Tips for Taking Family Portraits Outdoors
Why take family portraits outdoors? Besides having a beautiful and fun background, photographing outside provides the chance to use natural lighting. If you are a professional photographer or a serious enthusiast then you know that studio lights, reflectors and the external flash all try to copy the beauty of natural light.
If you are new to photography and have a digital compact and built in flash, then taking your family portraits outdoors is the best way to get professional quality portraits that you’ll want to proudly display in a picture frame in your home.
The Best Natural Lighting for Outdoor Family Portraits
Not all outdoors lighting is ideal. The worst time of day to take family portraits outdoors is mid-day. The best times of day to take outdoor photographs is the hour before sunset and after dawn when the shadows are least harsh and the light is the softest. The closer to these time frames you can take the portrait, the better.
Another good option is to wait for an overcast day when there’s a high overcast, also called bright overcast. This provides enough bright light and is the kind of softness professional photographers spend money on soft boxes to get. If the timing doesn’t work for any of these time frames, find shade that isn’t too dark.
Settings for Outdoor Portraits
The obvious choice and perhaps the perfect choice is the family’s backyard. Or you could take a cue from high school senior photography and take your outdoors family portrait at a place the family enjoys such as a park. If you go away from home, look for times of the day that the location you choose is the least crowded.
You should also consider using a family hobby as a potential setting. If the family loves horses, a green pasture with horses in the background and the family posed in front could work well. If the family sails, consider the boat’s deck.
Speaking of boats, a word of caution. If you decide to take outdoor family portraits on a beach, on water or in the snow, select the beach mode on a digital compact or if you use a DSLR or SLR, use a polarizing filter. This will help decrease the glare. Set the flash to “On” instead of “Automatic” to help reduce shadows on the family. Don’t position the family where they will be facing the sun otherwise they’ll be squinting.
As with any picture, be sure to hide or remove clutter in the background. Do you want to use the natural outdoor lighting but want a plain background? Tack a piece of fabric to a fence. Check the lawn for sprinklers and behind the family for things that might be distracting, like a lamp post.
If you want to minimize the overall background, use the Portrait mode or set your Aperture Priority for a smaller depth of field.
On the other hand, you may want to pose the family so that yard features such as a beautiful tree or garden cottage are part of the picture. Just be sure to compose the shot with the focus on the family. And, whatever background you choose, select a picture frame that complements your portrait. For example, if you setting is at the Museum of Modern Art, you probably want to go with a more modern metal picture frame than an old fashioned antique looking frame.
Whether you are taking family portraits outdoors for others or your own family, use these portrait tips and you’ll be sure to take a portrait that will be proudly displayed in a wood picture frame on the family wall.Tags: drawing, portraits, caricuratures
Filed under: Drawing and Art
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