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Photographing Families: Tips for Capturing Timeless Images by Michele Celentano

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5: Understanding Your Client

A big part of being a professional photographer has nothing to do with cameras, lighting, computers, or anything technical at all. It is about understanding and relating to people. Understanding what drives mothers when they’re purchasing portraits, understanding children, understanding the nuances of how to work with large and blended families, and even understanding how to incorporate the family pet. This is all about the 80%. I can tell a lot about a family by spending just one hour photographing them. Every family is different and you will need to tailor your approach.

Some families are goofy and playful and others are formal and restrained. In some families Mom is in charge, in others Dad is in charge, and I have even seen families where the children are in charge. You will find mothers who want the “perfect” family portrait because that is how they want to see their families. Other moms just want a portrait that reflects the way their families actually are. Usually the dads are just along for the ride (and usually not thrilled about the whole thing).

And, of course, rules are made to be broken. Breaking the rules of art and composition can be effective if you know the rules to start with and you break them with purpose. In this chapter I discuss the “rules,” or elements, I believe are important to portrait photography.

Photography is ...

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