Shoot: Flash With Family on Couch


Introduction to Flash for Children and Family Images


Lesson Info

Shoot: Flash With Family on Couch

On the set when we do family photography, it's nice to mix things up a little bit. And I'm doing this... (child fussing) If you want to take Xander, you can take him out if you want to. It's up to you. But on the set, it's nice to have a bunch of different options for posing. And so what I do a lot of times is I'll pose around one thing that's really common. You pose around a person or an element that everybody likes. In this case what I do is I'm gonna show how to pose like on a couch. And we could do all kinds of fun stuff with this. You can have people line up side by side, or you can have everybody bunch up to one side. But everyone's comfortable on a couch, I guess is my point. Not everyone's comfortable standing there, right. But everyone knows what to do on a couch, 'cause everyone knows how to sit on a couch. That's like really common and really normal. So having a couch in a studio, couch at home, bueno. So, whatever percentage of the Luetke family wants to come over the couch...

, great. Nice. Dad, why don't we have you start here, you can sit right there in the corner. Nice. And... I like this kind of setup. Why don't you two switch places. Okay. So we got, we got a height differential here which I kinda like. I like that little bit of a tracking. And then what we're gonna do is we're gonna swap the colors left to right, in a second. Alright. One of the worst things that you can do when you're posing people on a couch, you think he's ready? Who knows? Eh, come on, that's alright. One of the worst things that you can do is to have everybody sit against the back. So go ahead sit against the back. I just wanna show this since you guys are my professional models for the day. Everyone is comfortable, but photographically it's not the best. Oh. Hi, buddy. It's alright. So I'm gonna have you guys come forward a little bit. Yeah, your back's off. (baby fussing) Ohh. Alright, well, what do you think? For him. Do you wanna... (woman murmurs) Okay. Let's do that. Alright, good. And then if he does calm down, and if nap time happens or food happens, feel free to come back on in. Maybe grab a snack? Alright. So for you, I'm gonna have you pull your dress forward. Do you mind if I help you with that? Right there. Excellent. And then I got everybody nice and close, and Dad, I'm gonna have you take your arm and just put it behind the girls. Yeah, that's great. And I like you putting your head on his shoulder. And you girls, okay, that's kinda interesting. We'll go with it. We'll see how that works. I wanna see your beautiful eyes. So that's fun. And then dad, for you, maybe this arm, why don't we do something a little more comfy. We'll try that and we'll also try it down there. Nice. Again, one flash. One gigantic umbrella. Up high. I'm gonna shoot basically underneath that. Right there. Change the angle down a little bit. And as I'm doing this, this is one of the things I wanna talk about is, we were successful today with the family. We got one shot. I call that a success. With six kids ranging from almost 2 years old to 10, it's a feat to get everybody looking at the camera in a successful shot. So everything from here on out is just bonus. Alright, I'm gonna have you lean forward, come forward a little bit. Right there, great. And I'm kinda thinking maybe dad, we'll have you cross your legs eventually, but we'll see what this first photo looks like. Okay, I'm at F-11. I'm at ISO 500. And I'm just gonna take one quick test shot. Alright, dad. Nice. And dad, I'm gonna have you tilt your head ever so slightly. Not so much that it's kinda cheeky, but enough that says, yeah, I like you guys too. Nice. Nice. And just to see what it looks like, let's go ahead and bring your arm down. And yeah, maybe bring it back so we don't see your fingers. I do. I bumped my shutter. So this great observation from the studio audience is telling me, hey, Mike, you got a mistake. Good learning opportunity. Hold your position. Wanna talk about what just happened. My shutter speed is at a 250th, or the maximum should be 250th of a second. And we've got a 400th of a second in that image. That illustrates why you have to pay attention to that maximum shutter sync speed. So now I'm dropping it back down to 250th. One little tip for you. Most cameras have a way to lock out your shutter speed and aperture. And it's usually in the menu system. You can actually lock everything down. I recommend doing that. There's so many moving parts today. Crying kids and I'm putting the camera up and down. Lock things down, you'll be happier in the long run. You already know what to do. I love it. Super. And I'm gonna do one that I get their feet in there as well. Cool. Is that better? Yep, they're all coming through. Super. Love it. Wanna bring in a reflector and show how that can help. So bring this in. Again, wide angle, or low and wide for this one. Then I'm gonna move this a little bit off axis. There. And sometimes I even just go in and look at it from their perspective, just to make sure everything is looking good. What do you guys think? Feel good? I think it looks good. I agree. But now that I'm off axis, I can actually bring this down a little bit. Get a little bit better catch lights in their eyes. Okay. And then I'll end up shooting right through the gap. Yeah, this is great. Here we go. Wait for the beep. There we go and we'll take another one. One, two, three. Man, you guys' smiles are so perfect. Good coaching, dad. I'm impressed. How do they look on the computer? They look superb. Superb. That's really great. I'm really pleased with those. Just for the sake of it, I'm gonna do one more pose, and this will be a teaching pose. I'm gonna bring in a smaller light source, just to show you what it looks like when you use a soft box versus a big umbrella. I think you all know the answer mentally, can kind of figure out what's going on. But with the soft box it just takes a little more work. So, I'm gonna pull this over here. Get this a little bit off set. Take my flash out. Are we okay with that? Okay. No, okay, I'll walk around it. I'll grab my soft box. Oh, there it is back in the corner. And because the family shrunk a little bit, we're down to four, the soft box will probably work. And what I want you to be thinking about is should the soft box be vertical or should it be horizontal? Probably horizontal for this scenario. And I probably don't want to include a lot of their feet in this photo either. Take out my diffusion dome. Pull out my diffusion panel. Here we go. So I will go horizontal here. Perfect. And I'm gonna raise up the height. I'll end up shooting kind of right below it, just like that. And just for fun I will leave this in here. And bring it in as close as I can but just out of the camera frame, like that. And if that's not good enough, then I will throw in another reflector on the other side. Quarter power. 