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|Category:||Portraits and People|
Family portraits - We're starting portrait month with family portraits as they're photos everyone hangs on the wall.
For flattering portraits, pick up a telezoom. A 70-200mm is a popular choice as you can get frame-filling shots without having to be in your subject's face. Make sure you have a tripod to hand but if you adjust the ISO so you can have a reasonably fast shutter speed you'll have no problems shooting handheld. Try to use daylight where possible but if you have one take your battery powered flashgun or even better portable studio flashes with you to remove harsh shadows and illuminate the scene evenly. If you're using a flashgun on your hotshoe you'll find the Interfit Strobies Portrait kit is ideal. It comes with a number of portrait accessories including a snoot and softbox which are all portable and great for trying different portrait techniques.
As they don't take up too much room, take a reflector along with you too. Lastolite and Interfit are just two of the brands that produce reflectors which are great for bouncing light into shadowy areas on your subject's face.
If you're working indoors bright days are best as you'll have lots of light streaming through your windows but keep your subjects out of direct light, both indoors and out, as you'll have contrast problems and they'll also squint. Even though it's good to use natural light where possible, if your subject's backlit you'll also need to use fill-in flash to stop them appearing as a silhouette. A burst of flash will also remove any deep shadows but make sure you get the balance between daylight and flash right as if you use too much flash your images won't look natural. If you decide to use a few extra flashes, have a look around your scene for the places they'll produce the most even light in your shot and do remember children have a short attention span so setting the lights up while they have a break or before they get to the shoot is a good idea.
If you're shooting outdoors in a location that's unfamiliar make sure you do your research and visit before the actual day. That way you'll be able to check to see if any additional lighting is needed and you'll know where the sun will be before the family arrives so they won't be left twiddling their thumbs while you spend time figuring out what needs to go where.
When it comes to the actual shoot, some people need more direction than others but do remember you'll always get fantastic pictures if you just watch the family enjoy each others company and the space they're in. Meeting before can help break the ice and even if you know the family, always remember it's your job to make them feel comfortable in front of the camera. Try a few poses as this will give the family a variety of images to chose from at the end. Full length, 3/4's and head and shoulders shots are a good selection to take. You may need to position the family closer together than you first thought otherwise they won't look like they know each other! Just remember posing them too much will make them feel uncomfortable and bored which will show in the final image – and this applies especially with children so break the posed shots up with some breaks that will give you chance to capture some off-the-cuff photos.
You've read the article, now go take some fantastic images. You can then upload the pictures, plus any advice and suggestions you have into the dedicated Photo Month forum for everyone at ePHOTOzine to enjoy.