It’s the biggest event of the year, really. Christmas and thanksgiving have nothing on the tradition of the Candelora Family Portrait. And, if I’m not mistaken, I think we’ve finally passed out the Kardashians in amount of people included int he annual photo. But, make no mistake, a feat of this sort is no easy task. In fact, it takes a lot of time and effort. So for those of you who have a large family and wonder how our annual photo always comes together, let me walk you through the process.
1. The vision.
We usually start 6 months in advance with brainstorming about it. Because I’m the photographer in the family, I usually lead the creative process with a clear vision of what it should look like. This year we decided to do something that had a relaxed Vanity Fair-esque feel to it. And while the final product may not exactly be what I had in mind (it was freezing so we had to move quick), it definitely came close. As with everything I do, it all start with a style board on Pinterest.
2. The outfits
Our outfits are usually the most essential part of the photo. Usually my mom, my sister and I brainstorm about outfit ideas because, if it were up to my brother, we’d all be in camo, as he’s been petitioning for since 2008. But finding clothes for 12 people (15 when significant others were added) is no easy task. We had our Pinterest board where my mom, Katie and I began pinning things we liked, but actually finding those items was definitely not easy. And then there was a battle of the different greens and navys matching, not having too many different patterns, and…oh…not going broke. But in the end, we finally found outfits that suited everyone. We started with another inspiration board, based on what some of us already owned, and then we added other pieces to it.
3. The location
From the inception of our planning for this years portrait, I had this place in my head. This place with concrete or brick walls and large windows. A place with old wood or concrete floors. A place that felt very raw. But I racked my brain and could not think of a single [legal} place that would fit this criteria. The one day as I was headed back from an appointment, I drove my the Hilliard Mills in Manchester and thought “Wow! THat is a gorgeous building!”. Thinking that it was probably abandoned, I drove around the back and, much to my surprise, there were a few cars parked in the lot. I made my way inside through the front door, which was unlocked, and discovered that this building is under reconstruction and if the office to many businesses, mostly creative businesses. It was late in the afternoon so not many people were there, but as I made my way around the building, I finally ended up on the top floor where I literally gasped and exclaimed (to myself) “This is IT! This is exactly what I had in mind!”. And even better than I could imagine, there was an antique piano restoration business sup there and the owner allowed us to use one of their pianos. The managers of Hilliard Mills were extremely gracious in letting us use their property, especially after they had a few really bad happenings with other photographers who used it.
4. The set
I knew that with the amount of people we had, we needed a variety of things to levels us out, and to give us height and depth. We started with the red piano, which would be the main prop, and then I brought some other stuff and added it in as we saw fit.
5. The portrait
It is seriously never easy to wrangle all the people, of various ages, together for one picture where everyone looks good. Over the years I’ve learned a few lessons, not the least of which was making sure the kids were all well fed. And, although this years portrait came out great, I’ve already started thinking of ways to improve it next year.
And with that, I give you the Candelora’s of 2012 (which Adam got to join in on because he proposed 3 days prior).