Technique

How To Take Excellent Family Portraits

Do you find yourself disappointed with the family portraits that you have taken in the past? There are a few great tips that you should use to improve the pictures you take. Plan ahead if at all possible. You can occasionally end up with great photographs when doing an unplanned photoshoot, but preparation usually produces a better outcome.

Think about how many people you want to fit into the portrait. If you have three to six people, try arranging family members in small groups. Pretend that you can draw a triangle from the faces of each person (arranging them with some standing up, and some sitting or the smaller members of the family in front of taller ones.) For larger groups, it is important to make sure that people’s faces aren’t covered up and that everyone stands close together so that they fit in the shot. Arrange the people in a staggered pattern, again you can use the idea of drawing triangles of different sizes with the faces as points in the triangle. This makes for an interesting arrangement if you don’t have a giant group to photograph.

Clothing is an important consideration. Many people are tempted to dress everyone in white shirts, but this is usually a bad idea. White will wash out the skin tones of some people and is not compliment all skin shades. Ideal colors would be shades of blue(denim is great for informal portraits,) tan, red, grey, and black. Solid colors are a good idea as vertical stripes or large patterns can be distracting and don’t always show a person’s figure at their best.

Shooting portraits that include children can be challenging. Get as much help explaining expectations to the kids and be prepared to be a little goofy or silly to keep their attention when trying to get everyone to look at the camera and smile. Having an assistant with you to wave a colorful toy or instruct the children to say a silly phrase while you are getting the shot is very helpful. The most important thing to remember is that children can often be frustrated, tired, and impatient (adults can be too!) You really have a limited time to work with when taking family portraits that include children.

Lighting may be the most important consideration when taking family portraits. Being aware of lighting conditions can make the difference between a good picture and an excellent one. If the sun is shining over your shoulder into the faces of your family members, you are going to get a picture with everyone squinting. Placing people under a tree while the sun shines down through the leaves might sound nice, but it will result in a dappled light look and a disappointing picture. If you are taking photos outside, the best time for the best lighting would be during the “golden hour.” This would be one or two hours before sunset.

If portraits are taken indoors, then make sure that the room has plenty of light and you have not placed direct light shining on the people. One of the best ways to get good lighting in a photograph taken indoors is to use an on-camera flash. Point the lighting part of the flash up at the ceiling and you will bounce a nice, soft light onto your family.

There are reasons why some pictures look great and others are disappointing. Unplanned family portraits are unlikely to produce great results, but if you keep in mind these simple tips, you and your family will be happier with the results.

5 Simple Tricks to Improve Lighting in Your Photographs

Before heading out for your next photo shoot, there are a few things every photographer must consider. There is composition, color, subject matter, and depth. All of these areas can be directly affected by the most simple and vital tool that is at their disposal: lighting. Here are some simple tricks to help improve the lighting in your shots and ensure a stunning capture

1) Front-Lighting

This is the least dramatic of the lighting sources, but it is the most useful. Having the subject of your photo pointed directly at the source to completely illuminate the area. If you are taking a portrait of a person, having the source directly in front of them can make them squint and ruin a lovely image. Instead, you can have it pointed at a slight angle from either the left or the right to get a better shot. 

2) Broad Light Source

Broad lighting is a technique used so that the brighter side of the subject you are capturing is closer to the camera. This will frame the subject very well, but it will cast a softer effect than if you used a more focused source. The broader range will also cast fewer shadows and may even fuzz the texture of your subject. If you only have access to narrow lighting, you can broaden it by using reflectors or diffusers like an umbrella to bounce the light from. 

3) Utilize Shadows

Shadows are another useful tool for photo savvy. They can help to define spaces, direct the eye towards what it should be focused on in the photo, and will even give a sense of depth. You can alter it in a photo editing program, but you can also do it by changing the light source’s direction and bringing it either closer or further away from the subject. Don’t be afraid to play with it to make your picture truly stand out. 

4) Color Temperature

Though, to the naked eye, a subject may appear as one color, when you take a photo of it the color may alter slightly. The best example of this is when you use the color white. When looking at it directly, the subject will appear to have no color at all. That is because our eyes cannot perceive it. However, when looking through a camera lens, the sensors within the camera will pick it up and record it as such. The best way to utilize lighting for this is to keep in mind what the color may come out looking like. Using early morning or late afternoons, the natural sunlight will add blush to colors and add a softening effect you cannot get artificially. 

5) Place Light Source Close to Subject

The further the light source is from the subject, the harder it is to define its features. Also, if it is too far away you will get more of a silhouette look than you will a portrait. By placing the lighting source closer, you will broaden it and make the subject of your photo so that it is illuminated evenly and naturally. It will also help to affect the flow of the image and direct where the eye is supposed to go as someone looks at it for the first time. Play with range to get the image you are looking for.

