Family portraits are the biggest and most important part of our business at The Storytellers, and here in Meridian, Idaho we have some of the best fall colors in the North West. So, naturally our busy season explodes with those fall colors from September through November.
As Wall Portrait Specialists, it’s our goal to create images that include the natural beauty of Idaho’s fall colors and at the same time make our clients look good while obviously enjoying themselves. We must make their portrait session Memorable and Fun!
It all begins with planning based on experience and expertise in Natural Light, Environmental, Portraiture—also our speciality. In our 30+ years doing environmental portraits I’ve learned that how to pick the environment (the background) and where to place my subjects within that environment are the two most important factors that sell wall portraits. Most of the technical things that we as photographers think about and obsess over are unimportant to our clients. If we can make Them Look Good in a pretty setting they’re happy!
We use half-a-dozen public locations in City or State parks and common areas in housing developments. We will also use our client’s homes if their property has nice trees, lawn, or other features that would make a nice background.
In order to qualify for use I must first do a location check of their home at the optimum time of day appropriate for the time of year. Generally we do outdoor portraits about 2 hours before sunset most of the year. In addition I’m looking for the sun to be setting behind a background of trees or bushes that will add color and light behind my subjects.
However, most of our clients homes can’t compete, especially in the fall, with our major parks….
|f7.1 @ 1/100 sec., ISO @1250 Lens @ 95mm|
We did this family's session at Kathryn Albertson Park in Boise, Idaho last October. We started their session by doing a traditional posed grouping on that big log on the ground, but when the kids started climbing into the tree we moved mom and dad in front and did a quick fun grouping before we moved on to the next location. It turned out that this became one of their favorites and they ordered this as a large canvas wrap; just ONE of their Wall Portraits!
TECHNICAL NOTES: Using our new Canon 6D Mk II:
Note the ISO of 1250 I used on this image. This is the highest ISO I have, to date, used and produced a beautiful Large Wall Print (24x36”); I could have easily gone to 30x40”! I had to go to ISO 1250 because I wanted an f-stop of f7.1 for the depth-of-field to cover this rather deep grouping. Still that ISO only got me a shutter speed of 1/100 sec. So it was good I used a tripod. I always use a tripod on group portraits anyway because I want no changes in framing, perspective, or focal length as I click off ten or so images of each set-up. That gives Kathi a series of like images that are easier to edit in Photoshop for common jobs like head swaps.
Moving to our next location….
f6.3 @ 1/160 sec., ISO 800; Lens @ 123mm
It’s about an hour before sunset at this point, but we had more light in this spot so I was able to bring my ISO down to 800. Here, using one of our posing rocks, Kathi created a nice diagonal in this grouping. We always like to vary people’s head heights for a more pleasing composition in portraits. This image was also selected by these clients as another large Wall Portrait.
Next we did what we call “the breakdowns”….
f6.3 @ 1/125 sec., ISO 500; Lens @ 200mm
“The Breakdowns” are the sub-group combinations; in this the three kids followed by mom and dad together and then each of the kids as individuals. We do ANY combinations our clients request; we don’t mind giving them lots of choices. This is why we don’t have a time limit (or hourly fee) on our sessions.
We had a great time with this family and it’s obvious they had fun on their portrait session. In fact all of our fall sessions last year were gorgeous and fun for all!
Have a question don’t hesitate to ask…’Til next week!
Author: Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman
Training site: http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com
Client site: http://www.TheStorytellersUsa.com
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