The Process of Family Portrait

I recently posted why my family photo sucked. It makes me mad, but hey… when you’ve got 5 second to make a portrait happen. Then you gotta make it so. The gent on the right had to get outta there, so we had to just make it happen. Had the mom-unit been available to stand in the back, this would have been AH-Mazing. However, I wanna share the process.


Here’s the absolute 1st shot:



Wait?! What? This is a piece of overexposed bullshit…. Yes, exactly. That’s the point. This is the 1st shot. I’m throwing my light up, popping a light and seeing what’s up. But that’s what this is all about… knowing how to make the right adjustments. Alright… so let’s step back a minute. Here’s the setup and a couple things that I changed right away.



So here are a couple lessons that I also added about photoshop. Alright… let’s throw up some other shots and see how this progressed.



Ok. Now I’ve got the light right. Now let’s start getting people posed up:



Alright… so I’ve got the light about right and the guys on the end are “bookending” the photo. However, it’s hard to get 5 people to hit the cue at the same time.



Alright… so in the end, I had to fix Wendy’s head.



So… how do I approach editing something like this?

1. I want it warm, because that makes it inviting. #BasicPsychology

2. I want to lightly retouch the faces. Sometimes I have a tendency to over-do it. #MakeTheClientLookGood

3. I light to lighten up the irises and whiten teeth. #NoOneWantsButterTeeth

4. I try to get rid of distractions. For this photo, it means eliminating the stuff from the bottom right and left corners. I did my best to eliminate by copying-stretching-pasting pieces. #NoDistractions

5. Finally, remember the rules of composition. I emphasized balance and brightness. Remember, the eye is drawn to the brightest point of the photo, so I made sure to drop the background as much as possible. #Composition

6. I also went in and used a brown overlay layer to burn in the shadows. #DodgeAndBurn


Hope this was something you’re interested in.

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This Photo Sucks and it Makes Me Mad

This Photo Sucks and it Makes Me Mad

This is a great group of people that I got to shoot this weekend. Looks nice, right? Great color. Pretty simple. Nice expressions. Ok lighting work. Then you slow start to realize the blank hole in the center of the photo, like a god damn black (or in this case white) hole. It just sucks your attention to the center. I really wish I would have had someone else in the middle here… so infuriating that in the moment I didn’t see THE SHOT.

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Clamshell Lighting… on a Budget

Came across this lesson on Phlearn today:

I started thinking… damn… I don’t really have an Avenger Mini Boom arm sitting around of an extra $100 sitting around to pick one up.

Here’s what I did have sitting around:




Ok… so yes, not the cheapest setup, but could easily be done with regular YN-560 Flashes.

Here’s the list:

  • 2 Light Stands
  • A Tripod
  • 5 in 1 reflector
  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Remote (Timer works, but this is easier)
  • 4 Flashes

My first thought was how do I do clamshell with no arm? How can I shoot through without an arm across?

Then I thought how do I get diffused light coming from overhead? Well…. I need to use the diffuser from my 5-in-1. I need to angle it above to channel some of that downwards. Then I figured that if I can zoom my flashes into the panel, that should work.

Phlearn recommends a 3-1 power ratio, thankfully, another flash, on 1/4 power should fill the shadows nicely.

You can see below that the light is pretty even overall, but you can see the leaking around the edge. The big challenge is that the ceiling is low. I couldn’t just use a shoot through without getting a chair. I have the @Zarias recommended 30″ umbrella that would be perfect for this. as the main diffuser, but the side and unwieldy nature makes it tough in this setup.

Here’s the raw shot:


Here’s the Setup:


Removed the bright spot w/ a content aware fill. Removed the bracket in the background with a copy and paste. Adjusted the white balance, so my shirt didn’t look dingy. A good crop and blam!

A decent shot from nothing:


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IPhoneography: Lizard stopped

IPhoneography: Lizard stopped

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IPhoneography: let sleeping dogs

IPhoneography: let sleeping dogs

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IPhoneography: play time

IPhoneography: play time

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Iphoneography: bright eyes

Iphoneography: bright eyes

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IPhoneography: Generations

IPhoneography: Generations

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iPhoneography: Authority Zero

iPhoneography: Authority Zero

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Iphoneography: Manchester Orch II

Iphoneography: Manchester Orch II

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