Have you thought about trying to take your own family portraits outdoors? Paying for a professional can prove to be quite costly, but with a few simple tips and tricks, you can do them yourself for the cost of film and/or printing.
The most important element of great photography is the lighting. When taking outdoor portraits you want to avoid the midday sun as it will produce photographs with harsh lighting. If you do find yourself with bright sunlight try heading for a shady area such as under a tree. If you lack the shading you can also try using a polarizer in combination with an nd (or natural density) filter. Overcast days provide the best lighting for your portraits. However, early-morning/late-afternoon sun would work well.
Location, location, location. Where you take your shots is an important key factor to great photography. You want to choose a spot with minimal clutter in the background. You want to avoid a location that will provide distraction from the main subject(s). If you do find yourself with a cluttered background, consider shooting a close up. You may also adjust your depth of field to make the distracting objects in the background out of focus and therefor less distracting. I cannot tell you how many good photographs are ruined by poles sticking out from behind someone’s head or something else of the like. You do not have to be limited by your options however. A simple solid colored painted wall, a field of grass, a pathway lined with trees, the ocean, rocky cliffs, the possibilities are endless. Do some research ahead of time, and you will find that you have many great options.
Composition. While this is considered to be in the top three most important factors of photography, you need not be afraid of this word. Composing the photograph can be a load of fun instead. Of course there are the traditional group portraits, where everyone is smiling at the camera in the center of the photograph. While there is nothing wrong with taking that approach I find that it can be a bit boring. Be creative! Say you have a beautiful tree with many low lying twisting limbs. You can have a child sitting on each one. Take shots at different angles. Get low and shoot upwards using a clear blue sky as the background. The possibilites are endless; have fun with it!
Lastly, be prepared! Make sure that you have everything you may need/want for your photo shoot. Make sure you pack your tripod so that you will not be searching around for a spot to place your camera when you want to include yourself in a shot. Filters are fun but also very useful, experiment! Bring a sheet or a blanket for your subjects to sit on. Bring along a few fun “accessories” to include as props in your photos-a lollipop for a child, an umbrella, etc.
So as you can see, doing your own outdoor portraits can be fun and not-all-that difficult. Happy shooting!