I am far from a professional portrait photographer. I’m far from a professional anything photographer. So when my sister-in-law asked me to take some family photos for her towards the end of last year, my natural reaction was to panic. Had the request come from anyone else, my answer probably would have been a flat out no! But, because it came from family I felt a little give. I discussed my worries with my husband (I don’t know how to pose people; My photos are nothing compared to the array of professionals around town; I’ve never attempted to capture a large group before) and eventually decided that I would give it a go.
It took a bit of organising to decide on a time for a session that would suit everyone, we had to work around children in school, preschoolers, a recently born baby, and the roster of a Police Officer in training; all up there are eight people in the family, with the children ranging in age from newborn (creeping up on six months old now) all the way up to nine years old. We set a date and I set about researching ideas for capturing the family in the best way possible.
Part of my research was practising on anyone who would let me point the camera in their direction, and trying to find a way to run through some group poses to give me an idea of settings; I wanted to make sure everyone was in focus and able to be seen. So I called upon a friend and his family, tacked them onto ours, and voila! the perfect practice family. Unfortunately, most of those photos were horrendous and ended up finding their way to the cutting room floor. No fault of the models, all down to my lack of experience and skill in that area.
When the day rolled around I was still extremely nervous about it all, and I think I let them get the better of me. I didn’t come away with very many useable images, and I felt that I had wasted everyones time in even attempting the session. I wallowed for a little while in my own disappointment, and eventually told my sister-in-law what was going on. I wanted to try again, but didn’t want her to have to go through the hassle of organising all the children again when I didn’t even know that I would get any good images the second time around; but she agreed to another session and we headed up for another wander around the park. This time we went a little earlier in the day and I mostly just followed the children around, trying to capture them as naturally as possible. There were one or two times where we asked them to sit or stand in a certain spot, and those images worked reasonably well too.
I haven’t finished working my way through them just yet, my computer is ancient and temperamental at the best of times, which makes processing photos a slow and frustrating task; but I am mostly happy with what I have worked through so far, and what I have given the family.
Would I do it again? Maybe… It really depends on who was asking and what they were after as an end result, and they’d need to be well aware of my NOT PROFESSIONAL status. And… I might need to put a new computer on the wishlist before any of that was to happen; but let’s not get started on wishlists, we could be here until next week.