I’m not a wedding photographer…although I do photograph weddings. I’m also not a portrait photographer…but I make portrait photos too. And I seldom photograph sporting events…but I will even do that from time-to-time.
Many think photographers can photograph everything. And while I’m sure I CAN photograph everything, whether or not I SHOULD is another matter altogether. That’s simply not the case. It takes much skill, training, and effort to be a professional wedding photographer for example. And while any photographer will generally do well in other situations, it simply is not their forte and are often learning as they go. Such is the case when I’m asked to do family or group portraits.
I have never been trained in the art of posing humans. And trust me, people train for that. It is an art form. Now, I can and often do well in those situations. It’s something I have been studying myself. And the customers are always pleased with the results, but I am my own worst critic and I am often very harsh on myself when I’m done. Which is exactly how it is supposed to be.
When I first started making group shots years ago I would encourage the people in the group portraits to “act goofy” on the last shot of the day. By that time in the shoot I had already developed a rapport with them so encouraging them to act goofy and do something fun and strange was easier than if I had asked them to do the same thing at the start of the shoot. What’s more, they are often glad to have the whole photo shoot completed so it’s an opportunity for them to rejoice, I think.
What I found, though, was that shot more often than not ended p being everyone’s favorite photograph from the day. Do other group photographers do the same? I don’t know. Some do, I’m sure but I guess I haven’t seen a lot of those results, though. Maybe because they don’t look very professional? Maybe because the shots are often so private? I don’t know.
I think the reason I like them is because that shot often is a window into the soul of those in the photo. Their spontaneous actions show their personality. And I always hope that’s something the family of those in the photo can cherish for many years to come.
Below are some examples of me coaxing families and groups into acting goofy for me. I hope they put a smile on your face like they did me when I first saw them.