If family photography or portrait photography is your primary focus, there is an often-overlooked market that may be a natural fit: family reunions. Traditionally a harbinger of summer (though they can occur any time of year), reunions are the reason millions of Americans travel each year, and photographs are critical. After the corn-on-the-cob has been eaten and the water balloons tossed, photos remain to document growth and change. The fleeting nature of a family reunion gives just one chance to capture these important moments; then they are gone, perhaps forever.
Clint Thayer, photographer and owner of Focal Flame Photography, says of family reunion photography, “Those tender moments last only seconds. Being ready to see those moments and capture them does not come when you buy an expensive camera, it comes from studying your subjects and environment and crafting an effective photo – one that tells a story rather than just being a snapshot of a scene.”
When marketing your services to family reunion organizers, clearly explain the benefits of hiring a professional photographer. The advantages are many, including:• All family members will be included in the photos. Reunion planners don’t have to wonder if Uncle Bob’s cell phone camera will get the job done, and the person with the camera will not be left out of the image. • A professional photographer is an objective outsider. They notice details that might be overlooked by family members. Whether those moments are cousins swimming or grandma and grandpa holding hands, a professional comes into the family with the purpose of documenting the vibrancy of family life. • A professional photographer has the necessary equipment and expertise for taking reunion photos and editing them afterwards. An amateur simply cannot duplicate the photographer’s investment in gear or experience.
Approaching family reunions from a background in action photography, Thayer brings a unique perspective on how quickly the right moment passes and the shot is lost. “When you deal with a large group, time is golden. Everyone has places to go, things to do. For posed group shots, you have at most 45 seconds to get everyone adjusted, smiling and ready to show their stuff. Any longer and smiles fade, eyes roll, kids dart – trust is lost. Effective image composition has to happen in the tightest time constraints. It’s the photographer’s ability to connect with the subject that makes the difference.”
The photographer’s expertise continues to be valuable after the reunion, when families want to view and purchase photos. Online photo gallery and e-commerce systems offered by professional photographers mean that no matter where family members reside, they have the freedom to purchase products that meet their preferences and budget.
4 Tips to Ensure a Good Working Relationship with Family Reunion Photography Clients• Ensure that one one family member is assigned as the primary contact to work with the photographer prior to, during and after the reunion photo shoot. • Communicate early and often about the shot list. Make certain that all parties are clear about desired photo style, the number of people at the gathering and any other special information that will inform the shots. • Ask the reunion organizer to designate preferences between posed and documentary style. You might consider requesting that they assign a percentage of time desired for each mode. • Encourage the family to schedule fun activities during the shoot – a squirt gun fight between the cousins, grandpa playing checkers with a granddaughter or grandma showing her wedding dress to the younger generation.
How do you find clients? Consider partnering with Convention and Visitors Bureaus. According to a survey of 4,000 reunion organizers by Reunions magazine, 25 percent of respondents worked with a Convention and Visitors Bureau to plan their event and 82 percent planned to do so again in the future.
Emphasize to potential clients that family reunion photos do not need to be left to chance. By hiring a professional to join the celebration for a few hours, everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the reunion – and have fantastic photos afterwards.
Have you offered family reunion photography? What tips to you have to share?
About the Contributor: Focal Flame® Photography is dedicated to Art that Moves You. This multi-photographer studio offers sport event photography, commercial photography, headshot photography and videography. Focal Flame Photography was founded by Clint Thayer and is based in Madison, WI. Visit us at www.focalflame.com.