It’s that time of year again!

You know…when you stuff your family into matching outfits and haul them outside for the obligatory “Family Photo in Khaki and White Button-Downs”. You know the one, where you’re standing (or sitting) in posed formation, in some field of tall, beige grass, or in front of a willow tree at the local park. Where you’re all forcing smiles, because you’d rather be somewhere else, and you feel so…fake.

Check out your Facebook feed over the next month or so. You’ll see what I’m talking about. Fall is when families pull it together to get their portraits done, in time for holiday greeting cards and photographic evidence that they survived another year without deviating from society’s expectations.

“We’re wholesome! We are a UNIT! We’re auditioning as a family to model for life insurance ads!”

What about capturing your family as a group of living, breathing individuals?

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I think portraiture should capture personality. I’m interested in helping my clients bring depth and dimension to their family portraits, especially when I can buck tradition, and I’ve got a few ideas for your next portrait session.

Imagine a tableau in your own kitchen that recreates your family life at breakfast, with a little bit of an over-the-top, sitcom-themed punch. Your toddler, sitting in her booster chair, bejeweled with a rainbow of cereal bits. Your wife, decked out in her power suit, reading The Economist with one hand while the other pours orange juice from the iconic glass pitcher (I mean, really…who actually uses those?). Even better, the juice is pouring onto the table, missing the glass by inches.

Or picture your husband, spatula in hand, staring up at the ceiling in wonder as a pancake threatens to fall from the ceiling, as your daughter, decked out in her volleyball outfit, bolts for the door.

Your son, seated at the table, flips through a textbook as he sticks out a foot to trip her.

A bit too much? Maybe, but think of how you can incorporate your home and your everyday life in your family portraits, capturing a slice of life that really represents who you are as a family. Think of how you’ll remember brainstorming your family portrait tableau, and what you’ll learn from one another as you come up with ideas.

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Poke fun at tradition by formally draping yourselves on and around the living room sofa, but rather than wearing your Sunday best, ham it up with slightly exaggerated examples of your true-to-life wardrobes. Full-on hockey gear? Check. Your four-year-old in that Transformers costume you can’t get him out of? Oh, yeah. The family dog chewing on unauthorized footwear? Priceless. Put it all together, with some coasterless beverages on the side table and a sock or two balled up on the floor, and you’ll have a family portrait that says, “We’re freaking human, not Stepford cyborgs, so suck it!”

When you’ve got a little imagination and the right photographer (me) you can take advantage of professional lighting and technical savvy to turn your home into a Vanity Fair tableau with a Simpsons twist.

Just think: When you share your family photo on Facebook, rather than fielding “Oh, how tall Junior is getting, last year he only came up to the lowest knot on that oak tree!” or “What a pretty (bland) family!” comments, you’ll have a hopping queue of responses, likely relating to your family as human beings. Let your family portraits inspire your friends and family to reconnect with you! Engage them, don’t bore them to death!

Nobody cares whether you’re able to coordinate wardrobes, surgically part hair and smile as if you’ve dosed your breakfasts with Xanax. Show off the life you’ve built together, and give your friends a peek into your dreams.

Are the wheels turning in your head? Plotting and scheming?

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Ask your spouse and kids for their ideas, if you’re stumped. Wouldn’t it be easier to get your family on board with the portrait session if they’re involved in the creative process? Don’t you want to know their suggestions for your outfit? (Be brave, and prepare to be surprised!) Stage your family portrait with elements of your personality, and you’ll create memories as you preserve them.

The best part of my job as a wedding and portrait photographer is getting to know my clients, and capturing what makes them…well, them. So let’s get to brainstorming so we can come up with a creative, fun family photo shoot that puts the Khaki Klones to shame!

Click here to get in touch with Marcus Anthony and create some family memories!