I guess the traditional “Family portrait” is usually thought of as:-
- a visit to a shop on the high street where you
- sit in a little room with umbrellas,
- choose a slightly mottled blue background
- get posed in a traditional way
- feel awkward and have to calm the kids down
- get a few shots taken and then
- wait for ages to see the results.
Studio based photography has of course moved on a lot since then, many people using white backgrounds or bold colours, getting you jumping around and lying down. It’s a look that’s had a very long run, how long it’ll last for is debatable, so I decided to err towards a different look with my portraits.
My current thinking is that the world outside creates a timeless backdrop to your family pictures, especially in Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria where you have stunning hills and coastlines on your door step. With each passing month, the landscape changes, from:-
- a snowy winter look where you can have fun throwing snow balls to
- lovely green spring days in the countryside with new born lambs in the background
- amazing bright summers days on the beach making sandcastles with your bucket and spade or
- warm autumnal oranges of fallen leaves being thrown up in the air and children playing conkers
The choice of location can be a very personal one too. In the following shot, the family are in their grannies back yard, now their mother and father’s – a really significant place for them, full of memories from childhood, so a perfect place for them to have photos of their young family taken.
In this shot we see a totally different feel, an urban location, fast moving traffic scoring lines across the backdrop as Anthony stands still, taking stock of the world.
Tree and flower lined woods look fantastic in the spring and early summer, creating a unique background every minute as the sun changes the shadows and light.
The other thing I really like about shooting outdoors, especially with kids, is that its makes people behave more naturally – let kids (or even grown men) loose with a foot ball, get them on the swings, let them play, let them be themselves, let the photos reflect what they are “really” like, not some rigidly posed version of them that doesn’t convey their personality.
So that’s what I like about shooting outside – more opportunities than inside.
The flip side is that its technically more difficult than studio, you have an ever changing source of light to deal with – the sun – which you have to balance up with your own lighting. Thing is, to me, that’s what makes outdoor portraits exciting – you never quite know what you’re going to get and your technical ability with camera and light are tested on each shoot 😉