family photography

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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Madeira Beach Florida Sunset Beach Portraits with Paula & Family

All smiles for this family on Madeira Beach during their sunset portrait session in Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/250th - Strobist: SB-800 & SB-600 @ 1/2 powerIt had been awhile since I had a sunset family beach portrait session on Madeira Beach, so it was good to meet Paula and family there recently, although once facing the Gulf of Mexico, pretty much every beach on the Pinellas peninsula looks the same!  The family-in-a-row was a new style photograph for me.  I am always looking for new ways to photograph families on the beach and adding as much variety to a family's set of shots as possible.  I like this in-a-row composition and will definitely be adding it to my already existing set of shots.

Sisters all stacked up on Madeira Beach during a fun family beach portraits session - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4 ISO 200 1/640th - natural lightAll three sisters stacked themselves up and were bookended by their parents.  I encourage families to physically interact as much as possible to add a natural and fun look to shots.  The more you come into physical contact, the better the results is typically how it goes.  Just standing stiffly side-by-side is something I try to avoid at all costs.

Family togetherness on Madeira Beach in Florida during a sunset portrait session - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4 ISO 200 1/500th - natural lightI wonder if in 20 years these sisters will remember what they were laughing about in this moment.  I hope they can.  That is the potential power of a still photograph.

A beautiful sunset on Madeira Beach Florida for family portraits - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/200th - Strobist: SB-800 & SB-600 @ 1/2 powerFor me personally (and as a photographer), I prefer there to be some clouds along the horizon and in the sky in general for sunset portraits.

Sisters jumping on Madeira Beach during a family beach sunset portrait session in Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/7.1 ISO 200 1/200th - Strobist: SB-800 & SB-600 @ 1/2 powerI think these three sisters jumped the highest I have ever seen for a jumping photograph of this nature.  Madeira Beach and mother nature provided a very nice backdrop for this family beach sunset portrait session.

Sunset Beach Treasure Island Florida Family Beach Portraits with 8 kids!

8 kids on Sunset Beach Treasure Island Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/160th - Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame rightVisiting from Ohio, I got a call about a beach portrait session from Jill who wanted portraits on Sunset Beach on Treasure Island Florida of all of her family, which included 8 kids and 12 people total!  As you can see, all the kids were thankfully about the same age and they all got along so it was much easier than I thought to get all 8 kids in multiple shots over our nearly 90-minutues of actual shooting time.

All 8 kids rolling in the sand on Sunset Beach Treasure Island Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/250th - Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame rightThe family wanted the kids to be the focus of the shoot, so most shots only featured the children.  The kids themselves had plenty of ideas for shots and were willing to get down on the sand, which meant I also had to get on the sand to get to their eye level for the above shot.

Getting a ride from her brother on Sunset Beach Treasure Island Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/200th - Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame rightHe and I were both thinking the same thing when I suggested he give his sister a piggy-back ride for their portrait with the tall sea grass as a background.

Mom and her two children on Sunset Beach Treasure Island Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/200th - Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame rightWhen mom is willing to get on the sand and let her kids sandwich her, that is making a sacrifice for the photograph!  I was on the sand too and was glad to have a chance to try this more dynamic beach pose.

Dad and his three daughters on Sunset Beach Treasure Island Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/200th - Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame rightMy idea for this shot of a father with his three daughters I wanted to show all the girls surrounding their dad and being as close to him as possible.  Dad was set first as the anchor of the group and then each daughter wedged in next to him.  

Family Beach Portraits Sunset Beach Treasure Island St Petersburg Florida July 2013

Getting on the sand for their family beach portrait on Treasure Island Florida - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/8 ISO 200 1/250th - Strobist: SB-800 @ 1/2 power to frame left & SB-600 @ 1/2 power to frame rightIt was a quick return to Sunset Beach on Treasure Island Florida for me since my last visit on Thursday for another candid family beach portrait session.  I never know what the sunset will be like for any particular shoot, and it is surprising to me about how different they always turn out to be from each other.  This evening was a mix of pure sun followed by dramatic clouds.  The youngest member of this family was not impressed with anything though and as you can see by his damp eyes, was crying almost the entire time being up a bit past his usual bedtime.  I know I get cranky too without enough sleep, but that usually is about waking up too early in the morning.

Sunset Beach reveals another great Treasure Island Florida background - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 1/100th - Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame rightOne last shot before the sun disappeared below the horizon bringing the end to another day on Sunset Beach on Treasure Island.  Just after we finished a few raindrops started to fall.  Another lucky weather evening out on the beach!

Pouring sand on his brother on Sunset Beach Treasure Island Florida candid portraits - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/8 ISO 200 1/250th - Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame rightNow getting sand poured on your head by your older brother is enough to make anyone cranky, that's for sure!

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.

Indian Rocks Beach 12 Person Candid Family Portraits in the afternoon

Baby in the air on Indian Rocks Beach candid family portraits - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/250th - Strobist: SB-800 @ 1/2 power frame left & SB-600 @ 1/2 power frame right rearIt was an unusual family beach portrait session for me in two regards.  First, it was a large family of 12 people out on Indian Rocks Beach.  The more people the bigger the challenge of course.  Secondly, the client requested a 4pm start time since there were very young children in the shoot who could not stay awake for a more traditional sunset shoot which that day would have been until 7:50pm.  This latter condition though led to a new style shot I had not tried before (above) that I really like having one parent hold the baby in the air with the other parent looking on behind.

Afternoon on Indian Rocks Beach large 12-person family beach portrait - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/9 ISO 200 1/250th - Strobist SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame rightIn order to fight the power of the afternoon sun and still have the water in the background, I had to set my speedlights to 1/2 power to fill in the light on everyone's faces and also carefully angle everyone to get as much blue in the sky as possible.  That along with basically four babies in the photo made for a bit of a challenge!  I was very pleased with the result though.  It came out better than I thought possible for a middle of the afternoon portrait in direct sunlight.

This family told me they make this same photo year after year - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/250th - Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame rightThey told me that they all make this same pose year after year and having many photos over time showing it.  I am glad to contribute the 2013 version of it!

Candid kids playing on Indian Rocks Beach - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/9 ISO 200 1/250th natural lightGetting all the babies close together was a no-go even with parents sitting them right next to each other, so leaving them to their own devices I had to do some moving myself to make this candid shot.

12-person family walking down Indian Rocks Beach candid portrait photography - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/500th natural lightA big action shot with 12 people on Indian Rocks Beach which was at least not crowded at that time of the day on a weekday afternoon!