family

Candid Fun Creative Albuquerque Family Portraits at Highland Park

Candid Fun Creative Albuquerque Family Portraits at Highland Park

When a family is willing to have real fun in portraits

Earlier in my photography career, I regularly booked family portrait shoots specializing in my own signature candid style. Now I very rarely have family portrait shoots, and typically only for clients I have done other commercial photography work for, like Barb and Dr. Norm. When they asked me if I could do a Christmas Day shoot because that was the only time their entire family would be together, I said yes mostly because I really like them and knew it would be a fun time and I could push the envelope with getting some great candids. The photos in this collection are my own personal favorites from the shoot. The siblings in particular had fun with each other! We made very good use of Highland Park from top to bottom to climbing bars to the merry-go-round!

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Sandias Albuquerque New Mexico Family Sunset Portraits with Darrell

Sandias Albuquerque New Mexico Family Sunset Portraits with Darrell

I first met Darrell when he came to my Home Studio for a headshot session in December of last year.  I was very happy to hear he wanted me to be his family's portrait photographer this time.  I was extra excited because after shooting dozens of families in Florida for sunset beach photos, this would be my first family desert sunset portrait session!

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Sunset Beach Treasure Island Florida Candid Family Beach Portraits July 2013

Mother and daughter candid black & white Sunset Beach portrait on Treasure Island Florida - Nikon D300 Nikkor 50mm @ f/2.5 ISO 200 1/250th - Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame rightLately I have been photographing rather large families on Florida's beaches.  This time it was a family of four and I was reminded of the benefits of photographing such a small number of people, and also with children not out of control.  We were also at my favorite beach, Sunset Beach on Treasure Island.  This was an opportunity for me to try new shots and take my time.  The shot above was a candid between setup shots of mother and daughter.  Converting to black & white had a dramatic effect on the overall look of the photo and it may end up being one of my personal favorites of 2013.

Family visits Sunset Beach on Treasure Island Florida and jumps to the sky - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/6.3 ISO 200 1/100th - Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame rightThe family requested a jumping shot, one that is not on my normal shot list, so another chance at a new type of shot.  It took quite a few tries to get everyone to jump in a semi-coordinated effort and not have faces blocked, etc.

Carrying the kids family beach portraits on Sunset Beach Treasure Island Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/5 ISO 200 1/100th - Stobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame rightAs you can see it was not a clear sunset that evening, but more a dramatic backdrop of clouds backlit by the setting sun.  The family liked this background, and for me it provided another differentiating factor for this series of images.

Family in form on Sunset Beach Treasure Island Florida - Nikon D300 Nikkor 50mm @ f/2 ISO 200 1/160th natural lightThis photo was my idea, earlier on in the shoot.  The dad mentioned how he did not mind if he was not in some shots, so I placed him furthest back and using a 50mm lens at f/2 let shallow depth of field create interest in the framing.  I do not often get to use my 50mm lens during beach portrait sessions due to lack of time.  

Family walking down Sunset Beach Treasure Island candid portraits - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4 ISO 320 1/500th natural lightThis last shot is one I often make of a family walking down the shore using my long lens (Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D).  It was a windy day and it kicked up waves making the Gulf of Mexico look more like a proper ocean background.

Madeira Beach St Petersburg Candid Portrait 3 Generations Family Photography at Sunset

Father holds his baby girl in the air at Madeira Beach Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/6.3 ISO 200 1/250th - Strobist: SB-800 @ 1/4 power beside camera & SB-600 @ 1/4 power to frame rightI returned to Madeira Beach Florida last week for a family beach portrait session at sunset with a three generation family.  There has been very unpredictable rain this July here in Florida, but two early day rain showers allowed for a nice clear sky with plenty of clouds for an ideal backdrop.  I made use of that great sunset in the above photo of a father holding his baby girl high up in the air.  I have made this kind of shot a few times before (see here), but I tried a new strobist lighting position that produced the best results yet.

Black & White family beach portrait on Madeira Beach Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/9 ISO 200 1/100th - Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame rightI like clouds in the sky for a beach portrait session, and all the ones in the above shot in my view add drama to the overall family portrait.  I framed this shot very carefully, so that the viewer would have no idea of the line of hotels just outside the left edge nor all the people walking down the beach just outside the right edge.

