a Family Portrait Shoot
– For this weeks Featured Image of the Week I wanted to share a shot from a recent Family Portrait Shoot with Sam, John and baby Syd. The core of my business photography is corporate and product photography and my personal photography passions are travel, landscape and wildlife so this might seem out of place. But like all photographers there’s more that we do that isn’t always shared. In my case I shoot plenty of portraits, headshots and sometimes even weddings. I rarely share those images because my company branding requires me to stick to my core products – but today I’m going to go ahead and talk a bit about shooting family portraits on location.
Sam and John have been good friends for some time and Sam has even been a featured model for me on a shoot. When their family expanded with the arrival of Sydney I knew I’d get the chance to take a family picture some day. Unfortunately the family is relocating so I may not be seeing them as often as I want so getting to take an autumn family portrait for them became super important to me.
Sam is a pro when it comes to being in front of a camera and John has obviously been in a picture or two himself. Syd, on the other hand, still has some room to grow as a portrait model so this was going to be a challenge for me to catch all three of my subjects looking great at the same time.
Sam lives extremely close to the extremely scenic Holmes Park with a great walking/biking path, lots of open spaces, plenty of trees and even a great waterway provided by Holmes Run (part of Northern Virginia’s Cameron Run Watershed). Before the shoot Sam and I walked the Holmes Run Trail so scout some locations. We considered a number of locations before coming across an awesome location with a rock wall, a small hill and bunch of options to get different shots without moving very much (something that is especially important with a 6 month old along for the shoot).
With a location figured out we went back to get the rest of the family and the gear I’d be using to get the shots.
Because the location would involve a considerable amount of walking I decided to go super light weight with my Sony A6000, a Sony 35mm f1.8 lens, a Sony 50mm f1.8 lens, two LumoPro LP-160 hot-shoe flashes, a tri-flash adaptor, an 8 foot light stand and a 30 inch umbrella used as a shoot-through diffuser. Because we were outside I wasn’t worried about spill lighting so I left the soft boxes back in my car. To trigger my flashes I used my Cybersync system and to get a little added autumn color I used a half cut of CTO gel on my flashes.
Because it was a portrait shoot and I was using off-camera flash my A6000 was set to Manual mode to let me take control of every setting. The flashes were set to 1/2 power (using two got me the output I needed and the lower power setting meant the flash was ready to go without waiting for the flash to be recycle). I chose a shutter speed of 1/125th of a second at ISO 400 and the exposure was controlled by moving the aperture between f5.6 and f8.
the First Location
The early shots worked great and I absolutely loved the location we chose. It was a truly flexible spot that wasn’t in the high traffic of the walking path and by making small changes to where my subjects were located I was able to get plenty of different backgrounds without having to move all my equipment. Here’s a look at the location as I was getting a few quick test shots:
From that one spot we took a bunch of shots before we moved to our second, and final, shooting location.
the Second Location
On our way back we stopped at an opening to get a few more shots before officially calling the shoot a wrap. Again I used my single flash setup (with two hot-shoe flashes for added power) and we got a few more images including the one I’m featuring in this article. Here’s a look at the location and flash setup:
The final location wasn’t quite as flexible as the first location but we made the most of it before Syd decided she had enough of being in a photo shoot. One of the last shots we got was the one I’m featuring today. Here’s another look at the finished image captured from this second location using a couple of hot-shoe flashes:
When I started this article I said that I don’t advertise the portrait side of my photography as much as my corporate and product photography. The fact that I don’t share my portrait experiences doesn’t mean I don’t love this kind of photography. On this day I was reminded of just how much fun photographing people on location really is and I can’t wait to do it again, soon.
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