Family groups occur all year but are most prevalent around Christmas and on the occasion of weddings, because everybody naturally gathers together for these happy occasions. Many photographers encourage family photography at weddings because it’s convenient for the people and everybody is in a sentimental “family” mood. With the appropriate background you always carry with you to your weddings, the actual family group photography is very easy to do.
Some suggestions for family photography:
Photograph the largest group first and then separate the grown children’s families and photograph each family individually. Doesn’t matter if you’re in-studio or at a wedding (or are lucky and have been invited into the parents’ home for the day!) Take a helper who’s good with kids and it works fine.
To increase your potential sales (and be of great service to your customers), photograph the entire family as a single unit and then break them down into smaller units. Example: photograph the large group, then grandma and granddad alone, mom and dad alone, the kids alone, the kids with mom, the kids with dad, and each child individually. Honor any and all requests which will come up. The resulting big order will surprise you.
Family-group stuffers in your seniors’ finished work this year will increase family group sittings next year. Be sure the stuffer includes discounts for group sittings. Even though it’s a good idea, people will be more likely to do it if there’s a “hook” involved. You may want to offer a free session or a discount session and print.
Utilize your website and social networking pages to promote your family business. Link the seniors you have photographed to their family portraits. The same is true in photographing children.
Be sure you display your very latest and best group portraits on your studio walls. Directory photographers don’t have this luxury. Hair styles change constantly. You need fresh prints to be current. This is very important. Gone are the days when a family group sample is good for two or three years. Change samples at least every year, if not every six months. Ask any sharp teenage girl to look at your samples, and ask her about clothing and hair styles. I guarantee you will be shocked, and you will order new samples!
If your family groups are just average, go to seminars and learn how to improve them. You need to be an excellent technician to compete in this market.
Posing-lighting seminars for family groups are available all the time. They will make money for you, perhaps hundreds of times what they actually cost.
Join a professional association such as PPA and/or your state association and any regional groups available. The benefits to you are enormous. They point you in the right direction.
Compete in regional print competitions to teach yourself what is necessary for success in family group photography. If you don’t know what you need to know, find out.
Retouching is pretty much mandatory for families, because you are dealing with several generations, which requires finished prints to be polished products. Gone are the days when you could just snap the shutter and deliver poor proofs. This doesn’t work for studio “pros.”
Clothing consultations are desirable. This is something you must do to be worthy of your higher price!
Hang (or offer to hang) your finished wall prints in customers’ homes, and to light the prints properly by furnishing (and charging for) portrait lights which attach to frames. Some will ask for track lighting, and you may want to have it done for them by somebody who knows about this stuff better than you do, but arrange to have it done to the customers’ satisfaction at their convenience. This will start a trend toward reliance upon you as the “expert” in the area, and they will deal with the expert more than they will with any itinerant family photographer.
Diffuse, vignette, do whatever you need to do to make the best finished product you possibly can; be sure to retouch and use the best lab you can find. Fine labs don’t cost, they make money for you.
Following is a Sample letter for family groups and stuffer for seniors:
You will want to use your studio letterhead. You may want to omit any salutation. You can’t know individual circumstances and don’t want to offend anyone.
First paragraph: thank them for the senior’s business. Graduation is only one of the many important events in your life. Congratulations! Great start!
Second paragraph: stress importance of and value of recording important events in their family’s lives.
Third paragraph: sales pitch. Our studio will provide you with the chance to continue recording these important events in your lives. A family group photograph is another excellent suggestion for you, which I’m sure you’ve already considered.
Fourth paragraph: make it as easy as possible to contact you for an appointment for this important occasion. “. You can also reach us at by phone or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is a great opportunity for professional photographers to repcapture the lucrative family portrait market. Sell yourself and the quality of your service to set yourself apart and utilize the marketing tools which your already have.