You will often be asked by your Clients where you like to shoot outside of the studio. No doubt, you already have a great working knowledge of the area surrounding your home, but it can really help to look a little further afield and build up a portfolio of go-to spots to suit every situation, weather and style.
Preparation is key
The starting point is a discussion with the whole family to work out what mood and feeling they want to capture. Are they looking to showcase their favourite time of year, or a key time of celebration, such as a birthday? Try to understand what they like to do as a family, and where they like to go. Chances are, if they are all doing something they love and are familiar with, such as a walk in a local park, they will be at their most relaxed and comfortable.
Whether it’s a beach, a park or lake you’ve settled on – try and find somewhere that offers broad vistas as well as objects of interest. A beach for example is a great option, but try to find a spot near a beach hut, or with boats or trees in the background to add variety to the shot. Alternatively, add your own bit of interest. A piece of driftwood, a bucket and spade for the kids or, as in this case, a kite, all add a splash of interest and colour to the scene. The ideal space of course would be somewhere offering a variety of backdrops, such as a Country Park with both dense woodland and open parkland for variety of both backdrop and light.
The Golden Hours
As with all outdoor photography, timing is key. If at all possible, try and push for the ‘golden’ hours sessions of just before sunrise and before sunset. Not always practical, I know, but it will give you the opportunity to capture stunning portraits when the changing light it at it’s very best. Don’t forget to meet a good hour or so beforehand to make sure you are well set up and everyone is comfortable with each other before the light starts to change.
If its’s simply not practical to meet at sunrise or sunset (and with young children, this is a likely scenerio) then you need to think creatively. The midday enemy is, of course, shadows so the best solution is to put your subjects fully in the shade to avoid both squinting and the dreaded shadow partially obscuring faces, or choose an indoor space with high ceilings and lots of windows to allow the light to flood in.
Whatever the weather
Cloud coverage makes for beautiful outdoor shots – the light is even without shadows to worry about, and there’s no squinting or children getting hot and bothered to contend with. Open spaces might be quieter too, affording you the luxury of popular tourist spots that would otherwise be too crowded.
Finally, be flexible and stay relaxed to ensure the family have an enjoyable experience – whatever the weather or setting unexpectedly throws at you. If you stay focused and engaging, and your subjects stay relaxed and happy, you are likely to create gorgeous portraits that can be shared on prints, canvases and gifts for years to come.