Family Portraits: When the kids are moving out…


I first spoke with Sarah over the phone about wanting to do some family portraits with her grown-up kids. It was about two weeks before Xmas and Sarah explained that her daughter was due to fly out to Florida, USA for a year of study exchange in about 3 weeks. Sarah was worried that we wouldn’t be able to fit anything in, or that it wouldn’t work for her son, who had already moved out of home, and had a busy work and social life.

The conversation started really well, and I assured Sarah that we could definitely fit something in, especially as her daughter had such a tight schedule to meet before the trip overseas. Sarah’s initial excitement turned into a bit of concern about her son: Would he be interested in the shoot? Would he turn up? Would the portraits look any good?

I had to reassure her that I had been doing this for 10 years, and know what I’m doing, and how to capture great family portraits of all types of families. I also had to deliver a little bit of tough love to Sarah, which was this: if the portraits were important to her (they were) then she needed to pull rank as Mum, and tell her son that he HAD to be there. It was only for an hour, and it was only once, and it was because his sister was going O/S for a year.

Sarah hung up, so she could check with her son. Turns out he had a work Xmas party on that night, but she was able to convince him (using only that power that mother’s possess) to come along on the Friday afternoon for the family portraits at Turimetta Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

I wanted to make it as easy for Sarah as possible, so I actually prepared the images really quickly and surprised her with a viewing & purchasing appointment the very next day, and I even had a full collection of printed portraits ready for her! She cried (as often happens, when parents are moved by my portraits of their family and their children), and loved everything.

Here are a few of my (and Sarah’s) favourites from her family portraits, starting with her absolute favourite of the kids together:



We were struck with a fairly windy day, so I had to find some shelter in the lee of a rock wall that juts out from the cliff. These shots of Mum with each child show just how windy it was – check out the hair-do’s! No fashion-shoot electric fans in use here… just good old Mother Nature! :)



I was standing a bit away from the group, fidgeting with my camera / memory cards / something, when I looked over my shoulder and noticed this image. The pair were arranged exactly as you see them in this portrait, and I absolutely loved the quirky positioning, the contrast of sitting and standing, and the distance between them. It speaks to me of individual characters and personalities, while still acknowledging the fact they are siblings and family.



Walking a little closer to the pair after that shot above, I noticed some BEAUTIFUL flared sunlight coming from just above the cliffs behind us. The sun hadn’t quite gone low enough to put us in complete shadow, so I made sure that Sarah’s family portraits contained a couple of flared-out individual portraits. Sarah’s son (who is a musician) noticed that the shot of him looked like something from a 70’s album cover. I completely agreed, although I’m not 100% sure he was excited about it, as he’s a fan of heavy metal…!




This moment was really natural, and showed a genuine, warm expression on all three individuals. The contrast between the girls’ lighter outfits, and the son’s black shirt and hair, really worked well to set this image off.



Sarah LOVED this shot, including the dramatic rock cliffs in the background, so when I prepared her surprise prints, I did this one as a larger portrait to suit going on the wall. Instant hit.



Finally, a couple of black and white portraits to show a different side to Sarah’s kids. These portraits are striking and powerful in their simplicity, and show such a beautiful, subtle side of each individual, that Sarah was really taken with them. They are also a perfect pair to present next to each other on a wall or mantelpiece.



Do you have older children? Have they moved out of home yet, or are they in their final years of study?

I really encourage you to have some family portraits done as a family, before they fly the nest and start their own lives. If you have only just realised that this is happening (and life moves pretty fast, so it’s not uncommon…) please give me a call on 02 9665 0800 and we can talk about how best to capture your family’s story before the kids move out.