Thursday 19 January 2017

Happy Family

My first shoot of 2017. My niece was 21 at the beginning of 2017 and wanted some family portraits. Her mum, my sister, asked if I would be the photographer. Of course I said yes. I'd wanted to produce some family portraits again. It has been a few years since the last time.

The first thing to decide was, inside or outside. We settled on a studio shoot. It was January after all. There are plenty of studios, but I didn't want just a white infinity cove, or paper roll background. I wanted other areas to shoot in. Furniture, something that resembled a room in a house. The difference being there would be more room than if we used a real house. The owner met me at the beginning of the shoot, showed where everything was and left. If I hadn't used a studio before that could have been a problem.

I already had a clear idea about the pictures needed. My sister and I had talked a week before the shoot. Once I saw the studio I could see how we would achieve them. It was now up to me to lead the group, and keep the session flowing. Be positive and decisive. I wanted them all to relax and enjoy the experience. Not feel uncomfortable. I saw as we went along everyone did become more at ease, but still occasionally they looked a bit stiff, I knew that was not what they wanted. So I thought of a way to distract them. I asked them to look away from me and each other. I would count to three, they would look at me or each other, and I would press the shutter. I think it worked. To relax the session even more I took a picture of them, looking all over the place.

natural laughter

When they realised what I had done they all laughed. Leading to a picture of natural laughter. I think that is one thing that can be difficult to achieve.

The four hours flew past, they were a little surprised how quickly it went, and that I had over three hundred shots. I took that as a good sign, they must have been at ease and enjoyed the session.

I edited a couple of pictures the same evening. And uploaded them. They commented about the black background. How good the pictures looked. I wanted to produce something different. Not just high key portraits against a white background. I was very glad they noticed so quickly.

But the shoot is only half the story. I now have to edit the pictures. Which starts with reducing the number from over three hundred to a more manageable fifty. although now as I edit them, maybe fifty is too many. Next time I'll make it around thirty. I need to set that expectation before the shoot. I'm not sure how many they are expecting. I hope it's not three hundred. A lesson learnt.

I have noticed some family portraits sets appear to have been shot at different times. I'm guessing they weren't. The editing was not consistent. White balance changes from shot to shot. In a studio that shouldn't happen with good lights. The lights I was using were good, but I still noticed differences. It wasn't difficult to fix. I wanted every picture to look it's best, I also wanted the set to look it's best. Ensuring colour temperature was constant, picture to picture, so that skin tone and clothing looked the same in each shot was a basic requirement. I strived for a consistent style to the set. How I cropped some pictures, how they were lit. To give a good balance.

And to top it all. I asked for some feedback, forgetting the family connection. And it was good.

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