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Category Archives: Photo Tips

Family Portraits Under Pressure

If you have been a photographer for hire for any length of time, I am sure you have had your share of pressure situations. Being a wedding photographer, I have had mine for sure! Today was a simple mini family portrait session. What I mean by “mini” is, on location for about 20 minutes. This shoot lasted exactly 14 minutes from the time of the first shot to the last and 5 of those minutes were of the dog while we waited to get grandma back in the car. The main contributor to the issues was good old Mother Nature. It was downright cold and the wind was playing all sorts of tricks on everyone’s hair. When we met up, I had planned on bringing the family to some of my choice locations at the park, however the family was concerned about grandma (she is almost 93!) and how cold it was so they thought that we should do the shots right in front of the parking lot. Ouch! Panic! Poker Face. “Let’s go over here.” I motioned to a slightly better backdrop and the only thing within a couple of feet from utter horrendousness.

Here is the tip for this type of situation: When your clients are upset or not happy (mom was pretty mad since she had spent some time getting her hair done and the wind took care of that) YOU need to be the calm one. They need to sense that everything is alright. This will help them relax. Play as if the weather is perfect, the shots are coming out perfect, and THEY are perfect. By the end of the session you will have them convinced. All in all we got some good shots. I had to shoot with some tight crops to get rid of fences, cars, people, and baseball fields. The only two good things were the willingness of the family (Grandma was happy to do whatever, dad was a crack up tossing his hat here and there, mom was a good sport, the dog was a perfect angel, and their daughter was the family’s glue.) and the fact that it was overcast. Had it been a sunny day I would have had to insist we go farther into the park. Here are some shots from the two simple locations about 20 and 50 feet from the cars.

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Copyright © 2010 by Jen O’Sullivan http://www.jenosullivan.com

Beverly Hills Wedding Photographer, Jen O’Sullivan is a boutique wedding photographer who specializes in portrait journalism.

Jen O’Sullivan Boutique Wedding Photography | 357 South Robertson Boulevard, Beverly Hills, California, 90211 | 310-494-6547

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Picking a Backdrop Color for Studio Portraits

Family portraits can be a lot of fun. I always start off with a simple darker backdrop. I see a lot of photographers using light blue or lighter backgrounds in general. I think this is not the most appealing. Everyone from light skinned to dark skinned look best with a richer toned backdrop. The look will be more warm and inviting. When you surround someone with darker tones it brings attention to the people. An old photo darkroom trick that dates back to the beginning of photography is vignetting: darkening of the edges. This happens naturally in some older cameras and artificially in the dark room or Photoshop/Lightroom. You can still see it today in the higher end commercials and movies and of course, still photography. This is the same concept for darker backdrops to move the attention to the person. A tip for those of you who do not want to purchase a backdrop: paint several walls in your home that are close to windows in darker tones such as army green (my favorite,) slate blue, or deep burgundy. When you place your subject against the wall make sure you are at least 3-4 feet away from the wall’s surface and have good window light on them. Here is a session from last weekend with the Awan Family and their sweet dog, Gambit.

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Copyright © 2010 by Jen O’Sullivan http://www.jenosullivan.com

Beverly Hills Wedding Photographer, Jen O’Sullivan is a boutique wedding photographer who specializes in portrait journalism.

Jen O’Sullivan Boutique Wedding Photography | 357 South Robertson Boulevard, Beverly Hills, California, 90211 | 310-494-6547

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