Digital Photo Academy

Learn How To Use Your Digital Camera

Family Portrait in the Studio

MG5H2680_ret.jpg © Michael Thoennes

When photographing a family it is very important to be quick and ready especially when young children are involved because of their limited attention span. Be prepared the moment they arrive. Also be sure to maintain a fun and casual atmosphere so that you have an opportunity to capture unique moments. In the examples provided (thanks to DPA students Mauricio, Stephen and Stuart) my family is posed in completely different manners. I cherish both because they portray separate facets of our family. In one, we are tightly grouped, holding each other and leaning into each other showing our close affection. Ask your subjects to relax and lean into each other with an arm or hand positioned on the person closest. It helps to encourage them, otherwise many people tend to stiffen. In the second we are hamming it up. The result is a fun pose that shows our tendency to be energetic and fun.

MG5H2684_ret.jpg © Michael Thoennes

Remember to take multiple shots. Do not bracket the exposure because the expressions are most important. If you miss your exposure by a little this can be fixed. Closed eyes and distorted faces are not so easy. As you shoot more frames the people will loosen a bit and with more options a good outcome is more likely. Also of importance is simplicity of background. A busy background would diminish the subject. Place your group 10-12 feet from the background and fill the frame. The clothing is selected so that no one individual stands out with a red shirt for example. Some families like to dress in one style shirt. These ideas should be addressed before the shoot date. Of course if there′s a spontaneous moment to gather a family, do it. Finally, and absolutely important, a soft even light makes casually posing groups more successful. In this example we used a background light with an incident meter reading +1.5 greater than our exposure (f11), f 16.5. This insured that the background was white. Using a softbox in the foreground and a beauty dish the foreground was evenly lit for the group to pose within a block (an area marked where lighting is consistent). A good solution for those without a studio is to choose a shaded side of the house using a solid area of a wall as the background or a large hedge. Use an aperture of no less than f 8 to insure that all people are in focus and use your on camera flash as a fill light for a little sparkle and added contrast. Take lots of pictures and engage the group with encouragement. SMILE. YOU GUYS LOOK GREAT. ONE MORE. LOOK UP, ON THREE LOOK AT ME. ONE MORE. AND AGAIN. THANKS! Be fun and they′ll likely suggest a pose. Or some photographers are successful thoughtfully posing each person. Its your choice, your style.


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