Something I’ve been trying to do for a while is to get some shots of my and my girlfriend’s family. So, after months of planning, I managed to assemble everyone in the right place at the right time for a 2 hour marathon shoot. With all the various family members, and some friends for good measure, I had 22 people turn up (not quite in the same league as the Hitchin Christian Centre Nativity events where I regularly shoot over 100 people – see the photos from 2015 here), but still a challenge especially since I wanted to spend time with each group and do something different for each.
Although I’ve got the facilities to shoot small family groups, individuals and couples, for larger numbers I hire a suitable venue. This gives me space to work, space for my models to move around and usually convenient parking. In this case the Silverbirch room at Christchurch, Hitchin was ideal, and a venue I’ve used several times before (see Paul Rooke’s 70th birthday shoot here, and Helen’s family photo-shoot here). The Silverbirch room has the space I need, plenty of mains sockets and a handy kitchen, it also benefits from being in the middle of Hitchin. With everything loaded into my car, I drove down to the venue and was set-up and ready to go within 30 minutes.
The set-up for the shoot was quite simple. My aim for this shoot was to do bright high key images on a white background, so I needed plenty of power to light a full sized background with enough room for 8 people. In the end I settled on 4 studio lights; 2 to light the subjects and 2 to light the background. With this much kit around I try to work as tidily as possible and use radio triggers so I’m able to move around freely without trailing wires. After a couple of test shots I was good to go and ready for my first family.
Although many millions of photos are taken each day most people don’t really know how to pose for a photo, so I always like to have some standard poses up my sleeve to get things started. Normally I pick an adult for the first few shots, so that everyone gets used to the lights and how things happen, however this time Sam (on the left) was straight in from started and was immediately posing like a pro!
One of my favourite places to start a photo shoot is by introducing a prop. Sometimes I use inflatable musical instruments (no one can frown if they’re holding an inflatable electric guitar), but for these shots I wanted to have a little more formality, so I fell back on my old faithful… the director’s chair. For me the two best things about using a chair as a prop are; it helps people know what to do with their hands, and secondly it’s a great way to even out heights between family members.
I always post process each image individually in PhotoShop to get the absolute best out from each shot. I’ll make a case by case decision on what processing works best for an individual image, and this means that I’ll often present my images in a range of different styles depending what I think works best for each. Black and White images are often seen as more artistic an so regularly feature in my portfolio, and I wholeheartedly agree with Ted Grant (described as Canada’s premier living photographer) who said;
When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls!
Here you’ll find some of my favourite shots from the shoot, but you can click on the Pro-Gallery link here to see the full set of images. You can also order prints and other photographic gifts from the Pro-Gallery.
If you’d like to speak to me about a photo-shoot for your family or friends, send me an enquiry via the contact form here.