Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dynamics of a Group Portrait

Since it's not every week that all seven grandchildren are in the same place, KJ's mom wanted a group picture of all these beautiful cousins.

It can be a challenge to get a natural-looking picture of even just one child but times seven is even harder.  I was trying to think of any tips I might have, and my number one tip is, if you have a DSLR camera, find the mode that allows you to take multiple shots at a time when you leave your finger on the shutter button.  Being able to take pictures in a quick sequence can be the difference in a grimace and a pleasant expression, or a hand covering the face and being pulled back down.  Now, this can also leave you with way more pictures than you need, but you can always keep your money shot and delete the rest.  I find this tip indispensable for taking pictures of children.

After spending a lot of time trying to find the best expressions on each of these kids, I thought of a helpful tip that might have resulted in more eyes looking at me.  Only have two other people at most trying to entertain your group, and make sure they're standing on either side of you.  I think this would get more eyes looking toward the camera.  In our case we had 6 adults staggered across the front of the blanket, all coaxing for smiles, so we ended up with eyes looking in all directions.  Those kids think we're nuts sometimes, I'm sure.

If you have photo software that will let you switch faces around and try to get the best possible expression of each kid, it can be pretty helpful.  It takes some time, and it doesn't always work, but it's really nice to be able to pull that trick out of the bag when you have one child who is looking right at you with a great expression while some are in not-so-flattering states.  Like this shot, for instance:

John David, James, and Claire are looking fab, but I caught Haddon in a blink.  You do, however, have to be careful when your software is trying to match up pixels from two different shots.  If you don't zoom in and pay attention to detail you can end up with an extra limb or something crazy.  In fact, I just noticed that this shot where I must have switched a face of James didn't do a good job with his collar.

See how his collar is just kind of floating away from his face.  Whoops.  So, face-switching is helpful, but it can be tricky.  I'm going to have to try and fix that.

By the time we tried to add the grandparents to the shot, some of our crew was getting a little antsy.  This shot is a combining of about 4 pictures.  I try to start with the picture that has the most people looking great and then slowly work on the rest.  It just occurred to me that maybe I should try to take out the truck I gave to Big Daddy to distract Haddon with, but you know, there comes a point where you just need to stop fiddling in Photoshop and start school.  (Though those kids are reading books together, so I don't know if I should stop a good thing.)


  1. I love seeing all the pictures! You do great work!

  2. This is Meredith by the way :)

    1. Thanks, Meredith! And I was trying to figure out who Shane was. :)

  3. You are such an artist, Lynn! I agree with Shane/Meredith. :)
    Beautiful babies!!