July 20

3 Critical Elements You Need to Fully Enjoy Your Family Portraits

Portrait Info


Family portraits are a wonderful thing. They can really enhance our lives and our relationships. However, digital photography has changed the nature of family portraits and has introduced problems that many people haven’t noticed.

The Problems

Family portraits used to be a record of our familes, however, digital photography has made that more temporary. With digital files lasting an average of 5 to 10 years and most printing processes lasting 8 to 12 years, special things need to be done to have our portraits last.

We used to display family portraits in our homes more. Digital photography has turned our family portraits into something we share on social media but pay less attention to displaying them in our home.

Digital photography has added technology that has made newer photographers lazy. They make it possible to get an OK image without knowing the skills of photography. There are a lot of families who share horror stories with me about having to deal with unskilled photographers.

There Are 3 Essential Elements for a Complete Famly Portrait.

  1. You need to get the right images
  2. You need to be able to regularly enjoy your portraits
  3. You need to be able to preserve your portraits for future generations

The current trends in portrait photography generally only address one of these three elements. Today’s photographers are trying to get good images. However, most of today’s photographers do not address displaying your images or preserving them.

#1 You Need to Get The Right Images

The first step of the family portrait is to get images you like and would want to display. It is our faces that endear us to each other. When you look at a person’s face you begin to create a relationship with that person.

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Candid images, where you don’t see faces, can have a neat feel but the people become interchangeable. You could replace the people in the image with any other people and the feeling would be the same. When you see faces, you create a relationship with specific people.

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The other thing to consider is what type of images will you want to display in your home? Your portraits are a representation of your family that allows you to enjoy them every day. You don’t need to photograph every possible combination of the group, but it is nice to have meaningful groupings that help tell your family’s story.

#2 You Need to Be Able to Regularly Enjoy Your Portraits

So, step one is complete, you have the images you like. Now, the problem is if you don’t display them well, you’ll never look at them. Looking at your family portrait is never on your to-do list for the day. If you are going to enjoy the images they need to be displayed in the right places and at the right size that will allow you to enjoy them as you go throughout your normal day.

Display Them in the Correct Place

There are certain areas of the home that you look at more often than other areas. Most people don’t realize this and haven’t paid attention to where those areas are, but they are there. Some people choose the place to display their family portrait but don’t realize that they never face that wall on a normal day. Any time they are in the room their back is to it.

Display Them at the Right Size

Once you have the right wall you then need to choose the correct size. Remember, our faces are what endear us to each other. As a general rule, the edges of the “enjoyment zone” of a family portrait are at the point where it is difficult to see the details of the people’s expression. For example, if you begin to see the expression details at 10 feet away, that is the “enjoyment zone” of that portrait. When you are further away you only see the shape of the family but can’t enjoy the individual people.

#3 You Need to Be Able to Preserve Your Portraits for Future Generations

The last element is to preserve your images. Look at it this way, as you have family portraits you are creating potential documentation of your family’s history. It is important for that documentation to be created, but it also needs to be curated and taken care of to last for multiple generations.

Insist on high-quality prints

In order to do this, you need to start with an archival print. The average digital file will last 5 to 10 years. Most publicly available printers use dye-sublimation printing which is scheduled to last only 8 to 12 years. A high-quality Giclee print can last over 100 years. The process you use for your portraits makes a big difference.

Store your prints well

Once you have an archival quality print it is relatively easy to store them so they stay nice.

  1. They need to be protected from excess light – UV radiation can attack the image as well as the materials.
  2. Protect them from extremes of temperature and humidity – Generally, if you keep them in your house this will do the trick.
  3. Protect them from particulate damage – dust can latch on to your prints and permanently damage them. Wrap them in craft paper to prevent this.
  4. Protect them from physical damage – bumps and scrapes will damage your prints. Place a piece of cardboard on either side of your print. Make sure the cardboard is at least an inch larger than your print on all sides. This will protect your image from most threats.

Fulfilling Its Full Potential

Take any one of these 3 elements away from your family portrait and it will not be fulfilling its full potential. Many people don’t complete these elements either because they don’t know about them or they get overwhelmed trying to do them on their own.

Remember, we are here to help and to make life as easy as possible.

Never Pay a Family Portrait Session Fee Again

Each year we do around 20 free family portrait session days.  We call those Family Portrait Photo Safaris.  These are very popular days among our regular clients.

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