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Family Photography: Modern Storytelling

Lesson 9 of 35

Culling Family Session Part 2

Kirsten Lewis

Family Photography: Modern Storytelling

Kirsten Lewis

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Lesson Info

9. Culling Family Session Part 2

Lesson Info

Culling Family Session Part 2

Wide angle was not as much. I didn't pull it out until after they started playing there. Go three is a little bit quicker just waiting for moments now. That's a cool moment, but she's got her eyes closed, so I just don't even keep it there's no connection here. It would be lovely if there was, but there isn't, so I'm not gonna keep it. This is where they found the dead crab. I'm looking for interaction or like funny faces life is that one one of them funny? This one's pretty funny too. She's got plugging your nose and then she's doing it? Yeah, and sometimes when pictures just do not work out and I'm fine with that there's a lot of action happening, but I didn't get it. I like this moment with dad and son. I like this when the bass because he has is stick over his shoulder, so I knew I want to make some sort of picture with him with this net with all the jellyfish that he got, so it tried from above and I didn't like it. Then I got down low and I realized that if I could frame him that...

's pretty funny face, um but if I could get real low and frame him, that would make for much more interesting picture older sisters some way connecting, okay, so this was a situation where remember, I haven't made a picture with all of them in it yet, and I knew that in I like that there was all this different activity, it was I who that's cool, I like sometimes wide angles just like everyone doing something different, a zon is their separation, and then naturally, they all just end up in the frame. I did not ask them to do that, they just did it on their own, and so then I backed up to make sure that I had enough room. I'm waiting for them toe all have some sort of separation, this one's interesting, but then the older brother laughed, so I only had that one. I keep shooting because I'm thinking maybe they'll all come back again like maybe they're all migrate back into the scene and maybe they won't, but it doesn't hurt me toe like at least try. Um, so this is when I went in the water trying to make some sort of different picture and actually didn't really end up working in a land of keeping one because there's so much was hard for me to get down low enough to put them in a clean space and there's a lot of clutter behind between the clutter of the houses and of the rocks in the water honestly likes sometimes just things that work out but it never hurts to try like you should always be trying but I have no problem and so this is me trying to clean up the space a little by just doing the feet but what I realized is it's just it really is just too much they can't really see the feet there's not clear enough reflection but it's good effort but it's kind of crap yeah for a few questions from the internet we have time yeah great so uh, dress would like to know have you were cropped others out of the picture when you have captured one or two people having the moment? Yes, I have and we will actually do that for one of the pictures here when we edit or only process in the next segment cool and john blowsy and a handful of others would like to know how you feel about the rule of thirds. That was a very funny answer e I don't know how to answer that I'm aware of the rule of thirds um sometimes I think I tend it to shoot that way naturally, but at the end of the day like I'm not that's too much technique for me to be thinking about like, I'm more worried about making clean pictures that make me feel something that worried about if it's if something's in the third of the of the frame makes sense perfect, perfect answer. Thank you so here's here's a situation where I'm really trying hard like I'm thinking, okay, maybe I can layer here where I have two actions happening in him to do something interesting and he just didn't and he just left, so I just let it go. One thing you'll notice that the parents are not the most affectionate with their kids, at least not in this session and that's okay, you're not gonna always have super affectionate families, but in that case I'm looking and working harder if there's, ever since sort of affection hand on the head is always like any time they touched the face of the hand of the head um a storm infection like that, I'm going to gravitate towards that, so I don't want to include it. So this isn't a situation where I really like the framing of this where she's skipping rocks and we've got this going on, but this is not compositionally sound, but I will crop. This is very rare that I cropped out of camera, but there are times when I do and I'm okay with that this is also actually more interesting moment here, but this moment is nothing like there's nothing going on here, so, um we don't keep that one I like this also this layering of him walking away and then while coming although that's my producer kathy right there this is amusing the second lens for the um sack races and I love that she