What makes a good family portrait? First thing off the top of my head is: a dog. But that's too obvious, and I hate being obvious. So, here's what I really think makes a good family portrait.
Family portraits are very difficult - whether you're photographing a family with dogs, dogs and children, just children, etc. Whenever a photographer puts multiple subjects together, each with their own size and personality and independent character, the task at hand becomes increasingly challenging. Not so challenging that it should never be done - if you hire a photographer who shys away from photographing your entire clan you know you've made the wrong choice. Photographers should accept the challenge and rise to the occasion! Because it's not any old photographer off the street who can seamlessly wrangle multiple humans and dogs to create a beautiful and moving family portrait.
Even though I am technically a 'dog photographer' my focus is never solely on my client's dogs. Our dogs don't exist in a vacuum. Without us, they are nothing. And without them, we are the same. Why hire a dog photographer to photograph your dog on a white background and call it a day? To me, that is flat. It doesn't tell a story or include any of the moving parts that make animal companionship so powerful and fascinating.
So, my recipe for a strong Dog Family Portrait:
1) Find a spot where everyone typically spends time together
2) Make sure you've got a balance of light/open shade
3) Let everyone get comfortable/situated for a good three minutes or so to create a sense of ease
4) Let things unfold naturally.
If a family is full of love, your portraits will be too.
Here are a few favorite examples of my family dog photography from the past few years.