With Family Day approaching, it is a great time to reflect on the importance of family and the importance of getting professional family portraits throughout all the stages of life. I photograph many extended family portraits, and they are always a lot of fun for myself and also for the families involved. It is an opportunity for the whole family, grandparents, parents and grandchildren to spend some quality time together. Extended family portrait sessions are important because many times we often focus on simply getting portraits of the kids as they grow. I know I am guilty of this and I am a professional photographer! I have way more portraits of my daughter than I do of our family or our extended family together. I have been thinking about this for awhile and knew I had to do something about it. In fact, my gift to both of our families this past Christmas was an extended family portrait session which we will photograph this summer.
It is important to photograph the extended family together so that our kids and their kids will have the portraits and memories of their entire family. The other reason that we need professional family portraits is to preserve our history through archival printed photographs. All too often, I hear of people losing all of their family snapshots because of a computer or hard drive that failed and the photos were never printed. In my studio, I have always honoured the value of the printed photograph. In fact, I work very closely with my digital retoucher, Amber, as well as with my professional labs to ensure that each print that goes home with a client meets my approval. Achieving a great print is not as easy as sending a digital file off to the lab. When I started my business in 2003, I actually printed all of my black and white portraits myself in my darkroom. I would spend hours working on achieving perfect prints. Now, our time processing the images is done on a computer using Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop. We calibrate our screens weekly, assess colour shifts or shifts in screen brightness. We ensure that our production room has neutral walls and consistent amount of ambient light to ensure that we can consistently produce the best prints possible from the digital files. I continually communicate with our labs to see if there are issues with density, saturation, white balance or contrast in our custom prints. My digital retoucher Amber individually custom retouches each portrait before it is even ready to send to the lab. If we get a print back that does not meet my professional standard, we call the lab to discuss, make adjustments if the issue is on our end and then we send it to be printed again at no extra cost or inconvenience to my clients. All of this care and attention to detail and time dedicated to producing the absolute best printed image is how I serve my clients and how I ensure that their family portraits will not only look beautiful hanging in their home, but will also last a lifetime.
When I photograph an extended family portrait session, we typically start with the full family together and then break it down into individual families. For those that are interested, I also love to end with some documentary photography of everyone just hanging out and being together. I love to end these sessions by capturing the moments in between, the unposed moments, the moments of time simply spent together.