Last week, together with my friend and regular assistant Katherine, I spent another fun day at Keystone Adventure School and Farm creating group and individual portraits of all of the students and staff. When we did Keystone’s Spring 2011 School Portraits, I followed up with tips on how to shoot a large group, my planning process and lessons learned. This time around, I took my own advice, and made the following changes:
- I positioned the camera much closer to the group.
- I stood on a step stool, angling the lens slightly downward towards the group to open eyes and raise chins.
- I used my 24-70mm instead of the 14-24mm. The wider lens caused too much distortion last time.
- I added a couple of things for people to sit on, to create more levels. I also had some kids sit on the retaining wall (see below).
- I taped off the space to provide an easy visual for people to know where to stand.
- I worked in full shade to avoid a spotty foreground.
- I cleaned the area well prior to the shot, including washing the window, moving the rug, hanging boots, moving distractions, etc.
For the individual portraits, I scouted for a spot that had “fall” ambiance. In other words…leaves! I found a spot that:
- Faced northwest, which meant it would be shaded the entire morning and even into the early afternoon. Plenty of time to work.
- Was positioned in front of a new wooden fence, providing a nice backdrop.
- Was under a large tree, which meant piles of leaves were nearby. I raked them into the area for more depth and to cover the cement foundation under the fence.
- Had some reflected light from the scene behind the camera, specifically, bright trees in the direct sun. This created a bit of directional lighting, making the shaded scene less flat.
- Had light peeking through the tree branches above, providing a lovely hair light for the portraits.
I added a feeder that I found in the school’s shed, and here is the resulting scene for the kids’ portraits:
I have to say, the resulting portraits are so, so cute! There was lots of leaf throwing and jumping, and Katherine and I were both a little exhausted at the end of the day! Thank you, Kat, for your amazing work, and patience! And thank you to all of the students and teachers for the opportunity, and for putting up with the freezing temperatures! Hopefully the Spring 2012 portraits will be a bit warmer.