The sky over the Gulf of Mexico at Sunset Beach, Treasure Island, St. Petersburg was completely clear for the candid family beach portrait photography session with Vickie and her family. For the main sunset portrait, I had the new idea to have the parents hold their children rather than the kids standing beside their parents. Although everyone was standing still, I thought it added a sense of motion and gave the portrait a certain type of dynamic and sense of inertia.
The forehead-to-forehead pose was Vickie's idea. I liked how this photograph turned out so much that it was my third favorite photograph of 2010. The mother and daughter I feel form a slight heart shape together and with their faces hidden the viewer is left to imagine their emotions. Leaving things to the imagination is a key element in many of my best photographs and one of my signature styles. My thanks to Vickie for this great pose idea.
If the family has two children, I like the dad to hold both children in his arms. I like to think it will provide a memory for the children of how strong their father was and how small they once were to be able to fit in the bend of his arm. With the sun setting and the great Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D lens on my Nikon D300, natural light provided just the side-lighting look I wanted.
Nothing like a little frozen motion for an action candid shot. This looked like so much fun I wished I was not close to 2-spins so that I could be tossed high into the air too! Perhaps if I ever get to meet a mountain gorilla my wish could come true.
This type of candid portrait is my favorite type for children. One may think the photo is a fail since the boy is not looking into the lens, but I actually think it makes the photo because it adds his own character to the shot, especially with the lip bite as well. His sister smiles perfectly. Each person in the shot has her/his own dynamic. Perhaps in twenty years she will rib him and say, "what were you looking at?"
The instructions I give for the "walking down the beach" shot, which is one of my favorite kind of family beach shot, is for the family to try and stay in the same plane when walking, walk at a good pace, try not to swing your arms too much or too high, and keep some space between each person (to prevent arm overlap). Vickie and her family got it all down perfectly on the first take.