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Old 8th of August 2003 (Fri)   #1
khenn
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Default First outdoor family photo shoot

All,

I need some help here and quickly. Friends of ours would like to have family portraits taken at the end of August. They have a professional photographer currently booked, but he wants to charge them $585 for 3 - 8x10s, 2 - 5x7s, 12 - 4x5s and 96 wallets. I about fell off my chair! I told them that I would be willing to take their pictures for them. They live about 1 hour and 45 minutes away from us. My question is what time of day would best be suited for taking outdoor family protraits with 3 people and 1 dog? Also, do I need any additional equipment. I currently have a all Canon equipment including 10D, 550EX, 50mm 1.8, 35-80mm 4.0/5.6, and 75-300mm 4.0/5.6. I am planning on getting a flash bracket, canon off-shoe cord 2 and a sto-fen omni-bounce in the near future, as I have a wedding to do in October.

I may also take a few indoor portraits. What kind of makeshift studio could I create with what I have. What could I use for a backdrop with the intention of using digital backdrops. I don't have a chroma key and probably can't afford one between now and then. I don't have any studio lighting and can't afford it right now either, but do you have any suggestions.

Thanks
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Old 8th of August 2003 (Fri)   #2
TKHerman
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Default Re: First outdoor family photo shoot

I own a software development company by day and am a photographer by night. I just started taking portraits of people for $$ within the last few months and the last several shoots have been outdoors (I live in Indiana).

Lately, I've found the best time to shoot is around 5 or 5:30 PM. In my outdoor work I use my Canon D30, either a 70-200 2.8 or a 24-70 2.8 (Sigma) lens and maybe a diffuser/reflector if the situation requires. While I have two 550's and the ST-E2 unit I haven't used them in my outdoor work (yet). I have been very pleased (as have my clients) with the results. (You check out the proofs on my web site at http://www.level3photography.com -- forgive the lack of content on the site, it's on my to-do list. )

I'd say with the equipment you have you'd be more than set for your outdoor shoot...

When doing my indoor work I have a small studio set up in my basement -- it consists of a backdrop stand with a homemade backdrop (made from bed sheets bought at Walmart), 2 550ex's with the ST-E2 wireless transmitter, 1 Alien Bee light w/ softbox (used as the main light), and a few other odds and ends. Don't get me wrong -- I'd have more equipment, a more up-to-date camera and lots of other goodies if my wife hadn't put me on a photography moratorium...

Good luck with your shoot!

PS - I'd be very interested in learning what you're charging for the shoot. Right now I'm just charging $15/sheet (printed using either my Epson 1270 or 2200) and not charging a sitting fee. I wonder if I should charge more or have a sitting fee but since it's not my "day" job I'm happy with just paying for my (sometimes expensive) hobby.
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Old 8th of August 2003 (Fri)   #3
khenn
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Default Re: First outdoor family photo shoot

Oh, and by the way, I am not trying to offend any professional photographers in the audience. I am only trying to learn more to become a better photographer myself. So please don't shoot me for the comments I made about the price for the "professional." I may not have the diverse experience that some of you professionals have, but we all had to start somewhere. I have shot two weddings in two years (yes, I know that is not a lot), one film and one digital and I have received many compliments on both. I fact, the wedding that I have scheduled in October is a direct result of my first film wedding two years ago. Anyway, my appologies if you are a professional and I offended you.
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Old 9th of August 2003 (Sat)   #4
cubfan
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Default Re: First outdoor family photo shoot

