Recently I was hired by a client to take portraits of three generations: the client, her daughter and son-in-law, and her grandson. She wanted the images made in her backyard, and I love when people have me do that! I think it can be particularly meaningful to have family portraits made in a location that is important to the client. I always like to ‘scout’ the location first, if possible, so that I can get a sense of the lighting, backgrounds, best time of day etc. This backyard had a lot of shade in the afternoon, and shade is the photographer’s friend when shooting that time of day.
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The grandson is two years old, and very impish. We did manage to get him to sit still for a few ‘posed’ portraits with the rest of the family, but much of the time he was tearing from one spot to another. Fortunately, I discovered a hidden lighting ‘treasure’ at the house. While most of the back yard was in shade, the sun completely lit one wall of the house. It was so bright, and such a big light source, it just looked amazing. I didn’t need to use any strobes at all for this particular spot! And moreover, I did not have to worry so much about where he was in relation to the light source…he was free to run around and act himself.
The above image, and the one below, were taken using available light. It was just a matter of positioning them properly. As photographers, sometimes we get caught up in both the technical aspects of the process, and/or fall into certain habits. But if you’re always using your eyes, you can take opportunities like this and run with them. I love this light! There is no way I could have set up a 20′ x 20′ soft light source outdoors, which is what this wall had become. And it was a light beige color, which meant it was warming the color of the light as well. Bonus!
Later on, we moved around the other side of the house (below). This area was in complete shade, so I set up an 43″ shoot-thru umbrella and my Metz Mecablitz 60 camera-right, and I think I had a fill light at the camera position as well (I don’t recall). The little boy spotted an interesting bird, got grandma to look at it, and I managed to capture the moment. One of my favorite!
I’m always ready to have fun with my clients, especially when they act my age. Here you see the boy imitating me. I’m lying next to him with my feet in the air, meanwhile trying to snap pictures of him and keep from laughing so hard that I can’t hold the camera straight.
And finally below, we have one with mom and dad, and their son. This one was lit using both the Mecablitz and 43″ umbrella, and an SB-28 with a LumiQuest SoftBox III modifier to soften it up a little.
Great shoot, great family, and I got a workout from the two year old!