Family Portrait Attempt

Registered: Mar 05, 2011
Total Posts: 928
Country: United States

So I promised my family frozen yogurt after church today if they would indulge me in a few photos. Did not turn out as well as I had hoped but really my first time to attempt a staged shoot. C&C appreciated.

Registered: Apr 10, 2012
Total Posts: 234
Country: United States

Good looking family. everyone seems to be squinting. I like the last image the most.

Registered: Sep 12, 2012
Total Posts: 246
Country: United States

A few friendly suggestions/ideas:
- Get them closer to each other, get them to engage each other more (arms intertwined, around each other, etc.)
- Try some movement shots, like them actually laughing and swinging the chair in the last shot.
- Definitely watch out for the squinting
- Maybe try some angles so they aren't always squared up to the camera?
Just some ideas. Definitely not criticism.

Registered: Apr 07, 2009
Total Posts: 1014
Country: United States

It looks like there are hot-spots (blown highlights) on their faces in 1, 2, and 3, so the next time you might want to use spot metering to meter on the brightest part of the subject. Getting them out of direct sunlight would work even better for a number of reasons.

Registered: Apr 30, 2002
Total Posts: 6079
Country: United States

Mom having a bad day?

The lighting is very nice, but the posing lacks something... too static.


Registered: Nov 25, 2011
Total Posts: 2205
Country: United Kingdom

gheller wrote:
Mom having a bad day?

The lighting is very nice, but the posing lacks something... too static.


+1. Looks like mum is really not enjoying the prospect of being photographed. Family shots need to feel close, happy and fun. Unfortunately the poses and facial expressions do not give this feeling. The lighting is pretty good, but squinting is a big problem here. For these locations you might want to try again on a more overcast/less bright day. Otherwise take your subjects to a decent shady area and position them so the brightest light is hitting your subjects from behind.

Certainly try some different angles to add some variation to the shots. Even simply changing the camera height (I.e get low to the ground) can make a difference.

The last shot is the most appealing but again the subjects feel very forced and static. Plus they're eyes are almost hidden by their squints. Getting their eyes opened up with some ambient light adding colour to the iris will really help. This shot also looks underexposed to me.

I think this is a good start. You would think that photographing immediate family would be easier than other subjects but in some cases it can be hard. My family are the same and always look very rigid and uncomfortable for photos.

Keep up the good work.

Registered: Mar 05, 2011
Total Posts: 928
Country: United States

Thanks all some great comments that when I read them suddenly make me see the same thing! Exactly the advice I was looking for. Ironically it was fairly overcast and gray yesterday and I commented to them thru multiple shot that they kept squinting. But I see now I was also

Registered: Feb 22, 2005
Total Posts: 2116
Country: Canada

Good portraits require more than standing or sitting around smiling at you/camera. Engage them!

Keep at it.

Jim Rickards
Registered: Dec 02, 2003
Total Posts: 11085
Country: Canada

Zooming in, or better yet - cropping later (gives more flexibility with crops for different photo sizes) will make the people larger in the frame. Blurring the background a bit more could help isolate them too.

Registered: Jul 03, 2008
Total Posts: 2764
Country: United States

Since this was your family and not a paid shoot I will go easy.
Lots of issues with these. Many already mentioned so I won't go repeat them.You do need a lot more light control. His head is bright in #1. Too much flat facial shine in some. See upper cheeks. Next is position.

When doing a group the first thing Not to do a lineup as in these. In #1 you have 2 straight lines and even in the last on the bench you have straight lines.
For example in the last why have 3 on the bench. Why not have one almost laying on the bench with another above her head to bring the 'feel' of them wanting to be together as a family that likes each other. The 3rd could be opposite end of bench with one standing in the middle or holding onto the chain leaning into the frame, next to the standing one, keeping the together look. I can think of 5-6 positions using that bench for the group and none involve straight lines that you used.

That factor alone would take away the snapshot look. That metal bench. Same thing, why not use the top as a seat so you have 3-4 levels. Standing is level 1, but leaning into the photo to show they are connected, on top of bench for level 2 and on the lower seat for level 3 and the arm rail of the bench for level 4, not pushed against the backrest to provide depth ( depth will break that line up ) in addition to the levels.
Watch the brightness in background and foreground as that pulls they attention away from the clients. Not a killer but again take the image to the next quality level with little effort.

The eyes....your number one thing should be eye contact to connect with the viewer, you missed in all shown. Second is connecting the family to show affection etc. Getting there but weak.

Avoid that 'fig leaf' hand position at all cost. Use a pocket, place hand on person next to them ( also connects and shows emotion in photo by touching) or object next to them like chain of bench, railing.

For example in 3 the husband has his hand on her shoulder but she is distant. Looks like one of my girlfriends when I call her the wrong name! See that distance. She should be turned into him and much closer to remove that distance. Turning in means she wants to be there and connects. Also keep hands at a angle. The young girl has 'flat hands' . Makes them big. Turn her hands sideways and one in pocket or something. No flat hands facing camera or bodies either. Always turn them.
Hope this helps. You will be amazed at the differnece if you try a few of these suggestions.