was helping him you'll see she helps him hop so I also got close I don't think there was anything there that I wanted to keep okay, so this is where I'm gonna try accentuate the uniqueness of the kid's beginning close I love that he's this little scratch on this case so I'll keep a couple of these I love that he naturally like like did that with his lips he probably does it all the time um, so I'll definitely keep that but I loved his big teeth coming in and I don't want to make the same patient made before, but I loved the he loves smiling with his big teeth he also was carrying this rock around so so shooting her and then I realized how belonged her eyebrows and eyelashes are so I went really high above to make that picture and then when I was working with him I was like, do you know what I love most about your face like took him in when he was like, I think I just love your birthmark like it's really special, so I knew that I wanted to accentuate that, so I pulled him in close okay, so here we are really close for water balloon I want people to feel like they're they're well they're pulling up the balloons you're greg's okay? That is a water balloon like actually like your skin poor finn he was having trouble with the water hole confidence the water below okay, so this is, um one of my favorite shots the day was here they're like this one is fun but it's so compositionally bad I'll probably keep it for them but just keep in mind like this is really poor on my yes oh, I was gonna say, um you had mentioned before when there's a lot of action like this um focus can be tricky and so do you have any trip tips or tricks that you used to? I keep my focal point always in the middle and do you all use back button focus? Um, you know, I could talk to you about that later so you can set your camera so that your focus is separate from your shutter and that makes a huge difference so you can just focus on what you need before you release the shutter. The problem is when you have the focus focal point in the shutter on the same, but in you'll get the focus and then you're gonna have to refocus and hit the button again and it's just an extra stuff that it can actually like uh, what's the word I'm looking for decrease your success rate in getting pictures and focused when there's a lot of actions, so especially for you, I think putting you switching you to back, but focus will make a huge difference. Christian, do you wantto, uh, answer any more questions a little bit about focusing as far as how many focus points use and get a little technical? Or is that more different segment? I don't even know how many things most that they have, I guess I don't know, but because I'm back when I'm focused most of time, my focal point is in the middle, and I am focusing and re composing, I just and focus and then that holds the focal point, and then I can move the camera that being said, there are times when I move, moving my focal point that's more quiet times when I want to make sure that something isn't focus and it's really far, and I feel like if I focus and recompose it's really at the edge of the lens, it might be out of focus a little might be a hair soft, but for the most part, the fulton amount of focal points matter doesn't matter to me, I guess, because I'm doing so much back button focus and re composing that help, yeah and you didn't see there's lots of mrs here because the kids are moving around so fast he's not gonna get everything but don't feel bad about my shoot like I screwed up a lot or just missed a lot and that's okay what's important is the stuff that I did get and I think sometimes photographers beat themselves up like I hate this idea that um you know, new newer photographers that really admire somebody's work all they're seeing is a really good stuff they're not seeing all the throwaways I hope by like people seeing this like you see that like I'm not hurt like I'm sharing the same way you are I'm just getting luckier because of the decisions and making maybe a higher percentage of the time right? Or um I'm I'm just working a a little bit longer I'm sticking with something a little bit longer and being a little bit more patient so I'm getting it but it's there's not a huge difference between me and another photographer who might be a little bit newer it's just me we all make bad pictures and that's okay, you're supposed to make bad pictures you have tio nobody is making great pictures all time I can think of one photographer that does if they say they're do, they're lying like we all make crappy pictures it's that doesn't matter what matters the good ones that you make like I said, the harder you work, the more bad pictures you're going to make in the more bad pictures you make means the more good pictures you're going to make also I like this thiss frame here a lot like this separation all the different things that are happening here that's when he tossed the balloon at me wait a question from the chat room asking about that balloon that's a little nerve racking when you're sitting there with a nikon and how do you feel about that? I feel fine about it remember that most of us most of you probably have professional um cameras most of them are water