Big Family Candid Beach Portraits at Tradewinds Resort St. Petersburg

A Charlie's Angels inspired portrait on the beach at Tradewinds Resort St. Petersburg 

Marillee's big family were all going to be in the same spot, St. Petersburg, Florida for just a few days.  Fortunately my schedule matched theirs and we were able to meet at the Tradewinds Resort for my biggest to date candid family beach portrait photography session.  There were eleven immediate family members and a few other friends of the family who lived locally as well.  Only one of these people was not yet old enough to drive, so managing so many people in a finite time (before sunset) to produce the best possible candid portraits was still a challenge, but not an overwhelming one.

Nikon D300 Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D lens natural lightAs is usually the case, the family only had a few requests, and left all the other shots up to me.  One request they did have was the above photograph of all of them, save for the baby, wearing their sunglasses.  

The ever popular nowadays group jumping portrait on Tradewinds Resort beachWhile I had them all standing next to each other along the water they were very up for my suggestion of a group jumping shot.  However, getting all 10 people to jump at the same time was only a modestly successful venture due to differences in vertical leap and desire to touch the sky!

Nikon D300 Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8 natural light processing in Color Efex Pro 3 (tonal contrast filter)The action shots continued as I asked the brothers to show me who had the fastest forty time.  I would judge the results in this photograph to be unofficial as a good bit of tom-foolery was present at the start of the race, which is not unexpected in any form of brotherly competition.

Portrait Tip: have a shy person engage with the others in the portrait instead of stiffly looking into the cameraWhile the brothers recovered from their sprints, I had the matriarch and patriarch of the family take up with the apple of their eyes, their lone precocious grandson.  Note the tip in the footnote of the photo.  If some one cannot just relax looking into the lens, the next best thing I find is to have them interact with the others in the portrait to at least get a natural expression, if not their entire face showing.

Nikon D300 Tamron XR Di II 17-50mm f/2.8 lens B&W processing in Silver Efex ProOne final shot of the entire family in a panorama crop.  If you want to be able to see the faces of 11 people better in a group shot, cropping to a panorama orientation does the trick.  I also think it is very pleasing for a portrait to only include the upper torsos of a group of people.  

Photo Tip #2 -- Use the youngest as a prop! He won't mind and everyone else will enjoy it.If you cannot get a toddler to stand still, well then hold him up!  There was just no getting all the ladies in the family to be composed and the family toddler as well.  So I asked if they could all hold him together, which resulted in lots of laughs for everyone involved and to me a quintessential candid portrait.