Shooting portraits are not that easy for me, they are always the jobs that bring out the self doubt monster. It is about the photographers’ creative vision of a client’s brief and when you add that to the dynamic definition of success in the eyes of your client, it makes for a nerve wrenching episode. It is easy to deal with one adult client but when there is an entire family with kids …..that’s a different ball game altogether.
The principles of group photos or family portraits don’t differ all that much. As I’ve mentioned in this post earlier, comfort is a key factor and getting to know your client is key. For me, being a beginner, my “clients” happen to be good friends and right away I can zero in on what they are looking for. Kids on the other hand take time, irrespective of whether you know them or not. As the photographer it is my job to make the kids comfortable with having me around with my camera and equipment. More often than not, smaller the child the better it is to let them be, give them their space and shoot them doing what they are most comfortable doing. With toddlers and older kids, I find letting them play with my camera and allowing them to take a few snaps with careful supervision never fails to make them warm up to me. Sometimes, I let them be my “spot boy”, holding up reflectors or helping me screw on a filter or even better – instructing their parents about the next shot!!!
I got to learn and experiment all of the above with a friends’ family, who enlisted me for her family portraits. Some casual shots at the beach and some more formal shots at home with extended family. I know this is just the beginning of many sessions that I will do with her and I know that she is happy with my work. I can hardly call it work, when you get to hang out with close friends drinking beer on a beach, whilst you shoot casual shots of them!
In the casual shots there are some photographs where there is a good deal of lens flare from putting the sun in front of me, but it adds to the character of the photograph in my mind when it plays with say, the lustrous locks of the child. For a good part there was no posing of people, it really does irk children a lot, to pose! I did not use any reflectors or diffusers for this section, despite shooting mid day. For the most part we were under some shade and did not require it. I did discuss with my client on what to wear and told her to keep away from busy prints and stick to pastels and white. It lends to a sense of uniformity and calm in the pictures whilst very subtly enhancing the mood of a beach background.
For the more formal portraits, which are all posed and were taken at home – I was fighting a dying sunset and lack of light within the house. In these photos, I had to use just the reflector for lack of a fill flash. I am yet to get myself a fill flash, I know , I know…I will, slowly but surely. When I have money enough to invest in studio equipment I will but all that. For now, its about making use of what I have. Think of it as another “boxing myself in” exercise.
Before I round out this post, I have to say my thank you’s. A big thank you to my friends Anju & Rajiv, who let me photograph their family and think I did a fantastic job. Second and most importantly to my spot boy and unpaid assistant N – what can I say, I wish everyone had one of you in their lives! Third but definitely not the least, to my little assistants – my clients children – who are such a treat to watch when left to themselves!
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