How to shoot an Epic Family Portrait
I was asked about a month back by Simon and Chantal to create a crazy family portrait of them. They had seen my work in the past and wanted something equally exciting for themselves so I headed over to their place to figure out what exactly it was that they wanted.
Turns out they have a beautiful blank vertical piece of wall around their house that they absolutely wanted to fill with a huge family print so we toured the house and finally settled on their staircase as the perfect location to begin the family portrait.
The idea was to create something vertical, dynamic, a touch of surrealism while capturing the spirit of the family. In our case it would be Simon, calmly reading his newspaper as Maude juggled laundry, breakfast and kids all at once! (And yes you heard correctly in the video… those eggs are real, we froze them :P)
As with any composite shot, the first step was to make sure we had a well lit background reference image to start off of.
From there, we shot Simon who was the most seperated and the easiest to shoot from the action. If you’re studious you’ll notice that the lighting hitting simon was slightly different and the reason we could allow for that was because he is completely separated from the action above. I wanted to be sure that he was well lit so we had a diffused beauty dish coming in from the top along with a Nasty Clamp’ed SB-900 from above.
The next step, was to shoot mom. Of course the most complicated but we also needed to know exactly where she would be to place the kids in the right place so it was the next big step. As you can see in the video, we had to use both a hockey stick, and a broomstick with some fishing line to hang all our products up. Yves did a great job there to be our very own levitation device. As you can notice in the BTS shot, one flash was clamped onto the window to simulate windowlight!
I think the toughest part here was really get Chantal to look like she was convincingly waltzing down the stairs! It took a little bit of balancing and lots of laughs but we were eventually quite happy with this one!
From there, it was time to suspend Xavier from the railings. Of course we had to be sure that he would be safe so we had both parents discretely holding him from the back so we could easily remove him from the shot while Yves stayed underneath as additional security.
Maude was the final piece of the puzzle and also the youngest so we had a challenging time getting her in just the right position but in the end we got this one that we were quite satisfied with ! Once again, Yves playing security on the bottom to catch Maude should anything happen.
With all these pieces in place, it was time to play with some photoshop magic and throw in a solid white wall in the background to get rid of the distracting windows in the back, a nice window flare and some contrasts! Voila! Nothing particularly complicated.
To learn more about how to do this type of editing, simply google “composite” or “masking” and you should come about something quite close!