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Family & Wedding Formal Posing

great example of interacting with families for portraits

How to Pose Families for Portraits and wedding formals

great example of interacting with families for portraits

Get Everyone To Smile

Posing a family for a portrait may sound easy enough, but when it comes down to it, it can be one of the most difficult tasks for a photographer.  Especially when you have large groups such as wedding formals. To read more about shooting weddings visit, wedding photographer long island, Jasmine. A lot must be considered when devising a family portrait sitting, from location of the shoot to the individual personality of family members to the arrangement of each person in the frame. To get the best portraits, consider these quick and easy tips for posing families.

Traditional Poses

Traditional family photos usually involve a cluster of family members in various stages of sitting, kneeling, or standing. To make such portraits feel more dynamic and alive, consider the following:

  • Find an uneven surface such as a staircase or a gently sloping hill. Have each family member stand (or sit, or kneel) in a manner such that each person is on a different plane, thus avoiding similar eye and head levels, which increases visual interest.
  • Force small personal bubbles so people aren’t awkwardly far apart. Even families will start out with far too much distance between them; your job is to get them looking as if they like one another!
  • Ensure no one is covered up by staggering each person in the composition of the photograph. Remember it’s not just the eyes that you need to see; it’s their whole face.
  • Use triangular composition to give interest to the photo. Place more people on the bottom to give width, and place one person at the top of the pose. Doing so gives the impression of the family being a single unit.

Candid Poses

Traditional posing has lost some luster in recent years in favor of more candid family photos. Letting the group interact with one another more casually can allow you to capture some truly beautiful moments. When utilizing candid poses, keep the tips listed above in mind, while also giving these techniques a try:

  • Running toward the camera can garner nice movement and flow. Just be sure no one is covered up!
  • Encourage physical contact such as hugging or cheek-to-cheek posing. Having children piggyback their parents is another fun technique.
  • Have families look at one another, rather than at the camera, to give photos a more natural feel.
  • Get the family laughing in order to capture truly genuine smiles, rather than those that can seem forced in more traditional portraits.
family posing examples

Bad Example- only the kid is smiling

These same tips work for engagements and weddings as well.  Especially for the dreaded formal wedding pictures after the ceremony.  These can prove to be some of the hardest types of portraits to take.  The reason being is you have very little time to take several separate groupings.  To make matters worse you will be responsible for posing between 20-100 people.  Yes, you read that right, 100 people.  This is one of the most difficult things that wedding photographers have to deal with. So before you start shooting weddings you are best to have a lot of experience in posing families!

Ultimately, the type of pose you use will come down to what the family wants. Some clients will want something traditional while others will want nothing to do with such formal photos. Whether you pose a family in a traditional or candid manner, you’ll employ the same basic techniques for getting the best shots and creating memories that last a lifetime.  To understand more about what goes into shooting weddings and many of their nuances make sure you check out my friends blog who is a wedding photographer in long island.

For further information on posing family’s check out this youtube video



Directional Lighting For Photography

Using Directional Lighting For Photography

When photographing subjects in a studio, you can precisely manipulate various aspects of light, including intensity, direction, and color. However, when photographing your subject outdoors, your ability to manipulate these aspects of natural light is largely diminished. Rest assured though, because there are several types of directional lighting methods you can use to get the most out of natural lighting and get the best photos possible.

Pre wedding of asian coupleFront-Lit

When the sun is shining directly on the subject and is therefore at the photographer’s back, the scene is front-lit. This type of lighting is great for evenly illuminating the subject. But in such bright light the small details and sense of depth in the scene can be somewhat negated.

Pro: Great for bringing out vibrant colors, especially in landscapes.

Con: Not so great for portraiture because subjects will squint with the sun in their eyes.


Backlighting occurs when the sun is behind the subject; therefore the subject is in shadow. To use this situation to your advantage, expose for the brightest part of the scene you’re shooting to get a nice silhouette. Alternatively, you can zoom in on your subject and expose for the darkness of the shadows in order to get an image that is very softly lit.

Pro: An “artsier” alternative to front-light that also eliminates the squinting factor.

Con: May require artificial light to make subjects visible; may also cause lens flare if a lens hood is not used.


