Thursday, April 3, 2014

Phenomenal Tip: How to DIY Your Family Portrait

I love the challenge that DIY projects require. I am generally crafty, and really love and enjoy creating with my hands. In fact, I have shared several DIY projects here on the blog.  As such, taking photos of the my family is something that I enjoy doing also.
Catching her here in a pensive mood.
Growing up, my dad would take our annual family portraits. I don't even remember a time when we had our portraits taken by a professional photographer in a studio setting, save for my own wedding. Our make-shift studio has always been our living room, with no props, save for the smile on our faces.

When it was my turn to have my own family, I continued with the tradition of DIY family portraits. BUT, I ventured beyond the comfort and familiar walls of our living room.  Mine were "location shoots," - ambisyosa! I plan my "shoots" whenever my family has to go out -of-town, that way we do not incur additional expenses for our "location shoots." Outdoor shots that maximize natural light always make the best photos.  The backdrop that nature offers is simply incomparable, and makes any photo more beautiful than it already is. But, the Manila heat also makes for fussy kids and sweaty faces. So it is imperative that the adults bring a BIG dose of patience and humor.
Here I am lugging around everything: tripod, DSLR, bag full of our personal effects.
When I say "DIY family portrait," please understand that I use the word "portrait"loosely here, and that the operative word here is basically "DIY" tee-hee-hee!... Having said that the output is obviously not as professional-looking as when you hire a professional photographer. But I am always happy with the results because when I look at the photos at a later time, I am always reminded of the fun times we had while we took those photos.

It is also fun to do a "photo series."  Here we are at the exact same spot three years apart.  But the greatest challenge here is that I dared to wear the same pair of denim shorts.  Achieve, kasya pa din! Yay! Hahaha!
Taken in 2010
Taken in 2013.  How much my kids have grown! J is taller than me already! 

What you need:
a camera with self-timer and a tri-pod, or a willing friend  with a good eye
a nice location
a LOT of patience
everyone's cooperation

But wether you go the DIY route or hire a professional, here are some tips that I have picked up along the way:
1.  make sure that good vibes abound.  Make sure that everyone is well-fed, and anticipate all of their needs.  If someone complains of being hungry I have small snacks in my bag, there's water in case anyone gets thirsty, change of clothes, sunnies, sunblock, fan, practically anything and everything.  A happy mood always make the photo session easier on everyone.
I have everything in this bag! Sunblock, hats, accessories, water bottles, snacks, shades
2.  plan coordinating outfits.  Everyone doesn't have to be in one color; instead, choose one neutral color and coordinate with one or two accent colors.
here's a sample of coordinated clothing options in a subdued color
A coordinating choice in vibrant colors, perfect for outdoor shoots.
3. plan your shoot around the time and place where natural light is abundant.
Sunrise and sunset can give your photos different effects.  Decide which one you prefer.
4. If you are planning for an outdoor shoot, and your family members tend to sweat a lot, bring spare shirts to change into. Also, bring a towel or handkerchief to dab sweat off the face, if needed. 
A good photo, except for the beads of sweat forming on her forehead.
There's also lots of  opportunities to take candid photos since you are already someone they know very well, it won't take too much to get your kids to smile naturally in front of the camera.


Try doing your own photo shoot, the memories alone are worth it already!  Have you tried doing your own family portrait?  Was is a wonderful experience for you, as well?