Paul Contino | Photographs
Newsletter Issue No. 4
Multiple exposure image of the moon at just about peak penumbral coverage from last Thursday evening’s partial lunar eclipse
As the holidays are just around the corner, family photos for greeting cards are a priority. I’ve got a couple of recommendations in order to help you take those photos yourself!
I want to take better (family) portraits
Recently I held a one-on-one virtual lesson with a friend of mine, mother to three lovely children. Recently she took her newborn to a department store to have photos taken professionally. Unfortunately, they did not come out well, and decided maybe best to take photos herself. We discussed about her considering two situations in bringing out the most in childhood images:
Situation #1: Portraiture
We’ll consider portraiture as a photograph of a single family member, either as a close-up or in context with a scene that represents her or him (though, portraiture can extend to groups of people). Consider the lighting on the subject, the background, the mood of the scene. Make sure to focus on the eyes when taking the photograph. Since you know your child or family member best you’ll have an advantage of the intimacy in capturing moments that you know are uniquely his or hers.
Situation #2: Activity/Context
Take into account whatever activity your kids/family will be involved in and predict ahead of time what images or scenarios you would like to capture. Think about context and atmosphere and background in addition to the subject. There will probably be more movement and you will include more of a scene beyond just the individual to help tell the story/memory.
Something you probably noticed about the two above images, as well as those photographs in the galleries (if you clicked on them), is that the majority of the photos are not “super high resolution” as much of todays phones and cameras produce. When it comes to memories of your family, it’s most important to capture those special moments as they happen, regardless of how “high tech” your camera or phone may be.
Suggestions for a Camera Purchase
My recommendation to those starting out photographing family and portraits of children looking to purchase a camera are:
(1) a camera with an included zoom lens - normally referred to as a “kit lens” as the camera and lens are packaged together as a “kit”. Helpful as an all-around lens for wide and tight shots.
(2) a 50mm lens with an aperture of f/1.8 or similar. A 50mm lens will create pleasing portraits with shallow depth of field (which makes those blurry backgrounds) and will make you a better photographer in general!
Keep in mind lots of camera deals occur the weekend and even through a couple of weeks just after Thanksgiving!
Nick Gresh, a friend and photographer from my old stomping grounds, sent in a couple of autumnal images of the Wissahickon Creek from the Valley Green section of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. The creek meanders alongside an historic tree-lined gravel path, eventually connecting with the Schuylkill River (pronounced Skoo-Kill). View more of Nick’s work here: @nicholasgresh
Enjoy those moments with family
Well that’s a blast from the past …That’s me at bottom right - gotta love the 80s!
Interested in figuring out which camera best suits what you are looking for, or some extra help in taking better portraits? Let’s set up a virtual lesson and I’ll get you going. Let me know what your goal is and we can get you all set up!
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