It is summer, at least for a little while longer and that means family picnics and reunions! I love it when families hire me to come in and capture their reunion or picnic. There are very few times when entire families get together and what a better way to celebrate family than by having a professional photographer document the people and the generations interacting.
However there are some things to keep in mind that can make everyone comfortable in front of the camera and insure you have amazing images that you and your family will treasure for years to come.
First; Let people know a photographer will be there especially if you are going to have more traditional group portraits. I am a photographer because without a doubt this is what I was made for but a serendipity of being the photographer is I don't ever have to be "in" the photo. I know many people are just like me and hate to have pictures taken of them (I believe mostly because of bad photographers. A good photographer knows poses that can take lbs off, know lighting that will make you look awesome and can do it all while ensure you are having a fun time). If people know there is going to be a portrait they dress (or bring a change of clothes) that make them feel comfortable and confidant being in the image. I always feel sad when I hear someone say "if I only knew I would have worn something different. I don't want my picture taken like this".
Second; Give a list of the more formal image groupings to your photographer ahead of time. Let your photographer now how many family groupings you want and who is in them (I like having names because I feel more polite calling people by their names). It makes the portraits go faster so everyone can get back to the important thing...eating!
Third; Let people know the time when the portraits are taking place and plan it early during the event. This makes sure everyones is there and then frees them (especially parents with children) up to do whatever activity they would like to do with out worrying about getting sweaty or dirt.
Fourth; Let the photographer do what they do best. I alway welcome ideas and advice. I truly enjoy having my clients input and thoughts. However capturing events and families is what I do. I personally study other photographers and photographic techniques and continually look at how I can create incredible images. When you allow a photographer freedom to practice their craft you will receive images you didn't even know were possible.
Lastly: When you hire a photographer to take pictures you hire a photographer to take the pictures. That sounds really simple but yet is a very important point. I know everyone wants to take pictures and that is very important. However during any formal portraits you might want to ask people to refrain from shooting the same time as the photographer. Why? First, I will never tell someone that they can't take a picture, that's not my place. My place is to help people preserve and enjoy the memories that happen on that day for years to come. However especially with children they get confused on who to look at and most often look at the family member because they know them. Also people generally become tired staying in the same spot while waiting for everyone else to finish snapping away and by the time the photographer has their chance to take the image the moment is lost. Another great thing to keep in mind is flashes from other cameras can mess up the professional photographers lighting settings and then the images you invested in don't turn out properly. Professional photographers are not cheap why have your investment waisted?