Part I - Linear Compositions
Good family portrait ideas aren't always easy to think up and often you will find that,
left to their own devices, people just arrange themselves in a row in front of the camera. However, with a little
imagination lining everyone up in a straight line can produce great shots!
The photograph shown below is a lovely example of the application of a little imagination to
a shot that could have been spectacularly dull! The photographer has chosen a low angle to
shoot from and exposed for the foreground to create this captivatin silhouette.
But to get a shot like this you have to be very careful with the exposure as the background and
foreground will have very difficult values. Try setting the exposure on your camera to spot
metering when your subject is back lit in this way.
With your camera set to spot metering, it will give a reading for a very narrow angle and
is ideal when your subject's background is much brighter than the foreground as it is here.
Family Portrait by a4gpa
The photograph below is another example showing that family portrait ideas are best when kept simple and
builds on the idea of posing your subjects in a row. Again, we
cannot see their faces, however, it is obvious to everyone who knows this family just who is
who in the line up! It is an unusual shot, and a nice contemplative moment. It works well too with the row of markers in the water
which echo the line-up of girls in the foreground.
Five Sisters by Christine Vincent
Of course most of the time we want to see the faces of our subjects but rather than
just lining them up horizontally like ducks(!) you might like to try the arrangement shown to the left where
the photographer, Vera Kratochvil has placed her subjects in descending height order.
Note that there is a sense of unity to the image not only because of the vertical composition, but
also because of the way the man has wrapped his arms around the mother and child, enclosing
them within a circle. This circle is also echoed in the shapes of the three faces.
Once you get used to looking for the underlying geometric shapes in a scene you will start to find
shapes and forms in everything. With practice, it will become instinctive and you will then be able to
find family portrait ideas with ease. In Part II I will be looking at triangular compositions for
use in family portraits.
The cover photograph of
Natural-Light Family Portraits
by Jennifer George also uses a linear arrangement to good effect, producing a shot which looks very natural
although no doubt a lot of prior thinking went into it.
Whatever your level of photography, if you want to buy a good all-round guide to family portrait photography, this
book is highly recommended.
It covers design and composition in depth, working out of doors, and using natural light indoors and
details all the skills photographers need to successfully create natural-light family portraits, whether
posing small families or large groups.
Techniques for working outdoors, at the family's home, or in a natural-light studio setting are
included along with detailed information on post-production, album design, and marketing techniques
for attracting clients.
Learn how to create a picture-perfect rendering
by manipulating ever-changing and difficult-to-predict outdoor lighting and cultivating a cohesive
look through harmonious poses, expressions, and clothing.
This unique handbook is essential for family photographers looking to engage the family and bring
out their subjects' interpersonal relationships and individual personalities.
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