Essential Family Portrait Photography EquipmentThe Family Portrait business is its own niche world in the photography industry. While it's not the most glamorous field to specialize in, it can be very rewarding both financially and emotionally. Customers come to you to capture happy moments in their lives that they will cherish forever. Since family portraits are specialized there is some specific equipment you will need.
For The Studio
Aside from the obvious camera and tripod, you will also need lights. Whether it is constant light or flash, is a matter of preference. You're going to want a powerful light that will be raised high in the air. The light needs to be far away from the subjects, so it won't distract them. You are dealing with parents and kids, not professional actors or models. Your goal is to direct attention to your lens.
There are two reasons you want the lights up in the air. For lighting purposes, the beam shining down will cast shadows on the floor while leaving their faces looking nice with minimal contrast. This keeps the portrait looking pretty and free of harsh light. Another reason to have the lights up high is so it won't blind anyone.
Aside from the basic light and camera package, you're going to need backdrops to create some variety in your portraits. Five to ten backdrops are a good start. You want to be able to offer your customer variety and have something for everyone whether it is a nice gray gradient or a winter wonderland. Remember that you're in a competitive business. If you're not offering it, then someone else will be getting your prospective customer. Your backgrounds are what make your portraits unique.
You should also keep some generic wardrobe costumes and props on hand too. Some parents want a photo of them in Santa outfits with their kids in elf costumes. Keep enough materials on site where you have something that can appeal to everyone. This can be a delicate inventory to balance because the line between prop and junk is blurry. You could have something unique laying around for months and then win over a prospective customer who thinks it would look cute if their kid was holding it.
Also, keeps some toys around because ninety percent of your customers are going to have babies and small children. Baby toys are a definite must because you're going to be shooting a lot of babies and need to get their attention some how.
For After the Shoot
Because the business is so competitive you need to offer one-stop shopping. You definitely need to have a computer with photo editing software on site. You can either e-mail the proofs to your customer or put all the images on a CD for them to go through. Most people want photos for their frames at home. It's more profitable for to own a printer on your site that can accomplish this rather then send it out to another party.
Last but not least, some people want to have special books made, especially when their children are very young. You should have the software on hand to be able to design the books and have your client approve them. Because these requests are rare, you are better off sending the books to a printer rather than investing in the equipment.
So aside from cameras, lights, and editing software, you want to have a decent selection of backdrops and props to appeal to a large customer base as much as possible.
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