Large family photoshoot to start the year
Sometimes my clients throw me challenges that keep me on my toes and this is where a professional approach of pre-planning and some study are required to make sure I do my best and produce the results that please them.
Fiona certainly got me thinking when she contacted me to book a family photoshoot to celebrate her mum's 70th birthday. She told me her two brothers and their families would be coming; one of the families traveling all the way from Holland especially for the occasion. There's quite a few of us she said and reeled off a list of sixteen names.
With sixteen family members coming my first thoughts were where on earth can I fit everybody in comfortably. Houses weren't big enough for people plus studio equipment and the weather just too cold for an outdoor shoot. The solution was the local Community Centre. I scouted the building and first look didn't look great. Huge hall, yes, but lots of distractions on the walls so it wouldn't be so good for getting a clean background. However, just as I was leaving, the caretaker told me I could use the stage. I had a look and to my relief there were large black curtains all round the stage which would be perfect to use.
Now that the location was decided, on to planning the shoot. Just turning up and thinking on my feet really wasn't an option with this size of group photo. So next stage of the planning was the lighting and how to keep it simple and safe on the stage. There were some small children going to be there and I didn't want them tripping over the light stands or cables so simple and safe was the recipe.
I wanted to minimise the amount of time with technical settings and positions during the shoot and so I would set up my studio lights for a consistent light pattern that would flatter the people and keep all the faces lit evenly.
So now lights and technical settings decided I needed to think about posing them all.
I didn't want them to look all regimented like a football team photo so some careful planning (and some research) was required. There's plenty of information on the internet but I still needed a plan. I still needed to ensure that no one would have their eyes shut in the final shot, that they would all be looking their best and everyone paying attention. That meant mum's, dad's, Granny, kids.....everyone. No use 15 people looking great and one person looking the other way or not paying attention, that would just go down as a nearly shot.
So eventually I came up with a plan for the session, which was to last an hour, keep everyone looking their best, keeping the group shot and smaller family group shots looking good and keeping them all relaxed, interested and safe.
I'm really pleased with how the session went and also the images. It proved preparation is invaluable.
Try organising a family photo for yourselves as a wee test to see how challenging it is, even with three or four people!
Here are some of the images from the shoot and a wee view of the stage.
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