Family Portraits in Malibu

This is a family portrait session from a couple of months ago. The parents have asked me not to include images of them in my blog post (for privacy reasons), so with their permission, I’m focusing on the kids!

We had some great weather for this shoot, and the rocks at El Matador beach are always dramatic. It was pretty windy though, so for the more ‘formal’ portraits (an example of which is the second from the last image) I picked a rock that was out of the wind to seat everyone on. I still had to shoot in between breezes, so that hair didn’t go crazy. For lighting I used my Metz Mecablitz 60 to camera left, with a 43″ reflective umbrella. This was held on a paint-roller pole by my assistant, Desirée. I also had an SB-28 with a LumiQuest SoftBox III modifer at camera position, as fill. I metered the lights, then ‘chimped’ with my dSLR. But the final images were shot using my Mamiya 645AF medium-format film camera, with an 80mm f/2.8 lens, and new Kodak Portra 400 film.

The last image, with the boys wrestling over the stick, was also shot with this camera and film combination. No strobes here though, just ambient light. When shooting candids at the beach, I will often set my camera up for two different scenarios: backlit, where the faces are in shadow, and front lit/everything else. I will use an incident meter to determine the proper exposure for the faces when my subjects are facing away from the sun, and I will set my camera to manual with the appropriate settings. I will then flip back and forth between manual and aperture-priority, depending on whether I’m shooting into the sun, or shooting with my back to the sun. If I didn’t set my camera to manual for a backlit situation such as the one above, my meter would be fooled into reducing the exposure, and my subjects would turn into silhouettes. While I could spot-meter in these situations, it’s just too hit and miss. Manual exposure is really a great way to maintain consistency with your shots, and I use it all the time!

Speaking of silhouettes, the first two images were intentionally made that way, to emphasize the shadows and to get some of the sunset. These images were shot with 35mm Kodak Ektar 100, using my Nikon N90s. They were probably shot by Desirée, as she was using my N90s for awhile, while I shot candids with the Mamiya. The black and white ones were also shot on Ektar, and then digitally converted to black and white.

One thought on “Family Portraits in Malibu

  1. I love how the photographer made it. Full of love and really nice to see, it keeps me so light and seeing this kind of pictures is really my stress remedy. Keep it up!

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