• Family Photo Survival Guide: Tips For the Trenches

    September 26, 2014

    A few weeks ago, I had the privilege to create a new family portrait of my mentor. It was a lot of fun and we got great a lot of beautiful images of his family. Afterwards I said to him, “Thank you for letting me do this for you. I had fun and hope it wasn’t too stressful for you all!”

    I was more or less joking a little bit and he replied, “It’s always stressful getting a family portrait,  but once it’s over, life is back to normal. Thank you for doing it!”

    This got me thinking a little bit. My mentor, who was a professional portrait photographer in Las Vegas for over 30 years, said it is “always stressful getting a family portrait” created. If in 30 years he could not reconcile the experience to not be stressful, have I been fooling myself? Is getting a family portrait always a fate worse than death for most people? The answer is no! I have photographed many families who anticipated the experience to be unpleasant and they later complimented me saying it was “not painful” or it was “so much fun!” This experience is what has driven me to write these few tips for preparing to have a more fun experience while getting your family portraits done this year!

    1) Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.

    Really, I can’t stress this one enough. Planning your clothing choices shouldn’t be left to the day of your session. When I photograph families, we discuss clothing choices in detail to make sure everyone is prepared. (Check out this previous post for a few clothing tips!) The families that prepare properly for the clothing always have a higher quality portrait than those who don’t. If you are going to shop for new clothes, try to buy them a few days or even a week in advance to your session. One less thing on your mind will definitely take weight off your shoulders on your session day. Call your photographer and get their input while shopping if you have any questions.

    las vegas family photography


    2. Keep the Peace.

    Coordinating schedules, making sure kids are well groomed and don’t have chocolate on their faces, getting your make up on and loading everyone into the car, etc. is a stressful reality of parenthood, adult life and getting set for a new family portrait. It might not always be possible, but I recommend trying your best to keep a calm demeanor through it all. The saying “if mom’s not happy, nobody’s happy” is quite true. The energy of the family is largely dictated by the mother’s mood and the father’s mood. If parents are stressed, annoyed, angry, or anything along those lines, it transfers over the rest of the family. As a pro, I can’t tell you how much more difficult this makes my work out to be. I’m thinking this: “They are paying me for the portraits of their dreams–how am I going to do that when everyone is so upset?” In the past, I’ve still gotten incredible results because of my own directional and communication skills that was able to change the state of thinking of the subjects but really, it is just such a nicer experience for everyone if a little patience and calmness is observed. You won’t regret it.

    hemenway park family photo in boulder city

    3. Feed the Family. Especially the Kids.

    Eat a good meal or even just a snack before the session. Don’t eat until you’re stuffed or anything along those lines (it might make you uncomfortable during the session) but eat something that will keep you from being lethargic or grumpy. Kids almost always photograph better after they have had a snack. It is also a good idea to bring a few bottles of water and non-messy snacks along with you to the session to further hold kids over until the next meal.


    4. Trust the Photographer (Me).

    I know it isn’t everyone’s favorite thing in the world to be photographed. I understand, I really do! I also know that you might be a little (or very) nervous. This is normal, don’t worry. Unless you are a professional super model, I’m guessing you are going to need some direction. Please understand that not every pose is going to feel super comfortable. Actually, most people look terrible in a portrait if they are sitting how they normally are when they watch t.v. or stand how they do when they are in line at Cafe Rio. It might not feel wonderful but remember, from the camera/my viewpoint, I must flatter each and every subject as best I possibly can. That means tipping heads, leaning bodies, bending legs, positioning hands and hair, all while making sure everyone looks slim, the clothing choices are clustered together the best way, paying attention to what lighting will work best….there’s a lot to consider! What’s most important is that YOU LOOK YOUR BEST. That’s my job and I do it well. It might not be how you normally stand or sit but for the portrait, it will all make sense when you see it. Trust me.

    high key family photo las vegas white background

    5. Repeat After Me, ‘This is More Than a Picture”

    What do I mean by that exactly? Don’t I take pictures for a living? No. I create portraits for a living. There’s a difference! A picture is something less important; something fleeting and temporary. It is on your Twitter newsfeed one day and gone the next, banished to the badlands of the internet. These are pictures you pass by in advertisements, social media, and the selfies you see see on a daily basis. They are just filler. A portrait is something else. It is special. It is both genealogical documentation as well custom photographic art for your decor. It grows in value day after day and becomes one of your most treasured possessions. In regards to a family portrait, it represents the feelings you have for each other, the struggles you have overcome, the personality traits you all have and the hard work that is put into the family by each family member. Shouldn’t it be more than a picture? I always think in the long term when it comes to your family portrait–it has to be something you absolutely love and it has to become something your future family members who inherit it are going to love. I put a lot of pressure on myself, don’t I?

    las vegas silluette family photo trees sky

    6. Be Thankful.

    Be thankful you live in a time where we can create photographic art. Be grateful that you can give this gift to you and your kids. Be happy that it is going to look out of this world! Just be happy. 🙂

    mom and son and dog portrait outside las vegas photography


    I hope that was helpful to you. Please give me a call at (702)809-9763 and let’s plan your next family photo! Oh! Also, my NEW website is up! Check it out here: TNGphoto.com

  • “What goes on in that family photographer brain of yours, Nate?”

