Tuesday, January 03, 2012

family portrait

One child is a missionary, visiting from another continent. Another child is an out-of-state college student. When will we see this family all together again? Nobody knows.

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The mom asked me to take a family portrait, and between everybody's hectic schedules, we only had the one opportunity, so here's what I did. I scoured the web for samples of family portraits, to see if I could get some ideas for lighting and positioning. When I went to the house, I had three rough sketches for suggested poses. This is the first time I started a project with a drawing.

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Mrs. Craver accompanied me, and was a tremendous help because she notices things that escape my attention. After I explained that I need to work on the camera settings and positioning of the flash, I said that they could relax, and I would tell them when I was ready to take the actual pictures. They ended up with three final proofs, but it took sixty shots to get there. Portraits have been my biggest photographic challenge.

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I feel pretty good about the idea to separate them into two groups. Mom & Dad are together in the foreground, and their grown children are clumped together about a foot behind them. If I had not done that, I would have dwarfed the parents, because these kids are so tall! The back wall is creme colored, or off white, but solid. I got that look by placing two incandescent lamps on the floor behind the family and two bounced flashes lit the family. What do you think... any helpful advice? What would you have done differently?

13 comments:

Chris said...

I don't know what I would have dome differently, cause I find this shot very good.... What would you change to it? That is the best question... If you are happy with it, then you got it ;-)
Thanks for visiting my blog again, and I also wish you a happy and glorious new year ;-)
And oh, sorry if you stole all your snow ;-)

George said...

I'm positive I couldn't have done this well -- I think this is a wonderful portrait. I will file your idea of grouping the parents and children because of the differences in height. That's an idea I can use.

Jackie said...

I like the way you researched to get ideas; very good thinking, Craver.
And....the drawing: genius.
(Thanks to Ms. Craver. I know that her help was invaluable.)
Your lighting and placement of the family members...perfect.
I understand about taking 60 to get 1. Been there...done that.
Your portrait is very nicely done, Craver. I'm sure the family will treasure it for always.
Hugs and smiles,
J.

Craver Vii said...

I'm sure we will end up with plenty of snow, Chris. I have been finding things that I would have liked to change. At one point, I had to just walk away, otherwise I would have frustrated the family. There is only so many times I can get away with saying, "Just one more with..." But I would honestly like to get good feedback.

You liked that? Cool! This was the first time I tried something like that, George. And now, it probably won't be the last. :-)

Whoa... Jackie, I'm not used to hear people call my ideas genius (except for high schoolers, dripping with sarcasm.) It was better than 60:1 though... there were three final (different) shots, so it was actually 20:1. I'm going to feel great about this until the next time I see professional portrait photographers totally destroy my ratio. (lol)

donsands said...

I love it. Lord bless this fam with Your greatest blessings. Amen.

EG Wow said...

This photo turned out very well! What a great idea to search the Internet for inspiration!

imac said...

Well thought out my friend, great shot too.
Did you use any other lighting?

Craver Vii said...

The only bad thing that can be said of this family Sandman is that they keep questionable company (me).

I do old-school research as well, EG. The local library has a lot of photography books. But blogs (such as yours) have been the primary source of inspiration for me. :-)

And speaking of inspiration...

Lighting, Imac? Good question. They were backlit by two incandescent lamps--hence the soft vignetting on the rear wall. There was a large bay window on my right. The sun was high (11AM), on a cloudy day. I used an external flash on my camera, which was angled to bounce off the ceiling, and a remote flash on my left, which I fired backwards (at the wall) for a soft fill. With all that light, I tuned the Exposure Value down a few steps to compensate. That's how I got the rich, warm colors.

mr. dave said...

aww, where's the puppy? nice job,craver!

imac said...

Thanks for the answer my friend, you certainly have got some lighting goods.
Can see you doing grand portraits very soon.

lime said...

i think you did a great job and they will treasure the shot for years. i am a complete novice here so i have no advice.

Shammickite said...

I think it really helps that all your subjects are wearing solid colours.... no highly patterned clothing. This way we can concentrate on the people without distractions.

Craver Vii said...

Mr. Dave, maybe I'll post a pic of their dog for my next post, or on Facebook even.

I am so glad the external flash units worked, Imac. If I can afford it, I hope to get proper flash units from Pentax at some point. This camera is performing for me at a level that is much higher than any previous equipment. The only thing I miss is the option of using a cable release.

Sure, you may call yourself a novice Lime, but you have a good eye and a great mind (albeit twisted). ;-) Your feedback highly valued!

That is to the mom's credit, Shammy. I only had to make one minor change to their apparel. She was very helpful with arranging a very clear spot in their home, especially when they had a lot of Christmas decorations up. That way, the photo could be more about the family, and less about the time or the season.