are doing. Parents are expected to relax while I get the kid’s attention but pay attention to my instructions while I’m conducting the session.
This is the part where everyone will need to keep up with the fast momentum as I give instructions on the fly (especially for families with young children) because the “look” that I want to create is usually a split-second moment type of shot. I do this is to ensure that the people in front of and outside the zone of the camera view “forget” about the camera and focus on what they are doing, how they’re bonding and having fun at the same time. Really… most people won’t have time to worry about anything during this time.
I love families to connect. I love hugs. I love closeness. And I love real emotion in there.
So less posing, more hugs, more emotions in the style of my photography.
For extended family portraits without young kids, posing and positioning will be the complete opposite of the experience mentioned above.
Of course, if I have the luxury (because with young children under 5 years old, it is NOT possible to pose them, so don’t try! I will talk about that later how I navigate in this) of posing people, I will make sure I make changes, even they think it is tiny… I look at the face, the size of everyone and make sure everyone looks about equal and how the light falls on them nicely.
With young children, I tend to ask them to “move” from where they are to where I want them to be, this takes a little experience as it will result into the “pose” that I want and it will happen usually split second. I tend to give instruction as I shoot and I will let parents know during the warm-up session to pay attention to my instructions so I can get the best for them.
I also tend to re-assure the subject when I get something nice of them. That usually motivates them to do more. I build excitement and I also build momentum during this process so people are carried away through these excitements and somehow forget that they are in front of the camera and this is the experience that I create. More about their family bonding and what they do and less about being aware of in front of the camera.
3. The “Closing”
At the end of the family photography photoshoot, I may do a scroll through the camera to show clients the images captured during the session, how the products look like if its a studio session and get to know about any particular flaw/edit that clients need me to pay more attention to.
Clients usually get to view the whole series of images anywhere in the world at their convenience within a week via an online gallery. Image selection/orders are made online and the finished products are delivered when the order is fulfilled.
There were about 20 of us. Ages spanned from 98 to 2, members of the family who wanted to play photographer, children who did not want to smile for the camera and tired members of the family from travelling. Yet, Hart took it all in his stride. He was easy going, warm and made everyone feel right at home. He took great natural shots of all of us and we absolutely love love love the photos.
Hart is superb. Not only was he very responsive – he replied to our inquiry on Christmas Day itself and was available the very next day – but he was also a gifted photographer. He has a terrific approach to building a rapport with small children which really helped ensure our little one was smiling and enthusiastic through the session. Well done! We would definitely use Hart again and recommend him to others.