Big Family, Big Sunset

I love shooting big family groups! There’s usually a party atmosphere, and everyone has lots of fun. As you can guess from the lead image, this family was indeed ready to have a good time. Eleven people, including grandma, two sets of parents and two sets of kids were having a family reunion here in Ventura County, California.

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We did the group portraits first, an example of which is below. I had my assistant holding the Metz Mecablitz 60 in a 43″ shoot-through umbrella, camera left, mounted on top of a hardware store paint-roller pole (using a special adapter). This makes for easy portability, as long as you have someone to hold it upright. For fill light I had a Nikon SB-28 with a Lumiquest SoftBox III, just right of camera position, providing a subtle fill to the shadows. The fill is necessary because the subjects are backlit, and would be dark silhouettes without a flash. And a single light would create dark shadows, so the second light is necessary.

You always have to be ready for unexpected opportunities, even when in the middle of doing more ‘posed’ portraits. I spotted the happy coincidence of one of the young girls coming up over the dunes, just as a sailboat came by. I grabbed my backup camera, which is always ready to grab a shot, and got this cute one (below).

And of course we couldn’t afford to miss the sunset! By this time the “boring” portraits were over (from the kids’ point of view) and they were anxious to go romp on the beach. Some of them were from Texas and they don’t have ‘real’ beaches there, so I don’t blame them. 😉

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But wait, what about that lead shot? It is of course a composite. As we started down toward the water after shooting in the dunes, the young boy took a flying leap off one of the dunes. He went back for another jump, and I grabbed the shot. Soon almost the entire family took turns, leaping off the dune. I assembled the collage into a panoramic image, and it has become a favorite of theirs. Which reminds me why I need to have my camera ready at all times!

18 thoughts on “Big Family, Big Sunset

  1. LOVE the composite shot… maybe you can trademark it or something! This is one of my kids’ favorite things to do so I have lots of these… never thought to cut and paste the best ones together! I feel a scrapbook page coming on!

  2. Thanks Marcia! I’m not sure if I can convince every family to jump off something high repeatedly while I gather the images. But I can try!

  3. I agree with Marcia above. You should consider trademarking that composite photo! It would make for great advertising copy.

    I also like the family shot just below it. Nice usage of the natural light from the sunset along with your flash.

  4. Wow! Perfect photo shots! This is why I’m eager to take photography classes soon. I just don’t have time for it. Anyway, thanks to my uncle ’cause he sometimes spend his time with me just to give me some tips on how to take photos on their perfect angle. I always love seeing those photos, especially if it is a family picture. I can see the real joy from their hearts. I’m a type of person who loves to keep memories alive. Taking photographs is one of my favorite pastime. Hopefully, next month, I could make a break just to pursue my photography lesson.

  5. Very nice collection. I really like sunset and the photos you took are amazing and the family are so warm. Keep your good work and posting more photos.

  6. Nice photos. I also have passion for photography. My family loves to take photos especially when we are on travel. Your photos looks amazing and beautiful. Keep posting.. Thanks for sharing..

  7. dear Matt,
    i know that you’re a great photographer from your collection..
    if you don’t mind, what is the first step to become a great photographer like you?
    should i buy an expensive DSLR first?

    Thanks for responding

  8. I’ve been so passionate with photography line since when I was a kid, I used to have as camera with wherever I go. This post is wonderful example of real essence of photography. The real capture of what is beautiful is seen with the enchanting pictures. Thank you for sharing. Nice one!

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