Saturday, June 18, 2005

Family Portraits

If you're like most people, you probably have countless snapshots of family members stashed away in shoe boxes, photo albums, scrapbooks, or on CDs or your computer's hard drive. A majority of those pictures are likely candid shots from days at the zoo or at the park. You probably have several staged photos, too. These are the shots that you set up with family members standing by the Christmas tree, surrounded with unopened presents or standing in front of Mount Rushmore on your family vacation. But do you have a professional family portrait, either casual or formal? If not, I recommend that you get one. Before you know it, your kids will be grown up, so you will be glad to have a family portrait around to treasure.

There are many portrait studios around. You can usually find them in large department stores, such as Sears, or you can go directly to a professional photographer who has his or her own studio. The benefit of going to a portrait studio or other professional rather than doing it on your own is that they have the right equipment, experience, and knowledge of photographic techniques and principles that will help make your portrait turn out great. They also have a wide range of backgrounds and even costumes for you to use if you so desire.

Although the photographer will be more than happy to help you select a background and pose, it would be better for you to have a general idea of how you want your portrait to look. I live in Chicago, and one of the cutest family portraits I have ever seen was of my friend, her husband, and their three sons. The five of them were each wearing jeans, and also a jersey from each of the five professional sports teams. So the Cubs, Bulls, Sox, Bears, and Blackhawks were all represented, and the portrait showed how important sports is to that family. That was a great idea for a picture, and I'm sure my friend loves that shot now that her boys are all in high school and beyond. You can definitely have fun with your family portrait by doing something similar, or you can also choose to have a more formal portrait with everyone wearing suits or dresses.

Backgrounds are another matter that you need to consider. Some people prefer standard white backgrounds or the blue backgrounds that you might remember from your annual grade school pictures. Others go with themed backgrounds. I have seen family portraits centered around Disney characters, fake snow, and piles of autumn leaves. If the background is important to you, and you have a specific setting in mind, you should probably call the studio ahead of time to see whether or not they can accommodate your request. You might have to do some shopping around in this respect.

When your family portrait is finished, be sure to order the biggest print possible, splurge on a gorgeous frame, and then hang it with pride in a prominent place in your house. Your family portrait will bring a smile to your face every time you see it!

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