One answer is for a small studio to contact a local community such as a Lake Association, a Rotary Club or any other organization that promotes a family lifestyle. Your deal to them is that you will photograph all the families in their organization who wish to have a family portrait. A couple of club volunteers can make the appointments fifteen minutes apart on a single day, preferably a Sunday. Two fifteen minute session can be awarded to extremely large groups. You may want to reward their help with a free set of portraits and a substantial donation to the club treasury.
Large groups are to be encouraged since you stand to make more money with large families. Wall portraits are to be preferred with large groups and breakdowns can swell the order appreciably. Pricing generally is half of the studio rate with not session charge. An eight hour day can accommodate about thirty families. Generally, end of summer is the best time for family portraits since the kids are back from vacation and new clothes are available.
Most communities have a community hall available for portraits if reserved well in advance.
A sample table containing all the sizes with several wall portraits on easels should greet the family on Portrait Day. Avoid using head close ups in your sample pictures. Several chairs for waiting clients and a check in booth will expedite flow.
As to equipment needs, a large (12′ x 21′) muslin background with attendant supports, five lights, tripod and camera is all that is needed. One soft box main of 200 watts, one umbrella fill of 100 watts, one 100 watt hair light with boom and two 100 watt kicker lights for an evenly lit background are needed for quality work.
I recommend photographing a name and session number included in each session for ordering ease. Packages ranging from one eight by ten and two five by sevens to ones including an eleven by fourteen and many eight by tens, five by sevens, and wallets. Four by sixes should not be available since they are large enough to take the place of five by sevens and also they look like the snapshots they get from their personal cameras. Wall portraits should be treated individually and priced accordingly with and without frames. Delivery is cost effective with all photographs placed in a large paper bag with your logo on the front. You should be able to qualify for reduced rates from the print lab.
In order to make money at this, you must use a good family portraitist who can work fast and neat. Pay him or her well. Two photographers work well, offering breaks and lunch times for less stress. Breakdowns should be encouraged – for instance : a family of two adults, three children, three grandparents and a dog should be photographed like this. Six photographs of the whole group (first), six photographs of two different poses of the family of five, three shots of the parents, six shots of the three children, two shots of each child, three shots of one pair of grandparents, and three shots of the single grandparent. One photograph of the mother with her parent(s) and the same for the father. These breakdowns will be irresistible to the client and will multiply your orders dramatically. I advise you to ask the mother for any special requests for poses. They are often shy to ask a special grouping or pose. Remember, this will result in a guaranteed sale.