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The sun is out and shining bright. The sky is blue and the grass is green. Summers here and it seems everyone is wanting a new family portrait on the beach, at the park, or in downtown.
Here are some things to keep in mind when creating family portraits:
Most of all, spend some time asking questions of what the family wants. Make a general determination if they are looking for more casual shots, or formal arrangements. So long as you know the general direction of what the family is looking for, you can score big in the capture.
May 2, 2012 07:33 pm
What if it's the middle of the day and you can't find any shade? How do you use your flash? How do you change your flash settings, on the camera body or on the external flash itself?
April 11, 2012 12:02 pm
Looks like someone else likes your images a lot and is passing it off as his along with countless others.
October 27, 2011 03:13 am
What do you do about the person in the group who doesn't want their picture taken and therefore stirs up the rest of the group?
October 4, 2011 04:32 pm
Dear Tami McNeil,
Have you tried the site esupport.sony.com? There are many manuals and handbooks there.
December 29, 2010 04:29 pm
The tips are generally very good, but the photo doesn't back them up.
Joey has a lot of good points. If you're going to blog, you should know basic grammar, punctuation and spelling. "Your" is possessive and "you're" means "you are." Just always think of the apostrophe as a replacement for missing letters. Note that the period and comma belong inside the quotes. (ex. Remember “levels.” / such as “vibrant," “bold,” “pastels,”) I also agree with all of Joey's comments about photography.
Here are a few other things to remember.
1. You should always make sure your horizon is straight unless the goal is to do an edgy obviously slanted horizon. I understand that this photo was taken from a low viewpoint on purpose, but these people look like they're all sitting on a hill; however, it's not slanted enough to appear as if it's an intentional slant.
2. If you're selling a photo, you SHOULD stress about avoiding splotchy lighting. Reflectors or fill flash can be used to avoid it. If it's just your own family in the shot, then you can get away with it and maybe fix it in Photoshop.
3. Make sure the colors (white balance) are accurate and everything doesn't look too yellow.
4. It's distracting (and kind of ugly) to show the bottoms of a subject's shoes.
5. Make sure parts of people's faces are not hidden behind other people (like the man's chin).
This picture could be improved somewhat in Photoshop by using levels or curves, straighten tool, and color adjustments.
December 4, 2010 06:25 am
On a bright sunny day, find a spot of shade, an overhang, or any place where the sun isn't shining directly on your subjects at or near midday. If that is not possible, then put the sun behind them and use something to reflect some light back towards them. A white poster board, a wall behind you, anything that is light, neutral colored and reflects some softer light. A white vehicle even works. Learn to be creative with what you have on hand. While the tree is a great setting, you may want to be creative in your positioning of your subjects and/or the positioning and angle you are shooting from to try to eliminate background clutter. It that is not an option use an aperture of f8.0, 5.6 or possibly 4.0 and a longer lens (telephoto lens) to blur the cluttered background. Pro lenses often open up to f2.8 or more to create a great bokeh (that nicely blurred background). Take you camera to a mall, park or other public place and inconspicuously practice some of this. It is a great way to improve by practice, and you can self critique your efforts.
August 20, 2010 06:36 am
I couldn't agree more. He needs to zip it. Talks too much.
What I do in photoshop is to make a layer that is solid white on top of the photo, then tone down the opacity of the layer to 2-5 or which ever would make you happy. That usually gives me a softer or a washed out effect. I hope that helps
March 31, 2010 03:36 pm
We're all real proud of your accomplishments and apostrophe knowledge...If I were a photographer in 1927, your ideas might be relevant....and even then, your ideas would be outdated.
Great tips, Christina!
March 27, 2010 12:09 am
thanks for the tips for families. I have a large family photo shoot next week (11 people) and I wanted to get some creative ideas going for them. Thanks so much...you've helped me a lot with your posts.
July 21, 2009 11:54 pm
I meant "gig." "Family portraits GIG."
July 21, 2009 11:53 pm
Oooo! The thoughts on storyboarding and groups of 2s and 3s are pure gold! Thanks for that! I never would have thought of that!
I may have my first family portraits give in August. *fingers crossed*
July 21, 2009 03:02 am
Great tips!! Thanks for sharing! We're having a baby this fall so I'll put them to good use!
July 17, 2009 02:46 am
Where can I get more info on my camera? I have a Sony a350. I love the camera but, have trouble using it properly and therefore get bad outcome. Where can I purchase a DVD on my camera and details about how to work it properly. I have checked with different people locally and no one can help me.
Please let me know asap...very frustrated!
