I’ve mentioned it before, and I know this won’t be the last time I bring it up: I love photographing families at their own homes. With newborns, it’s almost a given that we will photograph them at home, but as children get older, most families decide to venture outside the house to a park or beach for their family portraits. I can understand that — but I want to make a passionate case for shooting family portraits at home, too.
This photograph is one of my favorite family pictures to date. It’s of our good friends the Blumes — the same people I’m in China with right now! — and I love it in part because of the moment it captures, and in part because it gives you a glimpse of what life is really like at their home. Family portraits at home are less about whether you have a perfectly decorated house and all about what your life is like as a family.
It doesn’t matter if your bedroom furniture is mismatched or if your dining room is filled with toys instead of a formal table. It doesn’t matter if your lawn is spotty or if your curtains are actually bed sheets draped over a rod. Your home doesn’t have to be the most aesthetically perfect backdrop. It’s still the backdrop of your everyday life, and I’m willing to bet money that you experience some truly beautiful moments inside your imperfectly beautiful home. If you experience beautiful moments, we’ll be able to capture beautiful moments. I promise.
Some of my favorite portraits have been created in very small rooms that aren’t Pinterest-ready, but they’re home. They’re where life happens. There where you’re already making memories. And that makes them the perfect location for capturing your family the way you are.
Family portraits at home are low-key and relaxing.
Need a bathroom break? Done. Kids want a snack? Easy. The weather is iffy? Doesn’t matter, because you have the entire house at your disposal in addition to the lawn outside.
Doing portraits at home is easy on children, who are surrounded by the familiar (and their toys and food), and easy on parents who don’t have to worry about packing the kids and their necessities up and trucking to a park. And when subjects are relaxed for their portraits, their portraits are more natural, fun, and an enjoyable experience.
Family portraits at home capture a family’s personality in ways portraits at a less-intimate location cannot.
While I love photographing families out enjoying nature on an adventure together, I love seeing how families live inside their own homes. There’s a different flavor to every family, and people behave differently at home than when they’re out in the world. This is especially true of shy children who hang back and cling to their parents when they’re out in public, but who blossom into bubbly personalities in the safety of their family’s cozy little home.
Family portraits at home preserve memories of everyday life.
One of my favorite aspects of at-home photography is that we get the chance to record what really goes on in a family’s life. What games does the family play together? What do the kids like to do when they’re alone? What does family meal time look like? These are all things that can be incorporated into family portraits at home. This gets labeled family documentary photography and is quite different from traditional portraiture, but it’s what I want to capture when I work with families at their homes, in addition to getting a traditional portrait or several.
Family portraits at home are additionally meaningful because of the location.
While I’m all for choosing scenic locations for gorgeous portraits (and do it often), there’s something especially sentimental about photographs taken in the place where you live as a family. Home will be at the center of your children’s earliest memories. Home will be at the center of many of your fondest memories. A few caveats:
There are times when portraits at home won’t be the best fit for the type of natural light photography: if your home is very dark with very few, small windows; if you’re undergoing a home renovation project; if your current home is a place that you can’t wait to leave behind; or if your home is a place filled with painful memories, getting outside the house for family portraits is probably the right call. But under most circumstances, documenting your family at home is a great idea — and something I would love to do with you!