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. 😉
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!