sealed, okay, so if I get hit with a balloon, I'm actually not worried about my camera I'm a little bit nervous about moisture to getting into the lens and fogging it up I also do not shoot with a filter people kill me for that, but um we'll be shot, but yeah, I just don't shoot with filter um but so I worry about little bit of moisture getting in and it might take a while for it to come out key little piece of advice if you get moisture in stick your camera especially if you work in an area like florida, georgia, louisiana where you are going from air conditioning too hot, humid air on a regular basis your risk of getting moisture and fogging up your lens is pretty high it happened to me a lot in the outer banks always keep a bag of rice white rice in your car and if that happens stick the camera submerged camera completely and rice and it only takes about fifteen, twenty minutes it'll suck it all up rather than having to wait a couple of hours for teo um to dissipate on its own so no, I don't worry about that. Um I'm fine and more than likely, if it hit me, it would be okay and that's why? I felt comfortable like getting right in there and I got a little bit wet and it was fine. I also get in the pool by thirty five and the ocean with my thirty five I'm just careful, rapid twice in my hand, no bag, no nothing, no, I'm just really brave or stupid however you want to describe me and then when they were all wet and took just took a fun portrait of them and hears me working really hard because I'm looking at my composition like that's bad what's bad this is bad, I'm cutting off her hair right here it's bad them cutting off right by the fingertips on dh this is a little bit crowded, so you watch I fix it as best I can there see how I fixed it it's much better now there's some room around the hand here everyone's looking at me there's room with his head cut the head a little bit but I'd rather have the fingers in the frame in the corner then have his full head I'd rather sacrifice this time it for this the fingers so if we look this everything about put a mechanic so I've tagged all of them you can go down here in this corner and I could just hit this and it gets rid of all the non selects and so out of twelve hundred pictures um I've selected one hundred one here in thirty nine here so that's one forty I've picked out of a thousand so that's a lot of really bad pictures what do you do with the rejects and your workflow? So you've picked the ones you want to work with, they stay in my wrong you don't delete him. No, we'll talk about why that is on saturday, but I always keep them and there's a reason why I always keep them um I'd rather save that for why why keep them for saturday but um I don't get rid of them hard drives mean they're not that expensive and I'd rather have everything I shot do you have a working drive in an archive drive or how do you I always have a mirror drive so I have the main drive in my mirror drive and then when they're done and I always I try and keep them separate so if I go away always keep one at the house and I take one with me in the event that the house were to burn down or what have you when when they're done greg hates it but I keep one set in the car and I keep want in the trunk so the heats on issue or the cold neither I keep one in the trunk set and then one in the house in the event that the house were to burn down um I know that some people actually just get security uh safety security deposit boxes is that what they're called security deposit boxes or sorry I didn't know anyone oh, I think there are photographers that do that like put them like in the bank or wherever you get those here's the other thing that whyyou smugmug and it's high resolution files so that's my also my offsite backup so it's not any of my rejects but it is once they're finished there on there forever um for is for indefinitely did you have a question okay um so once I have these I'm gonna coffee them and you're going to see uh this is how I have it set up so they're going to go in the cold and they'll just copy them over there so I'm not even pulling the good ones from the raw the raw is just everything and then I'm gonna take a second copy of the good ones and they're going to go in there from there once these air all copied that is when I move them or not move them I'll go from the cold folder and I'll take the cold folder in and then I will look at those and then decide what are my keepers that are going to be my artists and edit so then there's two selections there's going to be the the extended gallery which will look at in the artisan at it and they're processed differently yes is your artists and edit what you would also put on your balog? Yes so that's one that's one selection yes, the artist and it is my favorites it's kind of like my portfolio poles like anything that I want for the portfolio eventually so it's the artisan and it is my favorites that I proud enough to put on my blawg on my website on facebook but their other photos that might not be perfect or I might not love them but I know that the family will like them and so that's why there's that extended gallery that they also have the option of selecting but the extending