Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Getting ready for Christmas Photos

It's that time of year when we are all getting ready to take family Christmas portraits.

Mark, being the resident photographer of our family, has shown me so much about setting up
for a good portrait. As you get ready to take pictures of your family, keep these basics in mind:

1. There should not be significant gaps between people sitting or standing next to each other. Overlap and get close. Eyes are drawn to gaps and not to faces.

No gaps, pyramid outline (see #2).

2. The outline of the people should be a pyramid. For instance, if you have some sitting and some standing, see #1. No gaps! Of course, this does not apply if your entire family clan (Dugger size) is getting pictures taken.

Do you see how your eyes are thrown off by the tall gal (Emily) at top? You spend time looking at the bolt and chain and not on the faces.
3. Watch your perspective. Make sure you aren't making photos look too leggy or the bottom of a shoe is wayyy in front. Look for soles of shoes showing, arms at funny angles, and how high or low you are pointing the camera. Too far of an angle up or down exaggerates certain things about people.
See how the downward shot makes it too leggy/bodyish?
Ah, that's better!

On the photo below, the angle is slightly above eye level, a good angle for this shot. Notice how not having a pyramid shape, but having a gap in between the two people standing makes your eyes wander and you don't know where to look. Try to avoid this. If this were a posed picture and not a candid, I would have had Amber sit closer to Sarah (mom) and Jonathan kneel on the floor to make it more of a pyramid shape.
4. Watch the lines. As mentioned above, arms at funny angles need to be watched, but take it a step farther. An arm should lead to a focal point, a head should lead an eye to a line or another focal point.
Notice the above picture. Sarah's elbow is a bit distracting, but if her arm were down, your eye would be drawn to the baby (McKenzie). Amber's arm, being bent, is pointing straight at the McKenzie's 's head, but it is not at a flowing angle so it's distracting instead. I know, I know, I'm being really picky now!

It would look better if this were a pyramid shape (notice the gap?), but it is a good example of lines at work. Do you see how the heads being in a line and the arms (Robert's and Raeley's) all lead your eyes in the same line to Cameron, the cute little one at the bottom. If we had shifted Raeley (tall girl) over toward Robert (in dark blue shirt), the gap would have been eliminated.
5. Skinny tips: to make people look more skinny, have them turn to the side a bit. Make sure they stand or sit up straight. Have them face the natural light if you are not using a flash. Keep the camera slightly above eye level so they look up slightly to slenderize the face.

Happy Holiday Snapping!


Kimberly said...

I will not be offended that most of the what not to do pictures are mine. I will not be offended... Hey! Wait a minute!!!!!!!!!!!!!

...maybe I should read this a few more times... or wait until YOU come in town to take my pictures for me!

Kristie said...

I knew I should have called you first.... Lame excuse, but I have more of your pictures downloaded on my computer than my own! And, it's referring to posed pictures, not candids. At least everyone gets to see how cute your kids are! That was my main reason anyway. Really.