As the name suggests, side lighting occurs when the sun’s rays enter the scene from the left or right. A subject that is side-lit is in both light and shadow, creating more dramatic results with various forms and textures. Side lighting is especially effective for black and white photography, which relies on the presence of fine details to make a powerful impact.

Pro: Enhances color in lighted areas and texture in shadowed areas, while giving photographs a feeling of being three-dimensional.

Con: Can result in harsh contrasts, necessitating the use of a reflector or artificial light source to lighten up shadowed areas.

Side lit photoConclusion

Making use of natural lighting allows you to capture the essence of the outdoor scene you’re photographing without relying on artificial lights. Although certainly helpful and necessary, artificial lighting can make photos look, well, artificial, particularly when compared to natural light photos.

Taking photos (good ones, at least!) with natural lighting requires a lot of patience and a great deal of practice. But photographers that can master the use of front, back, and side lighting can produce some stunning photos that would be unattainable in a studio setting. It’s a bonus not to have to carry around bulky lighting equipment either!

Much of this information came from interviewing Bob Hallam who is a wedding photographer in Chicago.  Be sure to check out his fine art photography on his blog because he does an excellent job with directional lighting.  Thanks again for taking the time to speak with me!


Create Visually Stunning Photos

Having Great Composition

One of the most well-known photography tricks, the rule of thirds is also among the most powerful. If you seek a way to make your photos look more dynamic and interesting, using the rule of thirds is the way to go.

little girl smiling and laughingBasic Overview

The rule of thirds posits that in order to compose the most interesting photos, the subject(s) need to align with imaginary lines that divide the scene into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. Essentially the goal is to imagine a grid in which two vertical and two horizontal lines create nine regions in the photograph. The four points where horizontal and vertical lines intersect are an especially good place for the center of the subject to fall. Oddly, by moving the subject off center, the rule of thirds creates a scene that has much more balance.

Why Use the Rule?

Whether you’re photographing landscapes, sporting events, portraits or engagements, the rule of thirds will allow you to bring more visual interest to the photo. The idea is that by moving the primary subject of the scene to an off-center position, you give viewers a more dynamic photo and one that appears more natural. For example, rather than having a person stand in the dead middle of the frame, moving him or her to the left or right creates more interest. Doing so also prevents the photo from looking like a mugshot!  To see how the rule of thirds can be applied check out the portfolio of Bob Hallam, Chicago Engagement Photographer.

It is important to note that the rule of thirds can be applied on multiple planes. For example, a scene can be composed such that an upright subject is aligned with one of the two vertical lines of the grid, while a horizontal subject is simultaneously aligned with one of the horizontal lines of the grid. This also works with two vertical subjects or two horizontal subjects, or all four at the same time.

Married CoupleImagine a scene in which there is a field in the foreground, a sunset in the background, a tree on the left and a person on the right. Aligning these four distinct subjects along the four planes of the imaginary grid will allow you to compose the shot in a manner that draws attention to each subject while also bringing organization to a scene that could otherwise look and feel overwhelming.

Using the rule of thirds also gives you an opportunity to creatively use the negative space in the frame, or the areas of empty space around your subject. For example, a portrait of a woman standing in a park that is composed using the rule of thirds might have grassy areas or trees in the negative space. The composition of the photo allows for the negative space to define and emphasize the main subject – the woman. It simultaneously allows your eye to be naturally drawn to her while also giving your eye an area to “rest.” The grassy areas and the trees inform you of the environment in which the woman was photographed without becoming the stars of the show.

How to Implement the Rule of Thirds

Using the rule of thirds is pretty straightforward. Survey the scene you’d like to capture and identify the most important subjects. Try to position those elements along (or near) the vertical or horizontal axes of the grid, bearing in mind that they do not have to be perfectly aligned, but just close enough. Moving yourself around, both up and down and left and right, will help you more effectively align the subjects, and can provide a new and interesting composition to the shot.

 Bending (or Breaking) The Rule

As with many rules in art, they aren’t always completely fail safe. Some situations will arise when using the rule of thirds just will not work for your composition. If by throwing the rule of thirds aside you get a much more visually impactful photo, by all means, go for it! Experimenting with different compositions is how you will get the best photos. But before you go off breaking all the rules, be sure you’ve got the rule of thirds down pat. It will help you see scenes with a more critical eye and will actually help you compose better rule-breaking photos too.

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