Heirloom Portrait Overview


Introduction to Flash for Children and Family Images


Lesson Info

Heirloom Portrait Overview

So, what is an heirloom portrait? What do I mean by that? Let me pull up this screen here. And go full-frame on the Keynote, there we go. An heirloom portrait in my mind is something that stands the test of time, something that you can look at today, tomorrow, 10 years from now, 50 years from now and it still seems valid and current. So, timeless. A little bit moody. You know, we're not looking for bright, shiny, happy, smiley faces in this scenario. We're looking for a little bit of mood. And by mood, you know what I mean. Serious. Sometimes I use the term mirthy. Mirthy to imply just a slight bit of, "I'm not mean, "I'm happy, but I'm not like really funny." So, mirthy is a word that I came up with. Pensive might be another term, another term to describe it. And then lighting. The lighting is often somewhat delicate. And by delicate, what I mean there, is that it's not harsh. Big umbrella, maybe a reflector, a nice big reflector, and then you want to include a lot of the backdrop as ...

well. The backdrop is just as important a lot of times in these shots. You don't want the backdrop to be devoid of detail. A lot of times in these heirloom pictures I like a little bit of information back there. So, the name of this backdrop... Do you remember the actual name, the product name? Not the company, but the-- Serenity. Serenity. So this is called the Serenity backdrop. And you can see, if we look at it here in the studio, the middle is a little bit brighter. That also comes from a little bit of a stage light effect. And then the outer sides are darker. So it's even got a built-in vignette. This Serenity backdrop is beautiful. I think it's gonna accomplish what we want for this scenario. Another thing as we do these heirloom portraits, is a lot of times they're full-length. They don't have to be full-length, but today I'm gonna do them full-length. So that backdrop needs to go down to the floor and come out. This backdrop is only 12 feet long, I think. If you're buying your own backdrops, you're own muslins, I recommend getting 20 foot long backdrops. That would then let the front of this to go way forward, especially when you're photographing adults. I'm 6 feet tall and you can see here if I'm shooting at, if the photographer's shooting at a little bit lower angle, I'm gonna have an issue with the top of this backdrop, it kind of be going out of the frame, or coming into the frame, so higher and farther out. Mike, people can get this exact backdrop at Seamless Photo. These all come from SeamlessPhoto.com, so if you wanna get a backdrop, you can just go to SeamlessPhoto.com right now, open a browser window and actually check them out. Yeah. What's the price range. 200 bucks. Cool. And that sounds a little bit expensive, but here's the cool thing about SeamlessPhoto.com. They hired a bunch of pro photographers who are well-known in this industry to paint and design these backdrops. So, I think they have like eight different models and each of them are designed by famous photographers. And so, this one, I don't remember which photographer created it, but photographers like Lindsay Adler, other, I think, I won't say any others because I'm not sure exactly, but they actually created it, designed it, painted, and these are all custom painted for each of you to use. This is great. Another thing to think about with these big seamless backdrops is wrinkles. Now we were moving kind of quick between the last segment and this segment, so we didn't get all of the wrinkles out. You can see them here. So, we may have to do a little bit of work in lightroom to pull out some of those wrinkles. We use a steamer and so you go behind it and you basically steam out the wrinkles. That's really important. Make sure to spend the time to steam out those wrinkles because they're a pain in the rear to try and Photoshop out or lightroom out, whatever. We'll see how well that works today. So, I'm gonna piece this together mentally. I'm gonna have the kids come up here one by one. And we're gonna stand in a posture that's real similar for each of the kids. I'll probably have them stand something like this, looking towards the camera this way. And then change their position, look towards the camera that way. And, again, it's kind of a timeless look. We may try a few other positions for each of the kids. And then when it's all said and done, my ideal case would be three similar portraits of each of the kids that we can frame and print for the parents.

Class Description

When capturing images of families and children, you preserve memories for generations. Learning how to use flash opens up so many options, as you now longer have to be constrained by weather or location. Photographer Mike Hagen will help you incorporate flash into this genre of photography to create family heirloom images that also capture a moment in time.

In this class, Mike teaches you how to:

  • Create looks that wouldn’t be possible in natural light
  • Use your flash to freeze action
  • Use reflectors, modifiers and other lighting equipment to enhance your flash

Learn to harness the power of flash photography to make their memories last a lifetime. Give clients those special images by using flash photography to preserve their special moments.


Jayne Fletcher

Amazing class! Lots of information


Love the natural way Mike has to explain and to work on the studio. Plenty of tips and clear knowledge transfer for me that I manage quite well natural light but that I still mess with the on-camera flash.

Robert Spencer

The class seems great, but my connection - even at 20MB still give me 20 seconds and then butts out for a minute :(