Family Portraits


Children's Portrait Photography


Lesson Info

Family Portraits

So family portrait so there are a lot of questions about working with family groupings and mom and dad and all that sort of thing one of the things that comes up a lot is I hear the question asked like its funding photograph kids but when it comes to the family shoot that's not as fun as anybody else had that experience I've said that every single person we get pan everything over so I prefer feuding families you prefer just family since opposed to the kids ok, ok why? Because I like the interaction between the parents I like tio like people seeing how the kids look at their parents and how their parents look at their kids and write and catching that of the relationship and the relation yeah yes for me why absolutely yeah, I mean, I think that's brilliant the and I can totally see why just like when I'm out there was just a kid I'm like oh my god, this is so easy you know, um the, uh I think I should explain here because I had to explain to my daughter when I say the phrase oh my I act...

ually spell it out g a w ty's just get the lack of trying to offend somebody and someone asking what's the seminar like, do you feel comfortable saying that I'm like, oh no, I'm spelling it this way anyway um to me when it comes to photographing families I think it's technically a little bit more complicated of course when you have to think about where is the body in relation to each other where is the light falling how's it hitting them who is blocking whom in terms of a shadow or expression and then on dh that's just configuration then you've got to get into mood and feeling and how do you get five people in a family all genuinely happy and really close and not annoyed with each other and let well you know it's and have you choosing the right background and nothing's coming out of their heads and all the things that you've got to think about there's a lot going on right there on the other side it's the emotional part of being a photographer and feeling like do you want to take this on you know so that's a lot of what I hear is like that's a lot to take on teo get a family portrait there's a lot of pressure behind it there seems to be a dynamic at play sometimes where it's not as fun because we were like sniping or something um but for me I think family fortunes are incredibly important because that's experience where you could actually get them all together you can see their faces clearly you can see that there's a joy and there's a spirit and there's a connection there um and I referred yesterday too like this aloneness factor you know, when you see a fan like this they don't look that alone I'm not saying they don't have that experience later but there's something amazing about that I feel um and speaking of family these are my three babies this is our five five three babies on the left is caleb my six year old on the middle is annalee semi fabulous on the right is my just turned nine year old sophie and as you know it's probably not such a secret that I two of my three children are adopted and I have a huge heart for adoption I just feel like I wish everybody I just you know, not everybody but I think there's just amazing amount of kids out there and there's a few things that make me think more about the importance of family then walking through an orphanage you know there's there's very little times that you khun I kind of find yourself with caleb we stayed in his orphanage in ethiopia with annalise that we were there for two months in ecuador and spent a good amount of time in the beginning walking the orphanage and seeing you know, the look and feel of it and anna lisa is five now, but she was three and a half when we adopted her so nearly two years ago um and this is one of the first photographs I took of her this is her with um mother superior of sorts at the at the orphanage she kind of help run the place in cuenca, ecuador and um she was looking at us like we were like her family, you know? And she was like who are you? What is this why, you know the idea family was wonderful and they're very caring and sweet and loving in terms of trying to care for these children as best they can but that being said they were learning a family is theory it's drawings it's pictures there's this his mother this is father this is brother this is sister this is and they have drawings on their wall that show family with arrows pointing to family members and so in spanish you know, and so to her she's the perfect example of what we're doing right now she had to learn family in theory first and then learn it in practice and then experience it um and there's been, you know, kind of a timeline with that. And so for her she doesn't know this woman very, very well but she's preferable to like who the heck are these people? Look in the very beginning um and I talked about how when you spend time in orphanage or care center like that, you get a sense of what you're the difference that your life would be like without family um and this is the way the set up was this was the crib that she stayed in for quite a lot of the day and evening um and this this was the front areas that were, you know, for the kids protections where's was penned off so you have kind of some outside play space when there was a supervisor's around and I think it's about thirteen hours a day or so that they spent in the cribs, you know, kind of just to get to keep them safe but like, you know, talk about that sensation of feeling alone there's a lot of separateness in that um even though I could say this one hundred times the and for anybody who's very familiar with a lot of the way orphanages around her stuff there's so much given by the caretaker's like so much and maybe it's not a lot of it's not very money oriented situations like cash to help support a lot of structure they'd love to have it and they make up for it with heart and emotion and volunteers so many amazing volunteers came in to the orphanages and help care for these children but excellent example is this little girl andrea, who was analistas friend and she we had this kind of great news because there's, another family and north carolina a few hours away from us who was going to adopt her and we were like that we just kind of found that out through an adoption thing and we were so excited and they actually got there referral first on dh so we thought well this will be great because we'll be able to visit and she'll know somebody from you know ecuador knots or staff but like randomly the when we got there and as unfortunate happens very often with e all the government agencies trying to talk to each other they froze the process so they froze a process why were there was supposed to be a temporary measure but it's been two years and andrew is still there and the family's been told that just kind of