Family Portraits: Becoming a Creative Family Portrait Photographer

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by Jason Ulsrud, Texas School Instructor

Are you tired of creating the same old boring family portraits as everyone else? Portraits where everyone’s dressed the same, finely posed, and smiling for the camera? If you are, then you might want to consider becoming a Creative Family Portrait Photographer.

After creating my first crazy portrait of my twin boys, I had no idea the journey I was about to embark on. Now, four years later, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to build a thriving business as a photographer who makes family portraits that are different. So, if being “different” appeals to you, here are the three most important things that helped launch my awesome career.

The first step to becoming a Creative Family Portrait Photographer is to find your own unique style that resonates with people. Now, many photographers think my unique style is the illustrative look my family portraits have, or the cartoony vibe given to them, or the crazy stories they all seem to feature, and while all of these observations may stand out as different, they are not my “style.”

My unique style is how I see the world. Let me repeat that because this is super important, “My unique style is how I see the world.”

Every portrait I create, whether it be for myself, print competition, or for a client, comes from the way I see the world, which includes a lot of humor, some sarcasm, and a lot of details due to my ADD. Your art, like mine, will be far more successful when it reflects your vision of the world. What (not who) inspires you? What art do you love most? What makes you laugh? What makes you cry? What makes you feel emotional? If you could create the perfect family portrait of your family, what would it look like? So, step one, create portraits you want to see yourself.

The second step to becoming a Creative Family Portrait Photographer is to invest in mastering your craft. If you look at all the photographers and artists throughout this publication and others, the one thing they all have in common is they’ve mastered their craft and are likely still working to master their craft. After establishing the vision I had for my Creative Family Portraits, I will spend 12 to 14 hours a day watching, reading, learning, and practicing the tools of my trade, and there was nothing that was going to stop me from bringing my vision to life. In fact, mastering my craft is so important to me that even today, four years later, I invest time and money into understanding and practicing my craft.

I can promise you that investing your time and money into your craft will pay dividends way beyond what you can imagine. I know this because I make a really good living and travel all over the country creating these crazy family portraits for some really awesome people. So, take classes, enroll in workshops, buy tutorials, ask questions, and do whatever it takes to master the craft that’ll bring your portraits to life.

The third step to becoming a Creative Family Portrait Photographer is to find the right audience for your style of portraits, which simply means, finding people who resonate with your style of family portraits and who would be willing to drop some coin for them. In the beginning I remember having no idea how to do this or if people would even want my style of family portraits but thankfully for me, this didn’t stop me and I dug in and figured it out.

I knew right from the start that I wanted to average $10K per portrait, which meant finding people who would make that investment. So, I started going to several weekly networking groups, always looking for opportunities to put my work in front of my target market, doing free work to continue mastering my craft, posting on social media, building my website content, and never giving up even when I wanted to really bad.

The two biggest things you need to consider when determining who your audience will be is, one, how long will it take you to create your family portrait, and two, how much will you have to charge to fairly compensate you for your hard work and time?

Remember, people will pay a premium for things that are exclusive, unique, and different, so don’t be afraid to dream big here. When your view of the world resonates with people and you’ve mastered your craft well enough to bring that vision to life, people will want what you have. Right now, there are families all around waiting for you to embark on the same Creative Family Portrait journey I have. Embrace your unique vision of the work, make the investment into mastering your craft, and figure out how to show them you’re the best family portrait photographer to bring their family to life in a fun and entertaining way.

Trust me, this is way more fun than doing boring family portraits.

Jason Ulsrud creates awesome pictures and helps photographers bring their visions to life through the magic of Composite Photography. Before starting Photiversity, Jason has spent the previous 3 years creating uniquely different portraits for families all over the United States. Happier than ever and with business continuing to grow, Jason is now helping other photographers discover their own unique style. He will be teaching a class on “Being Different with Creative Portraits” at Texas School 2020. You can connect with Jason at www.photiversity.com or learn more about his class at www.TexasSchool.org.