I have strategically avoided most family photo shoot requests because of their ability to turn very tacky, very quickly. The first one I ever shot, the sweet family did the matching-shirts-on-the-beach thing, and wanted only very posed, very smiling photos - and my creative drive died a little bit in that two hour shoot.
That's not what this is about. Just like the way anyone should be photographed - whether it be your love, your event, whatever - it should be about the way it feels. It should not be about brand new outfits and plastic smiles.
I am always inspired by the extraordinarily beautiful, gentile, talented and kind Yan Palmer's family photos - she captures families the way they feel - even if that means photos of kids making a mess, hiding behind parents, hair all in faces. And they are so special. And real.
Yan's beautiful work has inspired me to believe that family photos CAN be creative, special, and fun for me, too. And they can, and are! I've photographed a few sessions lately with incredible families who aren't afraid to express their silliness, their unconditional love, their intimacy, whatever it is that they posses and emulate, and how important that is in making up who they are - and it translates to photos. Which is not to say that this is all my magic by any means - I've just been blessed with awesome families that GET IT.
Below are some favs from a sweet shoot in Providence with a wonderfully kind and silly little crew (thanks for making my day, Masha, Fish, Pax + little Kai!)
So here's the deal: I'll stop avoiding your requests for family photos, I promise I'm no longer scared of them! But, don't be afraid to be silly, be emotional, or show what makes your family YOUR family. That's the coolest part about your little tribe, it's not always plastic smiles on the beach. It's messy, difficult, doesn't always stay put or listen, it's beautiful, full of the realest love you can imagine, generates genuine smiles, fills your heart to the point of nearly bursting. Show that, and you'll have real magic.