Entries in family (17)
Just before Christmas I had an interesting photography challenge in the form of how to make a large family portrait, 16 people in all, outdoors at a home along Coffee Pot Blvd. I live within two miles of the location myself and drive by it often. It is a very beautiful place and I liked having the chance to photograph a family somewhere besides the beach.
I did some research on large group portraits and it helped to have a prop of some kind that some family members could sit on, often the grandparents or grandchildren. They said they had an outdoor sofa they could use. I thought the sofa they had was perfect as soon as I saw it and feel it really made the images far better than they could have been without it.
Of course when making a large group portrait you have to really pay attention to making sure no one's head is hidden or blocked by another person, and also to make sure no shadows get cast on a person in one of the back rows or interior placement. To help this, it is best to have people line up in straight rows and not curve at the edges.
After the big group shot I made some shots of the individual families, which were still fairly large as seen by the six person group shot above. Again, have the sofa helped prevent making portraits with people just all standing in a straight line next to each other. I also made a conscious effort to have an up and down composition by having taller people at the edges and a taller subject in the middle. This also helps add balance when you have an even number of subjects, with no central person to compose around.
A variety in hand placement also helps add creativity to a mostly posed large group portrait. Each of the boys has a different way of holding his hands together, and the same for the others in the background of the portrait too.
The family wanted one person to lie down on the ground for one of the portraits which was fine by me as that adds yet another element of interest to the portrait.
The last shots of the portrait session were much more candid with me setting up my lights and just having people walk in between them and have fun. Giving suggestions to the subjects help get a candid reaction, as I asked the grandparents to think of the first time they met, and the grandmother as you can see moved her hand to her heart in reaction, which I was ready to capture. The girls shared a laugh about something and the boys wanted their football in the shot.
I used the same basic strobist setup for all the shots in this blog post, two speedlights off camera on light stands, one in a 43" brolly and the other in a 42" shoot through umbrella. I used a 17-50mm lens for the large group shots and an 80-200mm lens for the smaller group shots.
I received e-mail from Carlos, a returning client about having a portrait session with his expanding family at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in Tampa Florida. I knew the park and liked it a lot, but had not had any chances to shoot there yet so I was excited for the opportunity, and was also looking forward to see his family again. I first photographed his family back in November of 2009 for his daughter's birthday party.
Now he has another daughter, a Christmas baby no less! The sun was strong at the time of the shoot, but using my 43" brolly I was able to manage some strobist shots into the sun. The biggest challenge, really, was keeping all three kids in the frame and kind of looking in my direction!
Here you can see the difference in jumping ability between sister and brother! In the background are some of the downtown Tampa skyscrapers. I used a single speedlight for this shoot as two speedlights would have been too much to manage in the busy & windy park without an assistant.
Christmas baby Juliet on a scamper across the riverwalk area of Curtis Hixon Park. I got low for this shot to offer a different view of the baby than most adults see of her from their much taller perspectives.
The University of Tampa is engulfed by the sun in the background of this portrait of sister and brother from one of the unusual platforms in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. I chose black & white processing as the sun was washing out much of the color in the shot anyway.
I really liked the park as a shooting location and was glad to have a chance to make more photographs of Carlos and his family!
Once again I had the opportunity to photograph a client I already knew as DSLR Photography Lesson student Kristin booked a Family Beach Portrait session for Sunset Beach on Treasure Island. As I have mentioned before, it is always a plus to photograph people you are familiar with, and of course as a pro photographer it is flattering that a client would give you repeat business.
Kristin's nearly 2-year old daughter was a very talkative little girl, and as one might expect a very active one too. I usually recommend that parents hold their child as the best means of keeping them in the frame!
The whole family had a lot of personality which made it fun to photograph them as they were never at a loss for smiling in front of the lens. A willingness to get a bit sandy allowed us to make the above shots in front of Sunset Beach's tall grass dunes.
Using a mound of sand that was the remains of a castle, Naomi practiced her ballerina moves as I framed her with the dusk sky out over the Gulf of Mexico.
Kristin has two more photography lessons with me where I will help prepare her to be able to make her own family beach portraits in the future!
I returned to Sunset Beach on Treasure Island in St. Petersburg Florida once again this time for a large group family beach portrait session. Normally I work with no shotlist on family beach portrait shoots, but due to there being six adults and two children composing three family groups and three generations I did ask the client to provide one to make sure we got all the pairings desired. The shot above features another new pose I have not done before. I asked the family if they were willing to get a bit crazy and they say yes for sure so with the will to lay down on the sand there, we were able to make this shot which was my favorite of the evening.
The key to reducing and even better eliminating shadows when making a large group family portrait on the beach is to have the family not stand in a concave line as seems to be everyone's natural instinct, but rather a convex or at least straight line so that the people for example in the far right of the above image do not cast a shadaw on the people next to them. I start by setting up a shot like this by having the person in the center be the anchor, and then placing everyone else around that person.
When working with essentially three different groups with the every present sunset as a countdown timer, the photographer has to work even more efficiently and try to provide as best as possible variety in the shots, but of course an entirely different image cannot be made for each group each time within a 60-minute session. This was really my first time to work with this many pairings on a family beach portrait session and I was pleased with the variety of shots I was able to make, though as you can see there was only time to work with one camera and lens where I usually shoot with at least two and sometimes three lenses.
This is the same grass location as her sister's family, but a different pose makes for a very different feel in the final image. I also shot from a different angle and a bit wider. Luckily, Sunset Beach's tall grass has survived well despite the recent tropical storm.
This semi-complex group walking shot was made on the first take which was great as you can see the sun was already below the horizon and light was fading fast. My advice for this type of shot is for everyone to start walking with the same foot forward, while holding hands and continuing to walk even after I take the shot to maintain a natural look to the image.
Visiting all the way from Nebraska, the Poe Family were worried about the weather for their candid family beach portrait session. I told them on the phone in the morning that is is impossible to predict what the weather conditions will be like eight hours from now so do not worry. As you can see from the above shot, the rain did not fall on the beach, but the fact that there were storms all around provided for a very dramatic sky background for many of our family beach portraits.
The youngest and I share the same name which he told me with some great excitement when we met. It is good to know parents are still choosing it as a name. For this shot I tried to compose just so that the remaining sun appeared to be resting on his shoulder between his other two siblings.
The father requested this shot having seen an example of it with another family on my website. I believe I first came up with the idea for this type of shot last summer. For me to not be able to see the subjects' faces allows the viewer to wonder even more what the subjects might be thinking of as they look out upon the horizon with all the Sea and Heavens before them.
I did not have to say anything to neither mother nor daughter for this shot. I just placed them within my two speedlights, went back to be able to fit them within the frame and as I turned around they were already having fun so all I had to do was then push the shutter and voila!
The sun itself was really only visible once it dipped below some clouds just above the horizon. From experience I knew this would be the case and I had everyone ready to take advantage of the little time we would have with the sun in such conditions.
In our hour and a half portrait session we made a great variety of shots, which is always my goal as I do not like to shoot a similar shot and always provide the client with very different images, not merely just variations of the same shot. In this session the shot list ranged from of course all the family members, to each individual child shot, to husband and wife and then each parent with one of their children. It was a full session!