Thanks for your time
July 8, 2009 02:55 pm
i wonder to know how to make the color so soft like that...can you tell me please... i lke the color.
please e-mail me at (email@example.com)
July 5, 2009 03:53 pm
Tip #9: Don't crop people at joints. There are very few things more disturbing to the subconscious brain when looking at portraits than to see someone cut off at the knee, elbow, ankle, wrist, etc... (such as the lady on the left side of the example image in this post)
Tip #10: Don't schedule outdoor shoots between 11:00AM and 3:00PM on clear, sunny days unless you're A) not shooting in direct sunlight [ex: effectively using open shade, reflectors or diffusion panels] or B) have the correct lighting equipment and knowledge of lighting ratios so you can balance out the inevitably harsh sunlight.
Tip #11: If you want your clients to respect you as a professional, do not get the usage of your and you're mixed up unless they haven't made it past the 5th grade. It hurts everyone involved.
Tip #12: DO NOT CENTER THE SUBJECT IN YOUR VIEWFINDER. The only exception to this rule when you are first learning photography is if you are taking a meter reading or locking focus and then re-framing the scene. When you press that shutter, if your subject is in the direct middle of your photo you have lost the game (unless of course you were going for that ironic, devil-may-care, trendy, hipster kitsch look).
For extra street cred and 50 cool points: Take your subject out to the beach at 12:00noon on a cloudless day without supplemental lighting or reflectors of any kind, center your subject in the frame (making sure to lop them off at the wrist and knee or ankle), add a super cool vignette in post (+10 cool points for taking laziness one-step further and using a vignette action you found on DeviantArt) and then sell the client a $200 11x14 print. You may then and only then call yourself an "accomplished, award-winning, professional" photographer.
At least that's what flickr and craigslist are teaching people nowadays.
July 3, 2009 10:18 am
thanks guys for sharing! i love dps every time u email me i always find time to read all your posts! thanks and keep up the good work!
July 3, 2009 08:19 am
Have just seen the next article - hyperfocal distance! Brilliant - just what I need. Thank you so much!
July 3, 2009 08:18 am
Yes- I've got these great large aperture lenses but the short depth-of-field means photographing more than one person at a time is tricky, and it's difficult to tell if anyone's out of focus unil seen on a big screen. Using flash helps, but not always the effect I'm after - how can you set the depth of field securely for a group?
July 3, 2009 07:54 am
"The more people you have in a shot, the less time you have to create it."
What do you mean by this? Just hoping you might expand on that thought some.
July 3, 2009 04:10 am
Thanks, for the tips. I was thinking about shooting our family photos this weekend. I haven't ever taken any family photos yet, So I will be practicing on my family. These tips will definitely help. Thanks again.
July 3, 2009 03:58 am
Very helpful. Thank you. Important too: "spirits of play" to help lighten up the troops. A line I've used with good success: "Now everyone POSE REALLY HARD for me." When they laugh, I "grab" the shot/shots.
July 2, 2009 09:21 am
Good tips. One thing that surprised me a bit, though, was the large depth of field. Not judging good or bad, but I'm just surprised to see so much of the background in focus.
July 2, 2009 02:35 am
Great Tips on Portraits. Nice Layout. on blogs. Thanks for sharing! :)
July 2, 2009 01:55 am
thanks really for the tips .. very useful ..
btw chris, I loved your website ... the angles you are choosing is really amazing .. i love it
July 1, 2009 05:54 pm
I like this.
How can you get equal ligting on such a sunny day? Any tips for that as well?
July 1, 2009 04:03 pm
mini group in the large group. that's a cool suggestion. thanks
July 1, 2009 03:42 pm
(Wrong form of your/you're in #s 4 and 5.)
July 1, 2009 03:04 pm
In family photo, just like in any photos where people appear, using light can change a cliche photo to something more special.
Of course, it's not only the light, but that's just one example.
See here - http://www.ilanbresler.com/2008/10/reflections.html
July 1, 2009 02:39 pm
Putting people in some kind of little groups is a great idea. I did this for a bridal party photo and it came out real well. It is so much better than having people in a straight line or staggered. Thank you for this post!
July 1, 2009 02:20 pm
I really like the "mini groups" suggestion, thinking of arranging people this way makes SO MUCH MORE SENSE to me now. Thanks!
July 1, 2009 12:39 pm
Thank you so much for this post, Christina! I love the tips and appreciate your good timing. I am stressing out about a large family portrait session I have scheduled for August 1st. I've never done a group of 16 people (5 of them babies/preschoolers). Now I'm thinking about it a little differently. :) Thanks!
July 1, 2009 10:48 am
Very nice tips!... i have a family portrait coming up in a few weeks and these tips WILL help....thanks you DPS...
July 1, 2009 10:32 am
Great tips, I'll see if I can try it next time I'm with the family.
July 1, 2009 08:43 am
This is really cool thanks for the thoughts. I saw the word storyboarding in your article, so I went and looked up storyboarding regarding photography (I know they do it for films) and learned something else new! Two things in one day, can't beat that! :D Thanks
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