Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Portrait Day Wednesday: A Good Looking Group

Good Afternoon Everybody,
Once again, we had a great crowd in Baton Rouge last night. That's LaDawn and I passing out over $4000 worth of door prizes to our crowd of over 165 attendees last night - always a fun time. Congratulations to the lucky winners.

Several friends showed up to help set up and also just to visit. Heck, I think LaDawn and I knew more photogs at this stop than at any other. Trent, Frank, Bonita,and Larry - all Ziser Master Class came by to help set up and my buddy Ralph Romaguera came by with his son, Ryan, and son-in-law, Rock. By the way, Ralph and the family run one of the top senior studios in the country. Check out his site right here. It's always wonderful to see friends and familiar faces especially last night as we again made a few new friends along the journey.

Hey gang, how about a Quick Hit Family Portrait Tip Today -
Today I want to briefly discuss how I bring family groups together. You know obviously that everyone wants to look their best in the family photograph. Let's briefly review the arrangement of the group.

Hit the "Read More..." link below for the rest of the story.

Look at the family groups of this promo piece we send out to our perspective clients. You find similar placement of the family members in 3 out of the five images, except the one of the three ladies on the right hand side and the the 6 men on the left of the promo piece. Can you see the circular rhythm in the composition of the groups. Your eye gets to enjoy all the faces of the groups as a family without settling on any one person.

Basically, what I'm trying to do is to create a "Tri-Angle" or "Circular" composition with the faces of the family members in the group. When having people at different levels in the group, never have heads at the same level or lined up with each other. All three family images illustrate this perfectly. If you do, the viewers "eye" will get "caught" on that level in the composition and hover there longer than usual - something we don't to happen as one views the image.

I also try to encourage a little "touching" going on between the members of the group as the dad on the right with his hand on his son's shoulder or with the other dad with his hand on his wife's shoulder. This connection helps as the "eye" enjoys the group. The connect offers a bridge from one member to another and brings a closer sense of intimacy to the group as a whole.

Notice too how the hands of each family member are arranged different from one person to another. This brings a bit of individuality to each separate member of the group. It sure beats everybody sitting there with their hands in their laps. The exception is the group of gentlemen that requested this particular, all very similar, look in their photograph.

One last thing, notice that I make the mom the center of attention by placing her in or near the center of the group. Dad most often has the tallest position in the group too. You know, that "patriarchal" position - hey, call me "old fashioned". The oldest sibling has the next highest position in the group and so on.

Folks, these are not hard and fast rules, but they do give me a starting point when bringing my family groups together. Sure we mix things up once we have the classical group image, but these suggestions in today's post will give you a good start too the next time you head out to photograph a family portrait. Happy Shooting!

Hey gang, that's it for me today. We luckily have the day off in Baton Rouge and are planning to see some sites. We head to Houston early tomorrow morning and are looking to seeing several DigitalProTalk readers there. Come on by and say HI.

See everybody tomorrow. Adios, -David


  1. Just wanted to stop by and thank you for an awesome workshop last night! I came in from Morgan City and could only stay for the first 2 hours, but I learned a TON just in those 2 hours! I wish I could have stayed until the end, but thank you anyway, you are a wonderful teacher and speaker!

    Jamie Heyl

  2. Can you please post a bigger family portrait image. That will help your reader see your picture easier.

    Thenhan, Dallas, TX

  3. cfranco2@bellsouth.net6:39 PM, May 28, 2009

    Cliff Francois - What a great gift you have and oh how you share it with others. The words just pour from your brain to your mouth and out to us in the audience. When I first heard about your tour early this year I read some of you blog and was impressed and immediately enrolled Jeanie and me. I thought the presentation would be good, but I was mistaken. It far and away exceeded my wildest expectation. Thank you, thank you and your entire staff for all the effort you all put into this tour. Have a safe journey the reat of the tour.

  4. I'm glad to see that things went well in Baton Rouge, but I really wish you had come to New Orleans. Driving from Baton Rouge after 10 pm on a weeknight is what kept me from signing up.

    Maybe next time?

  5. I was looking for the post on "Lighting The Portrait". that was mentioned on the post of 5/20/09 Has it been posted yet?

    Thanks and Can't wait to see you in Baltimore