Archive for November, 2010

Outdoor Portraiture: Photographing Families

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Cooler weather is the perfect time to take the family outdoors for a group portrait.   With these tips, you’ll get some shots you can’t wait to share with loved ones:

Try Different Textures: The fall temperatures mean you can pull out all the fantastically colored scarves, sweaters and hats.  Play with layered looks and change accessories to see which items add that perfect pop op color and texture.

Photograph the Kids First: If your family gathering includes fairly young children, consider photographing them first.  Start with individual shots and let them move around and offer suggestions.  Take a few images of them in action—looking at flowers, sitting on a bench or petting the family dog—and show them what you’ve done so far.  When they see the results, kids are likely to be more cooperative throughout the rest of the photo session.

Invite Friends:  For tweens and teenage kids, invite a friend or two.  Photograph the kids and give them the images to use for their Facebook pages or personal blogs. Again, by making the event enjoyable, they are more likely to cooperate when the time comes for the family shot.

Take the Show on the Road: Consider photographing at a local park where you can experiment with backgrounds and use colorful fall foliage.  We often assume our outdoor photographs must be taken by the lone tree in our backyard, but by making it a road trip, your options expand exponentially. Just make sure to test your cameras batteries and double check that you have everything you need before loading up the car!  If you’re going to be at your location for a while, consider putting some water bottles and snacks in the car to help keep the kids cooperative when hunger strikes.

Get it Together: Make sure you know how to use the delay setting on your camera if you intend on being in the shot.  If possible, play with it a few times prior to your outdoor photography session.  And, of course, your tripod will be indispensable

Take a few test shots without the kids so that you have the background scenery and the basic distance and positioning figured out.  This bit of extra effort will help you get your group in order and get the images taken in pretty quick succession.

Holiday Challenge: Photographing the Thanksgiving Table

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Few things stump the assigned family photographer like trying to shoot a large Thanksgiving table populated with people and decorations.  The traditional table shot is an important annual ritual, and because of this, it’s worth investing in a bit of advanced planning time to make sure you’re ready when everyone sits down to celebrate.

Things to Bring: If at all possible, bring a tripod and a remote trigger for your camera.  A tripod will steady the camera and allow you to try different locations and angles to see what works for your particular situation.  You will also want your lens cleaning kit nearby to ensure smudges don’t ruin your holiday memories. Better yet—consider our new Promaster HGX filter that has the exclusive REPELLAMAX Element Resistant coating which repeals moisture, dust, and fingerprints. Try the fingerprint test to see how well it works!

During busy holiday visits, you will also find extra memory cards handy.  There’s nothing worse than running out of room on your memory card and trying to impulsively decide which images to delete to make room for new shots.

Lighting Considerations: When photographing a long table with people seated from one end to the other, proper lighting is critical to making sure everyone is evenly covered.  If your light source is far away from your subjects, the light will fall off gradually; however, if you are shooting close to your subjects (using a point and shoot camera, for example), the light from the flash will fall off quickly and can make those seated further away from you appear darker (because the light from the flash is diminishing and not giving proper illumination).  Here are a few things to try:


  • Check available light around the table.  Do you have windows that will offer light and how will this light change when it is time for everyone to sit down for dinner?
  • Ask a couple of guests to ‘model’ for you for a few minutes.  Seat one close to the front of the shot and the other at the far end.  Play with different angles and with light sources (lamps, overhead, etc) to see which best offer necessary fill light.
  • Try bouncing the flash off the ceiling to see if you can create a more even light stream across the table.


The Kids Table: This is where the real fun happens! If you have a separate kids table, make them the stars in a few photographs.  Try standing on a chair and shooting from the top down while they hold up their water glasses in a kid toast.  With kids, playing with angles is particularly important because you want to capture the event from their perspective so shoot at their eye level—as adults, we often tower above them, especially when they’re seated.