When families call the studio for a unique family portrait, my first question is always, "What do you do together as a family?" I try to photograph families doing what they enjoy doing...having a family portrait does not mean you have to get dressed up in formal attire and have your picture taken in a studio in front of a painted background.
When this family told me they go to the movies almost every week, I said to myself, "Holy Cow, that can get expensive." My second thought was, "Great...this will make for a fantastic family portrait!". I contacted a small, local theater that shows a lot of indie movies, and they allowed me to use the main theater room for about a half an hour mid-day on a weekday. Not wanting to impose on the theater owners at all, I made sure that I brought all of my own lights so that they would not have to do anything special for me. You don't want to go into a place like this and starting making all sorts of requests...they will be sorry they agreed to it, and probably will not take your call next time you want to use their facility.
With the family seated in the center of the theater, I wanted to make it look like they were watching a movie. I brought in a large 4' x 6' softbox that I placed in front of the family on the small stage in the theater, to replicate light coming from the lit-up movie screen. I also brought a smaller flash that I placed high and behind the family, to replicate the light coming from the projection booth. This light also provided nice rim lighting, highlighting the family against the darker seats behind them.
We ran through several sequences of them reacting to different kinds of movies: laughing at comedies, frightened at scary movies, intrigued by the height of a dramatic sequence,etc. Once I was satisfied with that sequence, we moved along the aisle and we did several arrangements there. Finally, we moved to the concession booth and finished the session there. All in all, I tried to give the family several options for the wall portraits that they were interested in purchasing. They ended up buying two large wall canvases for their home...a fitting gift for the couple's 25th anniversary.