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A Family's Portrait

Discussion in 'Formal Portraits and Weddings' started by taat2d, Oct 4, 2008.

  1. taat2d


    Sep 28, 2007
    When I shot my friend's son for his 1st BDay, she asked me to shoot some family portraits too. They all dressed alike, and wore white shirts. I think some of the white shirts got blown out. Have a look and let me know what you think. These were really the first time I tried shooting portraits using off camera flash. I KNOW i have alot to still learn...



  2. Great job Joe. I really like all three.
  3. Nicely done Joe!

    In the future, for shot #1, have Dad turned in facing the family...not facing away. It makes the group more cohesive to the eye. Mentally, having one's back to a group is seen as a negative thing. :smile:
  4. taat2d


    Sep 28, 2007
    Thanx Anthony. Thanx Gretchen. I never knew about the back thing. I HOPE I remember that for the next time I try this!!
  5. Rules are made to be broken ;-). I like the setup of the first shot. The grouping wouldn't have been as tight if the dad had been facing inward, and the youngest daughter's hand wouldn't have reached his shoulder to pull the family together, which is an endearing part of the pose.

    The family made exposure a challenge by wearing white, but there's enough detail to keep it from looking like a blowout. If you found it desirable, you could always enhance the detail in the whites. But the technicals (exposure, clarity, perspective) are just fine.

    The problem is in the facial expressions. In the first shot, mom looks like you caught her in mid sentence, dad seems skeptical, little sis is doing a closed mouth version of "say cheese", and the birthday boy appears to be about to cry. The real art in this sort of thing isn't in the technicals... it's getting the subjects to relax and relate to each other instead of the camera.
  6. taat2d


    Sep 28, 2007
    Frank I think you hit it right on the head!! AFter getting everything setup and what I thought to be the right lighting I kinda wasn't sure what to do next. By that I mean, I just grabbed the camera and started snapping.I got everyone posed and just said ok say cheese and I clicked the shutter. What's the secret to get everyone to relax and bring the together for the shot?
  7. LindaZ


    Jul 29, 2007
    Wilmington, NC
    For what you had...you did really well Joe. Tell them to shut up about the cheese.... Ok, maybe not but that's usually what I'm thinking.

    Tell them to look as serious as they can...they will try and then burst out laughing trying.
  8. LAW2


    Oct 24, 2006
    I hate the "cheese" smile. I really do. It never looks good and kids just what stop once they start. Sorry its one of the most frustrating things for me. If I can't get any natural smiles I have started holding three fingers up and asking them to tell me how many and making a joke about it.
  9. A few thoughts...

    • Don't give the subjects time to get nervous about how they'll look. Set up your camera before you pose them so they don't have to wait.
    • Get them to concentrate on each other instead thinking about the camera. It's helps if they're touching, and OK if they're looking at each other.
    • Put your camera on a tripod, line it up, and then get out from behind it. Talk to the subjects. Entertain them, or get them to entertain each other.
    • Never ask a subject to smile or to "say cheese". All that will get you is an unattractive unnatural expression.
    • Make a funny face at the baby, or ask mom to give him a tickle.

    One of my favorite tricks is to ask subjects to look each other directly in the eye, and try not to smile... which invariably makes them giggle.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Sometimes I'll combine that with a group hug, to get a dynamic pose like this.

    View attachment 262494
  10. taat2d


    Sep 28, 2007
    I probably took about 100 shots. I'd say the first 20-30 I have a MASSIVE 2 foot long shadow going across the whole top of the background. No matter what I did I couldn't get rid of it. The sweat that I had pouring off me was unbelievable!! LOL Now I can laugh about it.

    I tried setting up the lighting in every concievable way. Nothing helped. So I had to resort to bouncing the flash off the ceiling, and using the camera in commander. I guess I should have used my SB900 in commander, with the head tilted up and maybe I wouldn't have needed to bounce the SB600 off the ceiling.

    I PANICKED!!!!!! BIG TIME!!! I was so worried about not being able to correct the lighting problem. Once I got rid of the shadow that was all I cared about. I thought about nothing else other than the lighting looks a hell-ova-lot better now. Hehe. So I ran with that, and just snapped away.

    I really appreciate all the tips given here. Especially about trying to make the subjects look natural and a GREAT way to get them to give you a natural smile!!
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