Outdoor Group Portrait Posing

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Posing for Family Portraits....5

When posing a group outdoors for a portrait, place the people in a way that incorporates them with the natural elements of the background for a seamless, fluid photograph. Pose a group in a few different ways for a portrait with information from a certified professional photographer in this free video on photography.

Part of the Video Series: Portrait Photography
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Video Transcript

When you take your clients outdoors or your friends and family, if you want to do your own family portraits, you want to go out and you want to think about how people are standing and how they look in the environment. So in this particular image right here, obviously we've got cathedral rock which is a, you know, a big sedona, sedona feature on the creek; kind of put the people on rocks inside; but tie them together by holding hands. Otherwise, they wouldn't look like they were a group and they would be very stiff. So, we also have if you notice there, there standing on one leg with the weigh shifted to one leg which gives angles on the shoulders and the heads. Also notice that the, the layout of the people is making a diamond shape or a, you know, a crescent shape there which is mimicking the shapes in the rocks. You want to, always look for something like that. If you have, most people though, stand everybody up in a line and you know, everybody's facing straight on toward the camera, look very stiff. You want it to look very casual, everybody looks nice and comfortable; the hand holding is comfortable and you know, feet are just kind of relax and very happy. Here's a, here's another example and obviously this group is much larger than the other one and this is going to illustrate two different points. Number one, this is not how I would ever recommend people to dress for their portraits. You see all the different colors and all the different, the whites and everything, the idea for, in my mind to make a great portrait is to have the face the area of highest contrast. And when you have all these different clothings, when you look, you're going to see all the different whites and your eye kind of jumps around there; it doesn't really see the people until you really try. So the good part about this is when you have a group this large as posing, if you can get a couple of stools in there that helps; people being down on their knees; all the people on one side of the photo turn in towards the center of the photo and the people on the other side turn in toward the center of the photo. And the most important person near the center, that would be grandma of course and, you know, this is her whole, whole family in here. And again you're trying to get faces on different levels so that's why some people are on knees, some people are standing, some people are sitting. So the idea is to get different head heights all the way through so that your eye will travel through the photo and looking at all the different faces, rather than just everybody up in a line. Okay, in the outdoor portrait here, we've, you obviously have, you know, the red rocks in the background; you have lots of depth of field. You have two ways to go with this. You could either go very soft and let all of that background go very, very kind of soft by using a white aperture or in this case, because they really wanted the red rocks to be part of that photo, we use the very small aperture, probably F11 in order to have the red rocks and the sky all in focus as well as the people. When you're posing, this is, to me this is a really great way to dress people for an outdoor portrait. The black, the unifying theme being that they're all in a solid color, in this case it's black with blue jeans and because we're outside hiking boots are kind of cool. You wouldn't want them to have a white tennis shoes 'cause that would take your attention away from the faces. And again when we look at the posing for this group, we've got, you know, this is obviously a single family unit; note how the family is pose with, with a basis as a triangle pose, where we have a nice big heavy base for everybody to rest on. We have lines coming up to the top and then within that, then you have other triangles and other, there's another triangle that, you're always looking to build shapes with all the different faces. This is what keeps the portrait interesting and allows you to look around. And if you'll notice that the triangle, the triangle you'll pose here also mimics the triangles that are in the red rocks in the background which really ties everything altogether. Just so you're aware, anything more than one person is a group and so this is a group photo but with a totally different technique for taking the background and letting it fall softly into the background. We've used the rule of thirds on this, this thing so. This is covering one third, this is covering, this is about one third. The idea is that your eye will come in and obviously go right to the faces of the people and you kind of move around and you get brought back into the image in. And the whole idea is whenever you're trying to create a good portrait, you want your eyes to move around in the image whether it'd be from individual faces or around the whole canvass. The way this became nice and soft in the background, it was shot, actually very, actually after the sun went down; so we're shooting wide open at a really wide depth of field with a F28 which allowed all the background rocks to go nice and soft and what I call numbing. That's a technical term numbing.

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