let it go and move on and they have had their whole kind of morning experience and it's and it's amazing because she was ready for family you know? And so when people ask me about that never talk about when they asked me about this like about do you photograph families like I have never I thought it was more important you know then I do now so yes, I think family photography is exceptionally important you know that that the idea that you belong and that you have somebody um and that people care for you and there's that person to go to in that person to go teo um I love it um chase is in the chat room and he just wanted to say hi from thirty seven thousand is he flying back and kudos yeah kudos you uh thank you I chase um so there's a million kind of orientations in terms of what you can do when you're setting up families you know whether or not you doing something with the entire family when and what his family right people like the mountain people talk to me and say I want to do a family photograph so there's mom there's dad there's that not always not necessarily you know family is what you make it you know and the idea of for me the overriding thing you'll see an ever single family fortune ideo probably without exception is I've got closeness I'm showing off the fact that this group is the one that is that is what I want to convey that's what I care to today I want to show that yes there's distinct personalities and everybody's different on dh that doesn't mean like dressing the same or having the same you know clothing on earth like that but it's the idea that all of these people fit together from the experience of being a family you know and I think that's so cool that we get to do that because that family portrait ten years later fifteen years later twenty years later we all know that people grow up and they get angry or accidents happen or people get sick or whatever there's a lot of reasons that dynamic well they're not going to nestle always have that closeness and still be able to capture it and show it and give it to them I think is one of those incredible rewarding aspects of what we d'oh and and I'll talk to you about it because I do ah lot of editorial photography and I do you know really awesome really cool commercial photography and I do things that you know how I've been asked point blake like some of that work is super cool why do you photograph families too you know and and to me and like think about the basis of the structure of how we live and what we cleaned tio what matters and at the end of the day you strip everything away and you're like hungering for belonging and family and home we all are so I think any person who's cool and awesome and slick and fantastic it's like ask them what they really really care about it the other day and it's like that person and that dynamic and that meaningfulness and when family is like whether it's your siblings or parents or your best friend you know it's like family is what it iss and that's I think what it really comes down to the end of the day so I think family photography school I'm just saying um okay so and I love this too don't be affected just straddle a family don't be afraid to strike a family that's a good quote though I mean that when you think about how to compose a family and where to put them what to do there's a lot of funk the things you can do it doesn't always have to be you know, in front of a fireplace or whatever else try toby is adventurous with the family is they'll allow you to be you do have some constructions um constructions constructions constraints straight sounds better restrictions there's some constraints and restrictions constructions um when you're photographing a family simply because you have usually more than one person you your family photograph you get four five six people whatever the case may be on dh it's hard to like on the fly take this lump of humans and put him over here so you have to think about the fact that that's going to be somewhat of a limitation but that doesn't mean you can't shake it up and have people sitting in weird places and hanging from weird places and you know have different varying planes one person in front a few people in back just kind of mixing that up and playing with it so thinking about family dynamics working with different members of a family house do you get everyone to buy in were talking yesterday about how dad's not an accessory that he should care and stuff that goes for everybody there's you're always gonna have certain people like I do not want to be here on dh that's not the story of the too cool for school thing that's not that that's the aspect of um I don't even know what we're doing here and then and so sometimes it's helpful to sit down and talk teo the children and say we're going to get a photograph of all of you guys together what do you most love about your mom or what do you must love it about your dad or what do you think is the funniest thing that this person does or whatever the case may be and get them sometimes you have to put it back in the forefront of their mind oh yeah yeah I love this this is good, you know, because it's not the first thing that most people think about their they're just kind of lining up for the shot that they're supposed to take the other thing about family is it's not always that right front and center photograph sometimes is them in their element it's them them having their experience and it's not necessary just candids its its atmosphere you know where these people living what are they doing? Um it's that long shot on the beach with the little people that you know can be really impactful photograph for them um and when I talked to yesterday about giving dad his treats and showing him the back of the camera on and letting them see some cool stuff we're doing, I did a shot literally friday thursday what what day is this? So monday, I did a shot on monday why did a shoot in the afternoon? And it was a really kind of perfect scenario for what we're talking about here where showed up to the shoot mom had planned it long time ago, it was all excited, everything ready? Um, the kids were just kind of curious, but, you know, cute really engaged and dad was just like, okay, I got so much time that that that and I was like, thinking, ok, I need to bring him in, and so I did that when I talked about yesterday or, you know, we have conversation and kind of share a little bit more who he is, and I talked him a little bit about what I'm doing, and I honestly think that a lot of the time, certain people that are used to kind of being standoffish, um are also used to being left alone, so when you kind of persevering a little bit and say, no, I'm really interested, I know this may be a little, but I really want teo to kind of have this talk you can you can find a little bit more opening up that way and in this case I