“You must take a lot of photos of your family?”

No.

Not really.

I get asked this a lot, if I take a lot of pictures of my family.  Truth be known, that’s mostly Sarah’s job–and she does a great job of it.

You see, when I take it upon myself to shoot photos it’s a major production.  I’m pulling out lights, remotes, backdrops, tripods, etc.  Take for example this recent family photo I made in our back yard.  We have a tree that blossoms something beautiful each spring, and it’s hard to resist breaking out the camera(s).  This year we decided to have an impromptu family portrait under the tree.

When that is Sarah’s job, it consists of grabbing the point-and-shoot camera (I have longer arms, so I might shoot it), all of us getting close, extending my arm and firing one, two or maybe even three quick pics.

But this time around we wanted something a little more formal.

So, to make this photo I pulled out the following

  • 1 camera
  • 1 lens
  • 2 light stands
  • 2 studio lights
  • 2 heavy 12-volt batter, inverter bags
  • 1 tripod
  • 1 softbox
  • 1 umbrella
  • 4 pocket wizard radio remotes (I really needed 5–1 in my hand to transmit to trip the shutter, 1 on the camera to receive that signal, 1 more on the camera to transmit to the flashes and 1 on each flash to receive the signal from the camera–but I only have 4)
  • 1 cable release
  • extension cords from my home theater system (this was a fix for the lack of a 5th radio remote)
  • 2 vice grips and 1 C-clamp (the wind was blowing my softbox in every direction, so this is what I used in my feeble attempt to cull the forces of nature)

Then you have light tests, wardrobe change (need to be coordinated, you know!), fights with the wind, a 9-month old who you can’t explain to them to look at the unmanned camera, a 3-year-old who doesn’t want to sit still, a photographer who is trying to pose everybody while in the same photo.

By the time everything is packed back up, the process takes about an hour.

Then afterward–because I do take so many photos over the course of the year–when I ingest them into my computer, I need to keyword them, create a proper folder structure, try to find the best shot from over 100 frames, try to find the best shot of Carson that I can swap his head out, do all the Photoshop, make it available somehow to my wife, blog about it, yadda yadda yadda.

Here’s the entire take:

Simple family portrait from Lane Hickenbottom on Vimeo.

We had a good time, but it took a lot of effort.

To anybody interested in seeing more photos of the family, you should really check out the Charmed Life blog that Sarah maintains.

Thanks for reading!

-Lane

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8 thoughts on ““You must take a lot of photos of your family?””

  1. lol Lane! I go to great lengths to get shots of the kids and have vowed this year to just do simple snapshots (though I can’t bring myself to buy a p&s for it, still use my fave)… have not once tried to do a family shoot with me in there- that would be interesting! thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Oh yes! Don’t get me started with Christmas cards. This year’s was actually pretty easy. But each year we do something a little wacky for our Christmas card and each year it is a lesson in patience.

    I did a big family photo that included myself (so I wasn’t behind the camera) as well as my 3-year-old son and his 2-year old cousin over Christmas this past year. I used a couple bath toys that I had them look at while I held them while positioned in the group. Then I threw the toy towards the camera so they would be smiling and looking it about the right direction. Probably would work with dogs, too. That is if you can keep them from running after the toy!

  3. This describes my last attempt at a family photo down to about the last detail – only in my case the 3-year-old kid would be changed out with a 3-year-old beagle. And I was too burned out from the experience to make a video out of it.

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