Family Beach Portraits

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“Hurry, there’s a sailboat!” I yelled. I’m not sure if the kids could hear me, because it was so windy. REALLY windy. Batten-down-the-hatches windy. You can see it in the surf above. This portrait session was taken a month or so ago, and it was cold too. One of those sessions where you walk out the front door and say “nice!”. But by the time you get to the location, you go “uh oh…”

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Since I’m primarily a location photographer, I have to be sensitive to my clients’ needs and the weather. I’ll happily reschedule for rain of course. But if it’s overcast at the beach, or there are high winds, I’ll reschedule too. And this day was certainly a borderline situation. The family was cold, the wind was blowing…but they wanted to soldier on! So I found some dunes that were sheltered from the wind, and set up for a family portrait.

In a high-wind situation like this, there’s no point in setting up an umbrella. Not unless I’m going to tie a string to it and fly it like a kite! For a day like today, I had to go with relatively “hard” light. But hard light is underrated…it’s really all about balancing the fill (in this case, provided by the ambient daylight) with the main light. And that’s what I did here:

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The sun is to camera left, behind the family. You can see sunlight on the camera-left side of dad’s face. Meanwhile my main light is an SB-28, possibly in a Lumiquest SoftBox III (I should get a commission every time I type their product’s name, but sadly I don’t even get freebies). And camera-right is a ‘kicker’ light, giving an edge light to the sides of their faces and hair. Since the conditions were somewhat dramatic anyway, I thought the kicker would be appropriate, and give a little dimension.

But enough yakking about technical stuff. It’s time to head down to the beach proper and get some fun shots. I don’t recall if I handheld an SB-28 for fill, or just used the on-camera flash for fill, but it doesn’t matter. It’s all about being ready to catch the fleeting moments before they morph into something else. Equipment doesn’t matter in those situations. Sensitivity and awareness does! And on occasion (my wife might dispute this) I can be sensitive and aware.

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