wanted to show I was talking him a little bit about how I promised we weren't gonna get just pouring shots we're gonna do really fun shots this is the dad not the kid that sounds like a typical kid but it was the dad and I did the you know kind of cute thing where I had him throw uh this child up in the air but I want to shoot it in a really kind of different way to show him that this wasn't gonna be just an everyday kind of shot we're not getting this which I love you know I love and it's fun and it spoke more to I think it made him look like a rock star like look at him that the lights coming through him he's like an angel um and I love the idea of it being playful and fun and interesting and you know we got a cool silhouette going in the early evening sun and um on the golf course which is his thing and and when I showed him the back of that shop because that's pretty much right at a camera I think there's barely a tweak to that when I showed him that right out of camera he just like and it's like everything went physical whatever what if I were doing some like this you know, and that's, you know, and then I had him in and and sometimes if I have a very resistant a member of the family and it's, not always dad, you know, sometimes I have a very resistant member of the family, I kind of start with something, I'll look for something like that because I want to get an idea of what we're getting out of this, um, any questions on that? I've left a question more of a comment, and I just want to say, like, I appreciate you sharing your heart about everything that you shared and it even just that little five minute piece that you just shared changed my perspective on family photography because it is less about, like, when I'm going into it, I'm still thinking, hey, I got to make this great picture and not that that's not important, but you change it to be about the people on about the dynamic between them and so thank you, thank you, sure. Um, kristen would like to know if you can give some tips on shooting families with extremely varying skin tones with extreme barents is going to like my family all the way extreme variants in skin tones god. Okay, um, yeah, that's a that's a great question. And if you sit notice yesterday when we did the family shoot with, um, see ala and her mother, we had a variance and skin tones and it's funny because I've seen families that are all flat out biological with very different skin tones. S o the big thing to think about is obviously if you're working with a darker shade of skin that you want to have more light and you wantto kind of block a little bit on the brighter skin on the on the paler skin tones and so I am doing a studio shoe with my kids um, I have a pull up, I have another studio shot of my kids that I'll try to show in a little bit where what I did is I put them on the white seems paper, I bunched them all together and I had a reflector on caleb and I had a a flag over a light on sophie, so sophie, which means basically I was bringing down the intensity of the light on her and that way, what I did was even it out for all of them, and annalise was in the middle I joke, we joke at home that they're like my favorite dessert cause he's chocolate she sit him in and he she is peach so that my my sweet little desert but yeah so I will account for the light differences that way most of the time if I have out and about like in this shot I mean, obviously this is a technically perfect cause he's blocking the light with his hand and it's got it's got some skin tone but what it makes you know makes up for it and just like joy, you know, just like our um but most the time when I'm out in even lighting and I've got good lighting I could put three together and then expose for the middle and I'm fine I'm mostly fine and I do this every day so I can tell you it's true I mean, I do a lot um the other thing to think about when you're using indoor light if your indoor with no additional lighting um so indoor you're maybe a four hundred six hundred and you're gonna and if you have overhead lighting and that's what you're dealing with you're gonna have a little bit of the raccoon eyes. Um you want to just think about a hint of fill in the direction of the darker skin tones um and a hint of phil could be like, um I'm wearing a white t shirt I'm standing next to him and shooting this way, you know I mean a hint of phil but for the most part honestly exposed for the middle skin tone and your fine that's great um one more question yeah with regard to families and that go into the family shoot yes um so similar teo different skin tones patrick wants to know what are some creative ideas for dealing with varying heights in families varying heights and families um the well way you know, we had that situation in the family shoot which I'm about to show because they kind of got together in a way that mom and dad were here and the kids were standing here and dad was pretty tall um and so it was a dramatic shift um oftentimes I'd bring them all to the same level by having them all sit down scrunch together you can see that here um like in this situation they're just sitting on a bench and all kind of leaning into each other um same thing we're sitting down um sitting dancing uh yeah, this is great dad standing up but we're putting that imam was much shorter so mom is sitting on something in front we just found a tree that happened to be just awesome from a framing perspective uh and then we just have them tilted up here's the other thing when you have family groupings and you're worried about height difference is you don't want to go to a nice even line because that's visually boring you want tohave variants there, in terms of how you're breaking that up and think about your planes and stuff dads as far back as I want him to go. He's gonna get soft if he goes much farther back, so you still want them all on the same plane from a focus, you know, managing your field of focus perspective, and you want them up and down, similar to when you're photographing bunch brides, maids with the bride. You don't want them to have their flowers all in a row, that's, just so boring, you know you want to shake it up and that's. Half the movement has some flow in the seventh curves.

Class Description

Celebrated children's photographer Tamara Lackey leads a special worldwide workshop on the magic, art, and business of child portrait photography. Take a live, front-row seat with Tamara as she works with a wide range of kids. You'll watch as she works to put them at ease, gets them laughing, and coaxes out their natural personality for fun poses and great family portraits. More importantly, you'll be part of an ongoing weekend conversation with fellow photographers around the world about how to grow your own successful portrait photography business, while balancing personal and professional lives.