How To Take A Family Portrait

I was asked to take a family portrait Sunday while at Pleasant Street Church. Since I rarely go anywhere without a camera I was ready for anything. My weapon of choice is my trusty Fuji X-E1 with its kit 18-55mm F/2.8-4.0 zoom lens. One of the reasons I keep this lens on the camera while at church is that it has a wide to medium focal length, good speed and great optical image stabilization. What this all means is that the lens is versatile, sensitive in low light situations and can be handheld with sharp images available without the need for using a flash or tripod. My camera comes with a small built-in flash that is rarely used because I prefer the look of natural light photography, especially when taking portraits.

I mention this a lot but feel it’s part of how I take family portraits. I shot the photo below at ISO 6400 F/6.4, 1/17″ at 24.3mm in RAW format. Shooting in RAW allows the widest latitude of editing adjustment and 256 times the data than with the same shot taken in JPEG/JPG format. I also shoot in continuous shooting mode at 6 frames a second so that handheld shots may produce sharp photos while capturing the perfect expressions. I’ve done this for years and the results I get justify the means.

I was asked by the mother in this shot to pick out the location and to pose her family members. I told her that the photograph would turn out better if they picked a comfortable pose themselves in the location I chose. The background mechanized projection screen was raised out of sight and the new lectern moved out of sight. It took me less than 10 seconds for the shooting. I shot one series in horizontal orientation and the 2nd in portrait mode. As I mentioned earlier I don’t use a flash and almost always handhold my camera. My camera holding technique is always rock solid, allowing extremely stable shots when combined with the optical image stabilization.

When processing the images I choose the best expressions and the sharpest frames. This shooting went very well as I had no problems with this family getting a great pose and expressions. They should have been professional models as they had beautiful smiles and looked right at me without much movement or prompting at all. I shoot my portraits very quickly before the smiles get strained. The portraits below turned out lovely. I would be proud to have a copy on my wall.

Family Portrait #2

Family Portrait #1

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3 thoughts on “How To Take A Family Portrait

    • This was quite spontaneous as the family had obviously planned this in advance, counting on me being there with my camera. I believe I’m becoming predictable. 🙂

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