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So I took some family portraits...

Discussion in 'Portrait' started by fractal, Nov 14, 2017.

  1. fractal

    fractal TalkEmount Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 17, 2014
    Southeastern PA
    and have learned that group portraits are more challenging than single portraits.

    After seeing some of my other portraits, a mother asked me to shoot portraits of her family of 5. Here's what I learned.

    Forget shooting "wide-open" unless you only want one of the 10 eyes in the photo in focus. Even f/4 is a challenge depending on the focal length and distance to subjects. Way too many of my photos were out of focus and had to be discarded.

    Posing a group is challenging and hard work. Also requires some experience, patience (on both ends) and feel for your subjects. Small details matter - where a hand is placed, how the hand looks, head tilts, smiles, hair out of place, clothing, etc, etc. all multiplied by the number of people in the photo.

    Family dynamics can throw you for a loop. Tension between spouse and arguments among siblings are to be expected. Have to make sure the group stays focused on the shoot.

    Check your settings before and during the shoot. I started out shooting a FE 85mm 1.8 w/ steady shot then switched to my Olympus 50mm OM 1.4 - but the manual IBIS was set to a focal length of 28mm! Didn't pick up on that until later - more blurry shots!.

    Again - patience is important. I had 2 parents and 3 teenagers on a chilly afternoon. The mother was really the only one that wanted to be there. There were times I felt the pressure of the "annoyed" teens as I was prepping for the next shot and felt myself rushing.

    Have a plan - I knew the area we were going to and had in my mind the spots I wanted to shoot at - I also researched and had with me a number of sample poses for a group of 5.

    In the end I ended up with a good number of keepers, but as I was editing the photos I was wishing I had a second chance. It was a real learning experience. Here are a few...

    ILCE-7RM2    FE 85mm F1.8    85mm    f/4.0    1/80s    ISO 100

    ILCE-7RM2    ----          1/640s    ISO 100

    I used my Godox 685 speedlight, Godox X1t trigger and umbrella for the last ones.

    ILCE-7RM2    ----          1/60s    ISO 640

    ILCE-7RM2    ----          1/60s    ISO 400

    ILCE-7RM2    ----          1/60s    ISO 320

    ILCE-7RM2    ----          1/50s    ISO 160

    ILCE-7RM2    ----          1/50s    ISO 250

    Feedback welcome!
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  2. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    #4 is my favorite! Nailed the framing on that one imho (no cut off hands, elbows)

    I find the last one pretty “unbalanced” composition and posing wise and with an unflattering shadow on the dad (and its reflection on the bench)

    Overall it looks like you did well for your first time - keep it up ;) 
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  3. WNG

    WNG TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 12, 2014
    Arrid Zone-A, USA
    Very nice work! The lighting looks very good. I liked how the photos' progression also showed a progression of those that seemed to be the ones not wanting to be there, loosened up their expressions and the tension left their faces. Made the family portraits more genial. Favorites are 5 and 6.
    The last one probably needed a more spontaneous reaction on their faces. Perhaps have some really good jokes handy to draw their attention and crack out an honest expression. I know what you mean about impatient and uncooperative teenagers! :p 
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  4. christilou

    christilou TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Nov 26, 2012
    Surrey, UK
    Nice shots. I do that too, examine what went wrong as I did at the wedding I went to in June :)  It's good to learn from your mistakes. These look pretty good to me, colour is a bit inconsistent here and there and this is something I struggle with myself. I like number 4 but I like number 5 better, something just a tad more spontaneous in their expressions I think.
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  5. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Legend

    Oct 8, 2013
    Excellent informative summary of issues dealing with group portraits like those...#5 happens to strike me as the overall best in terms of everyone having a fairly relaxed / genuine smile, etc.
    Good work !
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