Mastering The Art of Black and White Photography

In order to take a quality monochromatic photo, you will need to keep a few things in mind. So, without further ado, here are the basic do’s and don’ts of black and white photography:

A dynamic color photo does not necessarily work in black and white. Monochromatic tones are a whole different story and can completely change the way the tones interact and the type of depth you will get in your picture. If you intend to shoot black and white, you should shoot for black and white–and that means checking the image in black and white to make sure it works.

Check how the photo looks before you take it if you can. If you cannot change the setting of your camera because your camera phone does not have the option to do so, then try switching to the monochrome filter on your camera. However, remember that filters are not the same as true black and white technology such as black and white film, as they are a preset filter added to an existing digital color image rather than the light of the image being interpreted by a series of chemicals. If you are shooting on a digital camera, you can switch to monochrome easily. 

If you are shooting on film, you will need a light meter–and education on the logistics of how to use one.

A beautiful black and white image have depth, dimension, and contrast. In black and white photography, the tone is simply where the shade falls on the scale from black to white. Because there are no color differences to visually separate objects and their planes and angles, objects which stand out as separate in real life can actually blend together and look dimensionless in black and white photography. For example, a bright red balloon will stand out with little effort in color photography, but in black and white, the red falls on the darker side of the scale and can even read as though it is a shadow if the surrounding area does not have sufficient contrast. Tones often blend together and it is more difficult to create a dynamic image that tells you where to look and what is most important. You will need an image that has a lot of tonal variation–which is not the same as a color variation. 

One way to create tonal variation is sunlight and shadow. Morning and early evening have strong sunlight and shadow, which will create the variation needed to clearly distinguish the dimension of objects. For example, if you are shooting a person’s portrait, you will need to create shadows in the right places so that the face has angles and does not appear to be without structure. A light from above will create a different structure than light from below, so experiment before shooting on where the light looks best (word to the wise, light from below almost never looks good). 

With this in mind, you will have to be aware that if you are shooting images that are not staged (outdoor, natural, etc), there will be an element of composition which you cannot fully control. Being prepared with a light meter is essential, and knowing these components to photography on a digital camera with manual settings and retractable lenses is also essential. Even though you will not technically need a light meter for a digital camera, a light meter is still more accurate than your camera’s sensor and you need to understand the exact amount of contrast that will be in your image in order to take a beautiful photograph with depth and dimension.

Tips For Working With Kids In Photo Shoots

When it comes to photography, our 20th-century cellphones just would not do. Enter 21st century and photography has progressed from hanging your prints on a line to being able to easily upload them to the computer in a matter of seconds. Though photography has progressed, the hassle of getting the perfect picture is all the same. And wherever children are involved, you can be sure there is some work to follow. Photographing children takes not only patience but equally, cooperation.

When taking photos for the sake of the child, it is important to be understanding with them. Photographing an immobile infant can be simpler if you focus on their eyes for instance. More likely than not, infants are attracted to light and sound. Providing them with either, to get their attention, can give you the quick focus you need to set your camera to focus on the baby’s eyes. After all, eyes are the key to truth.

Photography is the best form of expression and children manage to bring out those feelings. Sometimes, it takes for you to interact just a little more with a child. For mobile children, getting down on their level is an option for interacting with them and experiencing their expression on their level. Children always look up to adults, but when you come down to their level, they find that they can equally be accommodated in the proper circumstances. They are more willing to cooperate with your pictures or even give you the perfect circumstance for candid photos.

The background of the photoshoot should be able to express the vibe of the session. Let the background be simple in order to enhance the child as the focal point of the picture. Take various shots of everything, you never know which picture might be the greatest. After all, a body in motion does not just stop without force.

Above all else, the best tool to use when in session with a child or multiple children is simply to show yourself. Don’t just hide behind the camera and expect decent pictures. Express yourself and get acquainted with the children first. Let them express themselves and figure out the best way to go about the shoot.

If all else fails, let them be free! Children are naturally inclined to resist the things that they do not want. Ultimately, children’s pictures should express their fun-loving nature. If you are prepared for an adventure, let them enjoy the experience of nature. Catch them in the act of fun and you are guaranteed to get shots worth keeping for their families. Play with them and have fun. Make sure they enjoy their picture-taking experience and you will enjoy taking their pictures.

Certain situations require more patience and understanding. As a photographer or even as a parent, if you are searching for the perfect picture, you have to be willing to make it happen. Whether sitting in a studio or taking your photography on the move, photographing children takes the special skill of being able to find common ground. Get on their level so they can understand the value of the moments you are capturing. Show them your friendly side and they will be willing to cooperate. Ideally, children love to play. Allow them the freedom to be happy and free during your photo session and they are sure to provide you with smiles for great quality pictures.