gallery is going to be processed by greg and in light room, but I'm going to show you, and then I do my toning in my processing in photo shop because I use layering too well, I'll show you, but I process them a little bit more detailed. So like I said, what I'll do is I'll go in to the call now and then from there, I will make my selects for my, um, artisan at it, and those will get put in my faves category so they'll go in there, I won't go through that with you all, but I think it'll be repetitive. I think it was enough to just go through these and, like, talk about why one's worked and what didn't? When we come back and we start processing the photos, you'll see the ones that I picked cause I'm going to show you, we're just going to work on the artists and get it. We'll work on that some of the artisan at it and light room, so I can show you how he's light room and then we'll also work on them in photo shop, and then you can see the final ones. You guys have any more questions or anybody out there? How many questions we do have a question up here, this's from f b user, I'm noticing in the file data that you're sitting at about if for two four point five a lot is that deliberate or just by chance do you have a favorite stopped work at later in the day that I'm shooting at a four point five that's because there's so much action happening that I might up the aperture little so I have a better chance of success when there's a lot of movement of grabbing that grabbing that shot and focus to wait you have a very small slim focal point I mean it is it's when they're running around like that it's hard um you'll see with my day and life I do shoot a lot at two eight when it's quiet in the house but uh when there's a lot of movement going on yeah it's usually a four five and it's a question if I have a favorite I've stopped no we talked about that before no there's a bit every f stop has a reason right? And so I just different situations I have preferences for my f stops like when we talked about when I'm shooting the formal session I'm going to shoot at two hundred and then I'm going to shoot it like a five, six or eight only because I want to make sure that everybody is in focus um and then there portraiture is nice if it's like one on one portraiture one subject in the ad to it is lovely I very rarely shoot under two eight very rarely there's occasions if I have a really low light but I'm someone who especially with faces I want both eyes and focus um and because I don't shoot a lot of portrait ce with eighty five I usually use the eighty two hundred for the thirty five um I need that to eight or higher so I think that's it for this section fantastic things like think that way well we're definitely getting some fantastic comments from the folks in the chat rooms they're sticking with him with the information on dh that skype call with something that you know people were definitely knowing and maybe you could talk a little bit about this is that we're trying to reach out to all photographers in this course I mean we are covering it with the core of what you two were having these discussions about things like bigger picture photojournalism because it's something that you think about every day while you're working is that correct and talk to that a little bit correct yeah well photojournalism is for me the basis of my chute's it's I'm telling a story through pictures and that's basically what photojournalism is um and that is also my approach to weddings I'm telling the wedding story through pictures so yeah that for me I don't look at a lot of other portrait photographers or wedding photographers uh the work that I get inspiration from is definitely other photo journalists who are working in the world and I like to see their point of view on at the same time I don't want them to really influence how I approached my type of shoot so bye by looking toe other photographers that shoot other things there's a amazing portrait photographer luis carbon from mexico and I love his stuff he's a studio photographer and I congest ahs much admire his work that he's doing as I can be me by tally or james knock way or david alan harvey who are some of my favorite photojournalists it's just um from my influence what influences me is outside of the family portrait world because I don't I guess I don't feel like I need to um have anything uh influenced my work that would make me question it and I think that happens a lot of time with newer photographers they're so obsessed with looking at blog's and websites of everybody else then they start comparing themselves to everybody else then they feel really bad about themselves and they think they want to quit photography then they just spent a lot of money and then they're just making more pictures that looked like everybody else's and that's not good it's not healthy it's good to like admire other people's work within the realm of shooting that you do but I think it's also important to not let that make you feel bad about the work that you're doing and I think it might sometimes hinder progress. If you're just focused on looking at stuff that everybody else is making, that is in the same category of photography, is you.

