When it’s been 6 months since the whole family has been together and when the newest member of the crew is only 2 month old, than you know it’s time for a family portrait!
Here are a few thoughts from a landscape photographer’s perspective on taking family portraits:
- Watch your aperture. In landscapes, I’m always trying to get both foreground and background in sharp focus so my aperture is usually above f/8.0. For portraits, even a group of people, you’ve got to zoom in and use a lower aperture (f/4.0?) to get the desired bokah in the background. Perhaps you will notice the simi-artificial blur in the background of this picture. Oh, well. It was fun spending time in Photoshop in an attempt to fix my mistake.
- Remember that everyone might not be enjoying the heat. I’ve learned to get used to all kinds of environments and discomforts, but if I’m sweating bullets than it probably means everyone I’m taking a picture of is too. Instead of taking my normal good ol’ time (flowers don’t sweat), I had to do the shoot quickly to insure everyone wasn’t drenched in perspiration by the time I got around to releasing the shutter.
- The foreground is more important than the background. Though I like the background with the house in it, I think it is a little overpowering. Perhaps I should have moved the group further away from the house to make it a less prominent object in the background. I’m just so used to making the most of every element in a composition I guess.
- But you know, I think I actually did do one thing right! The decline on which the family is standing slants away from the camera. Composition wise, this gives a perfect, natural cover for the feet and blanket that we are kneeling on. Also, the composition with the tree leaning in on the left helps to pull the foreground and background together perfectly.
- You can interact with you subject. Imagine that! If folks aren’t in the right position, than I can re-position them anywhere I want to! You can’t exactly do that with trees and boulders very well. In this picture, I took special care to get all the heads on different levels because it helps the group to not look square-ish. When we’re standing, we’re all about the same height so it was kinda hard to accomplish, but it was totally worth the trouble.
So anyway, that’s my two cents on taking family portraits. I hope I can remember these things for the next shoot.