Shooting Composites is something I love to do at Made Portraits and today I wanted to do a little behind the scenes post of how I approach shooting composites to produce the more creative family photos I’m now known for. These images have certainly contributed to the studios success in terms of winning awards over the last couple of years and will hopefully continue to do so.
First of all it’s the idea. When a client walks in and they have props with them, I will always spend time looking at what they have and my brain sets off in to a random little place. My aim is always to create something that is unique to them and tells their story. Once I have an idea, I then clearly get the finished image in my mind and then break it all down in to the different components. This allows me to plan out each and every little part I need to ensure the end result looks real.
The next step is setting up the camera and any consistent items that will feature. The camera will always be on my tripod to ensure it stays in its one spot for each image. The focal length, exposure and focus will remain the same throughout all shots and the lights will do the same.
So for example with this image, my daughter is a huge fan of the pirate themed TV programme Swashbuckle on CBeebies (in fact she’s watching it as I write this post) and I liked the idea of having a family picture that subtly acknowledged that. I asked her if she would like to walk the plank or make me walk the plank and she settled on the latter. I then had to give her a-weapon of choice to force me along the plank so the wooden slingshot was introduced. I thought having my wife on the other side of the sofa introduced a girl vs. boys element.
It doesn’t matter how good you are at Photoshop when creating these types of shots. If the photography isn’t right when you start then the end result won’t look real. You need to be shooting composites with a clear end result so when you start bringing it all together, you have all the pieces of the puzzle and they fit perfectly. This is why you can see all the large parts like me on the plank; my daughter with her foot up; my wife sat on the other end of the sofa but then my wife is holding the plank so I can get the underside of the wood. It’s a tiny detail but certainly adds to the finished portrait along with all the other bits that bring consistency.
I love creating family portraits that people are confused as to how they were achieved and hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little about how one of my shots were done.
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