250th of a second. F-11. ISO 500. I have a feeling it's gonna be too bright. We'll find out. Good. Man, let's see what it looks like on the computer. (computer beeps) Are we tethered still? Yep, we are. Yeah, it's a little bit bright. It's a little bit hot overall. So I'm gonna drop my ISO down to... I'll drop it down 2/3 of a stop down to 320th. Question. Having that in the corner, is that causing any reflection back? Uh-huh. It is, so is that your point? My point was to move it off of set. Her question is, that big umbrella, we moved it to the back of the set. And just for expediency's sake, I just pushed it there. But you're exactly right. We are now getting light shining from the background onto them. It's not necessarily a bad thing. But it's a very good observation, it does now impact the overall scene. And you can see it's even in the upper right corner of the frame too. Is the light reflecting from the opposite reflector then? 'Cause this light isn't hitting it, it's reflecting, the light is hitting that reflector and then going back over, right? Yeah, the soft box is sending, so, the front of the soft box is a flat panel. And most of that light is going on the family. But you can see some of it is shining up there to that umbrella. And then, good observation, other amount of light is shining from there up to the umbrella. But by that time, the time it's gone here to there to there, it's almost insignificant. Is that a question with your... Okay. And Drew, I'm gonna move this a little bit closer to you, just so it is out of frame. Okay, so back to two thoughts ago. What did I change? I decreased the ISO to get a little bit better exposure. Okay. Yeah, and Dad, tilt your head ever so slightly. There you go. One, two, three. Oh! Excellent. And then the next shot I take, and this will probably be my last one, I'm gonna zoom out a little bit so you can see the light coverage on their feet, all the way to their head. There we go. Good. And that actually did a pretty good job of exposing their feet. Better than I thought it would. Overall. And I'll zoom in on their faces. That looks good. Good job, girls. Good job, dad. Nice. And I'll go back one frame. One of the great things about digital as opposed to film is you're able to see these things in real time. It really dramatically cuts down the learning curve on this process. I mean you guys were all able to see immediately what the problems were with my shutter speed and my aperture. So, that's one of the reasons I love shooting digital. Okay. I think Xander is probably out. You think he's done for the day? Alright, maybe taking a nap. This is what I see from the background. I see, yeah, we can hear him in the back. So I think what we'll do is we'll call that good for the family. You know what, we got just a tiny bit more time that I wanna take. And I'm just gonna mix things up ever so slightly. I'm gonna have you kinda go to the middle of the couch, dad, and then I'm gonna have the girls kinda gather around you on their knees. Alright. You go ahead and come up here. You get on your knees, and you sit up tall on your knees like this. There you go. And you put your arms like that around dad. Yeah, and you do this, like that around dad. How about this right there? Good. Now what should we do with you? What do you think? What do you think? Shall we go from behind or... Yeah, why don't we have you go behind, right back here. And let's see if we can pose that well. And you, I'm gonna have you schooch down just a tiny bit. There you go. You come forward. And I want your head to kinda go maybe right here. So go up higher on your knees if you can. Yeah. And get nice and... Let's try, we're gonna have you go over this way. Go ahead and take your arm out. And you bring your chin right up to here. Yes. And then you go right in next to your sis. See how close everybody is? That's one of the cool things, or one of the important things about portraiture, is get everybody close. Everybody seems happy and lovey and all that good stuff. But you're too far forward, so we're gonna scooch you back, like that. You bring your head forward, you come down. Come down ever so slightly. Yeah, right there. We'll just see how that works. Probably it looked better in my head than it does actually in real life, but that's okay. And we'll use a similar type of lighting for this. Cool, alright. Squeeze in, nice. And why don't you take your hand and put it right on your daddy's arm. Yeah, right here on his arm. Yep, perfect. Okay, kiddos, here we go. Nice. Nice little tight shot here. Okay, see what that looks like. With a little more time I would have posed them a little bit better, but not bad. Not bad at all. One flash, you can see now that I'm using the soft box. The catch lights are a lot smaller, and the light is much more intense. You can see the shadows are harder. So ideally we would shoot this, again, with the bigger umbrella. But you guys have seen that before and I don't think there's any reason to reshoot it. I just wanted to illustrate that point. Harder light, smaller catch lights, it's a little bit more intense, specular look. And to be honest, I don't like it as much. I like that big umbrella mo better. Alright, I think we're done. So everybody give them a hand. Congratulations. (applause) I need high fives from you all. Thank you, thank you. Thank you. Thanks, dad. Handshake, high five. We're gonna call them back in a little while and do some black and white portraits with the girls. So they'll be back on set. Would it have been better to have gone with the 3 by 4 soft box instead of the 2 by 3? Do you think it would have been a little bit softer light? Yeah. We have another soft box here on set that they can see but those at home can't see. It's a big 3-foot by 4-foot. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, and even potentially moving it a little bit off axis and then using a reflector on the other side, that would have been a good approach. Again, bigger is better a lot of times in these situations. A lot of times in portraiture, you're trying to create a harsh look or an intense dramatic look. And other times like with families, very rarely are you trying to produce that look. So bigger is better, softer is better.

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 :(