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A ’60s Family Portrait

The first thing I need to do here is let you know that I did not take the above photo (I didn’t have a fancy studio in those days).  About eight years ago I found it among a basket of old photos in an antique store and, in what must have been a premonition of a future need, I bought it.  I certainly couldn’t explain why at the time.

Now, to the point:   a couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to do a family portrait for some friends.  I seldom get called for this kind of shoot but always enjoy it when I do.  Well, almost always.

The shoot went so well that it left me thinking I should do it more often.  I also did a lot of thinking about why it went so well.

First, and probably most importantly, Mom wanted it to go well.   She took the whole thing very seriously and made sure everyone else did too.  It was not going to be just an inconvenience during a Saturday filled with other more interesting things to do, but the major event of the day.  She also had the good sense to call in Carollen, my wife, to help with wardrobe coordination.  This led to us visiting them for dinner several days before the shoot.   This not only settled who was going to wear what but added an air of importance to the upcoming event, allowing us all to get comfortable  with each other and the idea.  Everyone parted that night looking forward to it.


The Millar Family.  The first shots were formal; compare this with the last group shot below.

It’s normal to take a while to warm up to the task at hand but we got off to a good start.  I began by doing the regular group poses so we could all get synched with each other.  Then it just got “free form” from there, as I began to do pairings and individual portraits.


I didn’t ask for this canted head trick but I liked it!


Kendra decided she wanted a formal sitting all on her own, which led to these two shots.

Kendra decided she wanted a formal sitting all on her own, which led to these two shots.








Patrick and Mom (Robyn)

Patrick and Mom (Robyn)









While shooting the above photo, Robyn (Mom) said, “David, look here!”  I turned around to see that Patrick and she had been busy setting up the next shot all on their own.   As it turned out, this was a family of stage directors, which made my job easy!

Robyn and Kendra

Robyn and Kendra


Kendra in Dad's Jacket

Kendra in Dad’s Jacket












Put a kid into this and you’ll get some pictures!


Freckles and Dad (Keith)

Dad (Keith)

They brought the dogs!  Usually, I heartily approve of this and in this case the family wouldn’t have been complete without them.

By the time we had got to the “sitting on the grass” stage, it was time to begin winding up the production.  We did so with one last family grouping, this time with the entire pack.

The Millar Family

The Millar Family

Do I think everyone has to be looking at the camera all the time?  Of course  not.  It wouldn’t matter much if I did, I suppose.  It would be like asking everyone to smile and not blink for the next hour.  I would hesitate to pose a family like the one at the top, however.  Just a matter of style, I suppose.

Here’s a family that knows how to approach the family portrait:


Did you know I also have a greeting card company?  I love discovering old and interesting images and then sharing them with you on note cards.   You can find my Etsy shop HERE .  Here also is a neat little introduction so you can see what I’m talking about: