One of our specialties is doing family portraits, multi-family groups and the occasional family reunion; the more the merrier! Because of our wedding background, we have considerable experience in putting groups together both indoors and outdoors. But our favorite is doing so outside, by natural light, in nice park-like environments—especially in the fall. We start with the most difficult portrait first, when at all possible, the formal large group—especially when there are small kids in the image. Then we do the family sub-groups, the grand or great grand kids with grandma and grandpa and finally a fun one of the whole group…
|f6.3 @ 1/250 sec., ISO 1000; Lens @ 70mm|
At this point we didn’t care if the kids got dirty, so we had everybody throw the fall leaves in the air! You can tell they were now free to enjoy themselves; the parents as well! This image was done just 45 minutes before sunset, so the light is really nice with the sun setting behind them.
We usually start our outdoor sessions about two hours before sunset and since not everybody had arrived at the park yet we started with some individual family groups….
|f7.1 @ 1/80 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 90mm|
For this session we didn’t need to use our posing rocks—the park’s rocks worked just fine. Again, I placed this group with the setting sun behind them to get that nice back-lit glow in the leaves.
When everyone finally arrived we did our first group portrait…
|f7.1 @ 1/80 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 75mm|
I like this setting with the back-lit fall colors behind them and the unusual contrast with the rock bench and column as places to put our subjects. Artistically the only thing that hurts this portrait are the clothing colors. I always suggest that everyone settle on a maximum of two-colors that work together; like navy with burgundy or different shades of one-color (light to medium or medium to dark). That makes the group look more unified and then you can focus on the faces of the people in the portrait and not be distracted by the clothing.
Now this group of families did better…
|f8.0 @ 1/60 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 57 mm|
The different shades of blue and the tans and browns worked better together. For this group we used our posing rocks, so the we could have some people sitting giving us a nice variety of head heights. We like to create triangles and/or diagonals with peoples’ faces in our group compositions. At the same time we keep each family sub-group together and place them around grandma and grandpa. How many triangles do you count?
We’re looking forward to this year’s fall sessions in our great Boise and Meridian (Idaho) parks!
Don’t hesitate to ask questions….’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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