Baby Girl at sunset on Madeira Beach Florida candid beach portraits - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/200th - Strobist: SB-800 & SB-600 somewhere near the baby as she was roving aroundToward the end of the session we let the baby loose for some truly candid shots, as she never even looked my way once.  That was actually fine with me because I like the results of her looking perhaps at her own reflection in the water or maybe just the sparkle of the setting sun?

Gathered around sunset family beach portrait Madeira Beach Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50m @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/200th - Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame rightThis is a new-ish pose I like for a group of five adults (plus baby ok too) with one person anchoring the entire pose and everyone wrapped around.  Just lining people up like a picket fence makes for a mundane beach portrait to me, so I am always trying to not take the easy way out and encourage the clients to get in the sand and of course interact with each other to produce more personal beach portraits.

Sisters sunset portrait on Madeira Beach Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 1/250th - Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame rightThe same for this shot above of two sisters.  They were just going to stand next to each other, until I used the trusty Posing App to suggest a more sisterly bonding look for the photo.  When this photo is looked at by the sisters twenty years from now, if they were just standing side-by-side, that would evoke no physical feeling, where this photo in contrast will hopefully make them remember what it felt like to hold their sister in their arms.

Large Family Group Portraits on Coffee Pot Blvd St. Petersburg Florida

16-person family portrait on Coffee Pot Blvd in St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 320 1/100th - Strobist: SB-800 in brolly to frame left & SB-600 in shoot-through umbrella to frame rightJust 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.  

Just the ladies in a family portrait St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/6.3 ISO 200 1/100th - Strobist: SB-800 in brolly to frame left & SB-600 in shoot-through umbrella to frame rightI 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.

Big family portrait on Coffee Pot Blvd St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 1/60th - Strobist: SB-800 in brolly to frame left & SB-600 in shoot-through umbrella to frame rightOf 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.  

Family on sofa portrait on Coffee Pot Blvd - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 320 1/100th - Strobist: SB-800 in brolly to frame left & SB-600 in shoot-through umbrella to frame rightAfter 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.  

Children and grandchildren portrait on Coffee Pot Blvd St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 320 1/100th - Strobist: SB-800 in brolly to frame left & SB-600 in shoot-through umbrella to frame rightA 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.  

Three levels large family portrait in St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 320 1/100th - Strobist: SB-800 in brolly to frame left & SB-600 in shoot-through umbrella to frame rightThe 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.  

Candid generational portraits in St. Petersburg FloridaThe 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.  

Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park Children Kids Portraits with Rivera Family

Family Portrait in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in Tampa Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/6.3 ISO 200 1/250th - Strobist: SB-800 @ 1/2 power in 43" brolly to frame leftI 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.

Two sisters and their brother in Curtis Hixon Park Tampa Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/6.3 ISO 200 1/250th - Strobist: SB-800 @ 1/2 power in 43" brolly to frame rightNow 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!

Brother & Sister jumping in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park Tampa Florida portraits - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/6.3 ISO 200 1/250th - Strobist: SB-800 @ 1/2 power in 43" brollyHere 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.

Baby girl running in Curtis Hixon Park Tampa Florida kids portraits - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/6.3 ISO 200 1/250th - Strobist: SB-800 @ 1/2 power to frame rightChristmas 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.  

Siblings in Curtis Hixon Park Tampa Florida kids portraits - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 1/400th - Strobist: SB-800 @ 1/2 power in 43" brolly next to cameraThe 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!

Family Beach Portraits at Sunset Beach Treasure Island Florida - Demiduk Family

Watching the sunset as a family on Treasure Island Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/60th - Strobist: SB-800 to frame left rear & SB-600 to frame right frontOnce 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.

Baby Naomi was in constant motion when not being held close by her parents!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!

Having family fun in front of tall beach grass on Sunset Beach Treasure Island FloridaThe 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.

2-year old preparing to be a ballerina - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/60th Strobist: SB-800 to frame center right & SB-600 to rear rightUsing 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.

Gliding down the shore black & white family beach portrait - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4 ISO 500 1/400th natural lightKristin 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!