My First Family Shoot!

Yesterday I photographed my first family!

I was pretty nervous about it, mostly because I have little (ok, NO) experience posing even a small group of people. In fact because I’ve mostly photograph toddlers there is pretty much no posing involved at all, it’s “quicksnapapicutrebeforetheyrunaway!”

So, this represented a huge challenge for me as well as huge opportunity to practice and also to work with a three year old who – gasp- actually takes direction and looks at the camera when you ask her to!

It gave me an appreciation for how much of family photography is learning how to interact and relate to children, which I admit is something I need to work on. Abigail probably spoiled me because although she was a little shy and reluctant to pose for me without her parents – she was incredibly easy to work with.. and incredibly beautiful and photogenic!

Here are my favorite shots from the day:

she looks like a little old fashioned movie star...

Shot with my Canon Digital Rebel XSi with mostly my Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8 Lens and sometimes my Canon 85mm 1.8 Lens at various settings (the light changed a lot!)

I mean could you take a bad picture of that face?  (See bigger, better, more images from this shoot on my photography blog!)

There was a lot involved for me in the preparation of this shoot. I mentioned the posing-  I spent a great deal of time researching on flickr and other websites and compiling and then printing poses that I wanted to try and brought them with me to refer to. It definitely helped though we didn’t get to do many of them because the ground was wettish (bring a blanket next time!)

The other important factor was the location.. we had originally thought we would be doing an indoor shoot, but when I heard that it was going to be 65 degrees out that day I knew we couldn’t pass  up the opportunity to shoot outdoors. Particularly because mom Pamela wanted pics of all three of them which is pretty much impossible to do with the 53″ seamless paper I have (more on that in another post.)

I thought I would have to spend Saturday scouting out locations until I finally opened my eyes to the absolute photographic GOLD mine of a location that I have been literally sitting on for two years – my work place! I work on a university campus that I had never really taken the time to explore with an eye for what it offers as a photography location.  Now I think I am the luckiest person alive to have this place at my disposal.. there are tons of locations we didn’t even get to use because of the lighting in the afternoon (later would have been better but Abigail starts to get a little cranky as the day wears on and we didn’t want to push it).

I mean just look at it!


Clearly I can never leave my job and lose my access to this place!

One thing that I really tried to do differently during this shoot was get more full body shots/poses rather than just face closeups. I’m still learning to compose these and get them in focus well.

This was also my first time using a reflector.. a reflector is a huge round (they come in other sizes too) disc that you use to reflect light back into your subject’s face either in the studio or outdoors.  It really comes in handy when you are shooting in the afternoon and have backlighting like I did for this picture:

If you turn your subject away from the sun you will lose the catchlights in their eyes unless you have something like a reflector to bounce it back in.. the round white light in her eyes is actually the reflection of the reflector.

I bought this one from B&H that comes with a stand because I will also use it indoors this winter:


For this shoot I didn’t bring the stand, I propped it up on my bag when needed or asked one of the parents to hold it for me.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and that the weather was as glorious by you as it was here by us..

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Sara B. says:

Hey Ariana! I posted some of our family pics on my blog (including the kissing pic) if you want to see. We had a serious sun issue, so we may end up reshooting some of them (just the ones of the three of us, a lot of the solo pics of Marino turned out great). 1pm on a sunny day = terrible photo shoot time!!

Sarah says:

Wow, I’m just so thrilled for you!! What a wonderful job you did and also the place you have to shoot from is utterly amazingly perfect! Looks like a magazine picture.

The question I have is do you have a copyright for your business?? I would love to start a business one day and need some info on how to do so. I’ve looked at legalzoom and their price is reasonable to get a copyright for about $150.

I’m proud of you for embarking on this fun journey! The little girl was adorable. I love how she had her hands in her pocket with her legs crossed over! Too cute!

Jeff says:

The pictures look great babe.

Judy N says:

I LOVE that first one…I think it’s one of your best! The picture is so sharp…and the girl is looking dead on into the camera with eyes that just say, “I love my teddy!”

Goldy S. says:

Abolutely stunning!!!! You are so talented!! Can’t wait to schedule pics with you!

ariana says:

@Alicia – I will definitely do one soon!

@Dee, great tip!

@Kimberly -that’s just how clueless I am lol :)

@Kristen, thank you. Shooting “strangers” does force you to up your game – I highly recommend it!

@Lindsay, if I’m ever out in CO I’d be happy to take your pics!

@Christie – that’s a bit of a big topic, but just wanted to say that I have technical issues too.. a lot of these are not so sharp at 100% crop. They “look” sharp here because they are small and I “sharpened for web” in PS (which all digital images need). It helps a lot :) Blur though is most likely too slow shutterspeed or too shallow DOF. As far as white balance – mine is never right in camera, I have to fiddle a lot in LR to get it correct. I have a digital gray card which helps with that but I usually forget to use it!
@Sara B., can’t wait to see how they came out!

Sara B. says:

Ariana- we just took family pictures on Saturday and we did the same picture of us kissing in the background with Marino in the foreground (both looking at us and looking away). I was trying to be original – LOL. I’ll post it when I get it back.
All the shots are beautiful and the location is really amazing!

Okay, what are your secrets for getting such crystal clear images with your equipment. I’ve got a Canon 50D and typically use my 50mm 1.4 or 18-55 2.8 for portrait and head shots but still get grainy images, occasional blur, and off white balance.. I edit in Lightroom and photoshop any advice?

Ava says:

What a good looking kid! Your pics came out awesome.

Lindsay says:

These pictures are beautiful! We just had professional pictures done of our family and the pictures that you took are WAY better than our pics! Too bad you don’t live in Colorado so we could hire you to do our family pics!

Kristen says:

Gorgeous! I have got to get up the courage to ask to photograph somebody else’s kids. Seeing your progression makes me have a need to do it! Fabulous job.

Kimberly says:

Beautiful…. what a sweet, sassy little miss! And you’re right… that university appears to be a goldmine of photo backdrops… how could you not have noticed? ;)

Justina says:

Wowee! Your photos really look good! :) I especially like the last one… great job!

Dee says:

Excellent pics! Grt Job Ariana, love the tips you’ve given.
Wanted to let you know so you could probably post it in one of your photography blogs abt Photoshop Elements 8: Costco is selling it for $49.99 after $30 discount just for the month of November.

Alicia says:

Hmmmm – maybe an idea for a future post: would love to know your tips for composition. All your shots are so perfect. Wondering if they are primarily camera-driven or post-editing driven? I’m just now starting to read up on composition and am re-editing (cropping) all my snapshots. Finally found a really cool way to crop in Photoshop using grids and rule of thirds, etc. But haven’t yet developed an eye for just naturally taking composed photos with the camera.

KaiRayne says:

Gorgeous photography as usual! :) One day I hope to have a great camera and shoot wonderful photos like you. :) I’ve learned quite a bit about my camera just by reading your posts. :) Thank you! :D

Lisa says:

Beautiful photos! I love the shots with the teddy bear :)

Shannon says:

Beautiful photographs Ariana! And I love all of your tips. Thank you!

Alicia says:

really superb! i LOVE the 3rd pic! You’re truly an amazing photographer!