The Art of Family Portraits.


OCTOBER 26, 2009

I’ve been looking through photo albums that my mother assembled as a young woman, before she was married. There are many wonderful pictures of her, her siblings and her friends. Some are well done technically, but many suffer from the problems I’m sure you find in your own family photo albums – the blurred, out of focus images, the pictures shot a mile away from the main subject, or photos made under poor lighting conditions. While snapshots like these have their charms, the pictures I treasure most are the beautiful enlargements of family portraits that were done by a professional studio. I’ve posted one here of my grandparents and their first three children, my mother being the youngest. The images are crisp, and they are lit well. These pictures are more than a family record – they are photographic art.


From my father’s family, the only portrait that exists is one taken of his parents when they were married. There are a few snapshots of my dad and his brothers as adults, taken with buddies on army bases after they each enlisted during World War II – nothing of them as children, though, and nothing that shows them with their parents and their older sister. My dad took pictures of me and my siblings when we were growing up, but we never went as a family to a studio for a portrait sitting or had a professional photographer come to our home. We have nothing to compare with the elegant images that exist of my mother and her family. Snapshots that sit in a box, but no art to hang on a wall.


As the holidays approach and you plan for family gatherings, think about the value of having a professionally done portrait. Whether your dress up in your Sunday best or each wear an outfit that best reflects your personality, make it an occasion – a favored memory, not a chore. A professional photographer will provide many options for how to preserve your image, whether by having your portrait matted and framed or put onto a canvas enlargement to be enjoyed now and for generations to come.

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