    September 19, 2014

    It almost feels like fall will never get here. Here is is, mid-September and the thermometer still says over 100. It’s interesting to think that in other parts of the country, people are readying for cooler weather, snow and bundling up indoors. Here in Vegas, we’re getting excited for the opposite– to go outside again without dreading it! I find myself wondering about random things like this all the time when I finally have a free second in my day. In my personal reflection I try to have on a daily basis, I’ll wonder:

    – “Hundred of years ago, no one never knew how fun a roller coaster can be.”

    – “…or ice cream.”

    “…or Charmin Ultra Soft Toilet Paper.”

    The list goes on and on. But while my “me time” thinking is probably not the most complex thought process around, I do like to sit and think and wonder. In particular, I often try to identify weak areas of my life that I can strengthen somehow. I look at all areas of my life that I can think of and focus on improvement. It’s hard to do this at times because I think we all secretly like to hope that there is no room for improvement and if anything in life isn’t right, there’s no possible way we ourselves are to blame. Unfortunately, anyone who believes this is fooling themselves enormously.


    “So, Nate, how does all of this self help preaching relate to your photography?”

    I think all I’m doing is attempting to explain a little bit how I think. I do love to joke around, laugh, find humor in the world, etc. but when I’m alone, I enjoy thinking and analyzing my day. It’s just how my mind works for whatever reason. Now, onto the photography aspect of all of this! I have a very systematic though process that goes into my work. Here are a few inner workings of my Las Vegas photographer brain when it comes to family portrait. 🙂



    When I photograph a family, I first find the motivation behind the portrait. Is it to replace a previous portrait? Has the family never had a family portrait before? Is someone in the portrait sick or terminally ill? See, it’s so much more than just a picture that you pass by on Facebook or Instagram in a few seconds. This is the most meaningful portrait I create! This is something that gets passed down generations (eventually) but before that, it becomes a decorative work of art for the family’s home. IT MUST LOOK TOP NOTCH! My approach to the family portrait is that every single person in the image must look fantastic. When I create it I have to ask myself, “If I took everyone out of the image except for the mom, would she look good? If I took everyone out of the image except for the dad, would he look good? etc.” This is an important factor for me to consider when creating a meaningful family portrait.

    las vegas outdoor family photographer

    On top of all that, there’s the clothing. Now, I really have no control what people wear but I do make it known what I think would be best for them to wear! Is it necessary for everyone to match? No, of course not. Some people hate the look of everyone in the same clothing while others love it. What is essential, however, is keeping the clothes all a similar tonality. For example, browns, greens, dark reds, and other earth tones coordinate wonderfully together. Throw in one person in a white t-shirt and now the portrait has lost something. It has lost its finesse and color harmony. That white shirt is now the dominant thing for your eyes to see and steals attention away from the family’s faces (which is most important above all else). Here’s an example:

    las vegas family photography

    Now, it’s not the end of the world that the man here wore a white shirt but take notice how much the bright white grabs your attention  from the faces. It’s the little things that make BIG differences!

    (By the way, when choosing colors to wear, consider what color your walls are in your home. Coordinating clothing to be harmonious with the walls in your home might add a special touch to your rooms.)


    Another thing I think a lot about when creating a family portrait is whether it should be scenic, showcasing the family within a landscape or setting or whether the portrait should be more tightly cropped or more up close. These considerations are determined on the fly as well as in the planning stages before the session. For example, if a client absolutely knows they need a 30×40 mounted canvas in a frame above their mantle that’s in their parlor but the room is made to sit 4 or 5 people, having an extreme close up of faces might be the wrong decision for that location in their home and albeit somewhat creepy having gigantic faces that are 5 or 6 times life size to the actual people! Sometimes, a large portrait like this can benefit from including a beautiful setting that is special to the family or shows the family’s personality.

    las vegas photography studio

    las vegas family portraits

    The last thing I’ll mention about the family portrait is that I do not view it as just another picture. It’s not a picture. We see pictures everyday in advertisements, text messages, snap chat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, e-mail, on TV, and the list goes on. Pictures, however well done or not, are usually intensely temporary, fleeting and forgotten. A portrait is made so the family can see, remember and reminisce over great moments that would otherwise be forgotten, ignored, or brushed aside. A family portrait (not picture) is both art and genealogical documentation. It is a captured memory as well as a statement of personality, achievement or artistic expression. It is not something I take lightly and never will as long as I am a professional photographer. The family portrait, most of all, displays the people who are the most important possessions in one’s life. It showcases their best qualities so that they can have constant reminders of who they are, where they come from, and why they work so intensely diligent everyday. It’s all there in the family portrait and it is a great privilege to do the work for families in town. It’s a lot of fun!

    outdoor Las Vegas family portrait photographer

    Please call (702)809-9763 before my calendar fills up too much this fall and winter to get your

    own TNG family portrait. We’ll have a great time!

  • The Art of the Family

    September 11, 2014

    Families are already starting to roll in for the upcoming fall and winter seasons. The busiest time of year is about to get rolling for me and I say, bring ’em on, I’m ready! Here’s a recent family I photographed. Enjoy!


    Oh ya! My yearly Portraits in the Leaves in Zion National Park is filling up fast! We can still take a few more families. Have a look at the information below and then visit this link if you’d like to go to ZION for a unique portrait in a mind blowing landscape!

    Click here for more information.




    outdoor Las Vegas family portrait photographer


    Las Vegas family portrait photographer






    Call (702)809-9763 or visit TNGphoto.com to see more family portraits and to plan your own special portrait.

    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...