Thursday, May 08, 2014

5 Simple Steps to Great Family Portraits

With a combination of a little patience and a lot of planning, taking your family's portrait should be a breeze. Build a repertoire of basic group poses, like the ones here, and you'll be on your way to a fantastic gallery wall of your own portraits in no time!

Let's get started!

1. Location, location, location. Scout out your yard or local park to find a nice area with open shade that will give you even, diffuse light. Avoid getting hotspots on any of your family members by making sure they are completely in the shade, not in a dappled sunlight area. No one wants a shiny forehead.

In the shot below, we headed out to the backyard and found some really great open shade that evenly lit Dr. SmartyPants and Jasper, but I really didn't like the area in the background. Pay close attention to the background! It can make or break your shot. Use the playback feature on your camera to really evaluate what is going on behind your subject.

   Jasper Smiling

In the next shot, below, I moved my view just a little until the weedy parts of the yard were hidden, and nothing but green grass was showing. It always pays to take a few test shots before you get the whole family involved. Which brings me to point two...

 2. Pre-shoot. Find your most cooperative family member, or members, and place them in your chosen area to set up your exposure and focus. The more you do here, the more efficiently your session will go. Obviously, I chose Dr. SmartyPants - man of infinite patience - for my test subject. Chico did pretty well, too.


3. Arrange the humans. Trust me. If you are including your family pets in the photograph, they need to wander around and sniff all the things while you get your humans in place. This applies to toddlers and pre-schoolers, as well. Get all the non-fidgety people placed, make sure your lighting is perfect, then bring in the wigglers.

4. Shoot fast. There's nothing worse than sitting through a session where the photographer just keeps going and going and going. You've got everything set up already - just take the picture! Use a high burst mode to help you avoid the dreaded blinks of half the crowd - you're bound to get one where everyone is looking at the camera with their eyes open. Just fire off a burst, check your settings, make whatever quick adjustments you need, fire off another burst and call it a day. Trust your pre-work.

Posed Portrait

Once you've done all that, it's time to move on to the last step...

5. Let them goof off. Finish the session by letting everyone loose. Keep the camera firing on continuous drive and tell everyone you're finished. That's when the real family portraits show up!


See what I mean...
  Real Portrait

Alright - your turn! Get out there and grab some great shots of your own family, okay?