Class Description

Learn how to capture genuine, emotional images of families. In Family Photography: Modern Storytelling, Kirsten Lewis will teach you how to take meaningful documentary-style family photographs.

Kirsten Lewis takes a unique approach to family photography, leaving posing techniques and studio light at the door to capture real moments, as they are lived. In this class Kirsten will share her techniques for creating the relationships and environments that help her subjects feel at ease and open-up in an authentic way while she shoots. You’ll revisit the art of storytelling through still images and how to bring storytelling into your work with families. Kirsten will teach you the steps to developing client relationships that allow you to honestly document a family, from birth onward, while nurturing your business. You’ll learn new ways to approach composition and editing so your final product is both beautiful and true to reality.

If you want to deepen your relationships with the subjects you shoot and deliver photographs that are joyful and authentic, join Kirsten for this in-depth class on documentary-style family photography.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Family Portraits Quick Tips

Sponsor Discount Codes

Gear Guide

Family Session - HD

Newborn Session - HD

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



I cannot recommend Kirsten's course highly enough. I've tuned in to a couple of CreativeLive courses on photographing families and children, and they were both very "studio"-centric. A lot of posing, a lot of gear, etc. I don't have a studio and a lot of gear, I don't desire to, I'm uninspired by the outcomes, and I tuned out pretty quickly. I love capturing people, especially kids and families, in their moments. I love a great candid. I love "documentary photography" (as I learned to call it from this course). And loving and creating photos that tell a story or capture a genuine moment is exactly what this course taught us to do, and did a fantastic job of doing. A few things I loved about Kirsten from the get go: she is not pretentious, but intelligent and genuine; she as a person and her photography are inspiring; she knows how to teach - technical without being 'technical', knows how to explain her process, draws on her mistakes so we can all learn from them (and our own - and this is a HUGE element of teaching most people lack!), all the while packing in an enormous amount of information that could improve anyone's photography. is very accessible in her explanations and her language; she is honest: a good teacher will be critical because again, if she's not (and if we're not open to it) how will we ever learn? Although I felt sometimes her language was a bit harsh or her assessments "right or wrong" where more nuanced language could be merited - my one critique. really seemed to be teaching first and foremost to have people learn and be excellent photographers, and to enjoy the gifts photography can offer (personally and productively), which made it so much more appealing to be "in the room". Best of all, I had an awakening that I am allowed to be myself in my photography. As much as I love candids, I get caught up in the expectation to take posed pics, for those I'm taking the photos for more than for myself. No more. It makes me impatient and disappointed with the outcomes. I'm going to cultivate what I love. I also finished each day inspired to take and process photos - visiting my nieces, bringing my camera everywhere. During the class I kept going into lightroom to look at my pics while she was teaching, to compare my past photos to what she was teaching. It was such a wonderful learning experience. Thank you Kirsten for being true to yourself, going out on a limb in your approach, and sharing all of this with us!

Kathleen Petersen

I started out in photojournalism, but it was a long time ago. Back in the 70s, I would play with the little ones, in their backyards, or at their breakfast tables, to get lots of beautiful, real images. Then, over the years, with the need to earn income, and then later, the need to compete, I got side tracked. I still did photojournalistic images of my kids, and eventually, their kids, but clients were wanting specific things. I called it the line-them-up-and-shoot-them style of family photography. The creative soul within was always longing for the more natural, more real images, and I have always been able to sneak them in to any session. But my business was mostly about everything else. I shot some weddings early on, to pay my dues and my rent. But discovered that I much preferred being a second shooter and capturing the candid moments and the details. As I am now a grandmother, I have been making changes gradually in my business to get back to my roots. Taking this class has been life-changing for me. I was making these tiny little baby steps, as if I was afraid that I would fall out of favor with my current and future clients. The competition is huge here in socal, so how could I dare step away from the white shirts and khakis? I dare. I am about to completely revamp my business model to return to where I started from. I plan to march to the beat of my own drummer. It really does make one happy to follow one's passions and to be true to one's self. I don't even care if I lose any clients. I want to provide for people something that is so essential. Real images that will nail down the memories forever as they interact and love each other. This is so important. At first, I wasn't sure if I would like Kirsten. But by the end of the three days, I loved her as if she were my best friend from forever ago. I love her for her personality, the things she taught us, and her great example. Best class I have ever taken at Creative Live, and that is saying something! Thank you!

Jo Benoy

The great thing about photography is that it can be all things to all people: a hobby, an art form, a profession. As long as I can remember, cameras and pictures have been important to me - for different reasons in different seasons. I have never been particularly interested in formal photos, and I thought my preference for "catching moments" in a style three or four notches above a snapshot made me seem like some sort of slackard. Enter Kirsten Lewis. In three days, she explained, modeled and taught the sort of shooting that I've loved for as long as I can remember. She mirrors my philosophy that good photographs aren't necessarily pretty, and that if a picture is compelling or evocative, it's a good one. Lewis is not only a gifted photographer but a clear and cogent teacher, which is always a welcome combination, and as strong as her tangible skills are her confidence and dedication to her own style and voice. I've watched and bought several CreativeLive courses, but I have enjoyed none more than this one: ever since watching it, my brain has been spinning and my shutter finger has been itchy. I loved, loved, loved this workshop.