Need Family Portrait Advice

Started Oct 8, 2013 | Discussions thread
pauljames1983 Forum Member • Posts: 50
Re: Need Family Portrait Advice
There will be about 9 people and some younger kids. They want a full group shot and individual family shots. The only time they could do it is around 1 pm which I know is a rough time with the sun. They have a very wooded yard on 3 sides which will help. It will be in Massachusetts so fall colors will be in full effect.

Do the group shot in the yard, in the shade. Light the group with the flash, try underexposing the background by 1/2 to 1 stop. You may need to use a ND filter to allow a reasonably large aperture for a controlled amount of isolation of the group from the background, but consequently also quite a bit flash power. A polarizer would help to lower the sky but also act as as a general 2-stop ND anyway. By lowering the exposure of the background, you should be able to accentuate the saturation of the background.

I shoot with a Nikon D600 and have a Nikon 24-70mm 2.8, Nikon 50mm 1.8 and Sigma 70-200mm 2.8. I also have lighting equipment which includes an AlienBees B800 with a large 47" Octabox and 2 Nikon SB600 flashes with some white shoot through umbrellas. I have enough CyberSync wireless transmitters to trigger all the flashes as well.

For the group, don't go too wide else the people on the ends will get stretched (look fat). Use the B800 with the Octabox but without the diffusion panels as your key light set off to the side. Use the SB600s as fill, position to suit. You can also use reflectors to control the lighting of the group. Depending on the lighting ratios and positioning, you may not need to use the shoot through umbrellas.

I am pretty much looking for info of which gear to use, general settings, flash or no flash, how to pose them or anything else you guys feel I should know. I really appreciate any help. Also if you have any websites or any other info that could help me with portraits that would be awesome.

Is there a bench or other object you can position people on? Make sure you have sufficient DoF to cover the group front and back but you may want to still retain some separation from the backgroup. Try a looser, less formal formation. Have the faces at a mixture of levels, not just all of them standing or sitting. For fun, try a typical landscape composition (wide-angle pointed down in portrait orientation with near-far composition) but with the group as the foreground interest.

For individual portraits, just use the 70-200mm. You could go just with natural light but with reflectors for fill. Else, just use a conventional key+fill flash setup but balanced with the background. Play around with DoF, not every portrait needs to be done with the lens wide open and only one eye in focus.

You'll have to supply your own jokes (useful to loosen up your subjects).

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