I don't think time of day is that important. I look for a place with some nice green foliage in the background. Evergreen trees make a nice background. The key thing you are looking for is open shade....don't do it with direct harsh sunlight. Use your 550 flash and set your camera to f8 and 60th of a second on manual. I use a stroboframe bracket which is about $50 and an off camera shoe made by canon (can't remember model number). Take a shot and evaluate it for exposure. You can increase or decrease the exposure with the exposure compensation on the flash up to + or - 3 stops. If the background doesn't showup very well, go to 30th of a second but then I would put my camera on a tripod. You can get by with one light for this shot. I just shot an engagement picture of a couple and they were more than pleased. I'd love to post these but don't have the technology skills to do so. I took about 100 pictures on fine jpeg and took them to my house and viewed them on my widescreen tv and they picked out shots for enlargements. It was a time consuming process however and I only charged $50 for the session which ended up being 3 hours. I gave them 15 4x5's and I did get over a $200 order from them. I would charge 75-100 dollars to do the same thing again. I used a 28-135usm( is ) and a 50 mm f1.4 lens. I did a few available light shots too with the 50 mm. I shoot most groups at f8 to make sure that I have adequate depth of field. The key is to stay in the shade and fill the shadows with flash...don't worry about flash ratios or using more than one flash. You need to learn to ride a bike first before you can try doing tricks. Good luck. I do about $50,000 worth of photo business in my spare time and really love it. I'm a full time high school teacher.
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Old 9th of August 2003 (Sat)   #5
cubfan
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Default Re: First outdoor family photo shoot

I might add to my last post......I shoot at ASA 400 on my 10D in fine jpeg. I could shoot raw but I get 16x20's at this setting and it takes less time to process and doesn't fill my cards so quickly. My lab requires that I use jpegs when sending them in online.
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Old 9th of August 2003 (Sat)   #6
billfranklin
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Default Re: First outdoor family photo shoot

Please don't misunderstand me or think I am putting you down, because we all had to start somewhere, but don't think that your pictures will be equal to the professionals. It really takes a while to learn how to control and use outdoor lighting.

That being said, if you do this shoot, try to do it from about 1 hr. before sunset to a few minutes after sunset. The absolute best lighting for outdoors is just after sunset, and you only have a few minutes. When I used film, I always used 400 or 800 speed.

For locations, try to find a spot with a simple, uncluttered background. It is best if you can find a location that has some type of structure on one side to block the light from that side, thereby forcing in light from the other side. This will give a direction of light, so your pictures will not be flat. Creating good directional light outdoors is usually what separates amatures from professionals.

As far as the lens to use, I would use anything from 100 to 300 with a wide aperture. This should keep the background out of foucs.

Finally, get in some practice before you do this shoot. Get some idea of your exposure and posing before you do the actual shoot.

You might also check out zuga.net for some good tips from leading professionals.

Good luck.

Bill F.
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Old 9th of August 2003 (Sat)   #7
cubfan
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Default Re: First outdoor family photo shoot

billfranklin,

I respect everyones opinion on the forum and agree with most of what you say but using a 100-300 mm lens is asking for trouble at sunset. You are getting a slow shutter speed (possibly) and if you shoot wide open you may have the people in front in focus and back row out of focus. If you use a flash with long lenses, they have a tendency to produce the red eye even if the flash is a foot above the camera. I quit using any lens over 135 mm at wedding receptions because of red eye. Group pictures, in my opinion should always be at F5.6 or smaller and at 1/30 second or faster shutter speed with a 35 to possibly an 80 mm lens. I don't say this to be a know it all but I say this from over 30 years as a part time professional and I've made every mistake you can make but hopefully have learned from them.

If you are doing a family picture for the first time, flat lighting is ok. In fact, most people don't know the difference on group shots. I would shoot with a couple of hour of light left in the evening so you don't have to hurry. You might take some of your family members out a day ahead of time and practice at the same location and time of the day so that you don't have to fumble with settings at the actual shoot.
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Old 9th of August 2003 (Sat)   #8
billfranklin
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Default Re: First outdoor family photo shoot

cubfan,

No real disagreement with you, but khenn said these people had a contract with a professional photographer, and probably had seen his professional work. If they expect this same quality from khenn, they may be a little disappointed.

As to the long lens, he said there were three people. For a group that size, I would try and have all faces on the same plane and in focus. Depending on the location, I still want that background out of focus. Also, I usually don't use flash outdoors. If I do, it is going to be large softbox, and it will be just a touch of light to either add a direction or else to fill shadow. Really prefer a large reflector.

For weddings, unless I am doing formal portraits, my favorite lens is a 20 - 35 with flash on bracket well above camera lens. Camera settings would be 1/30 or slower at F8. Never get red eye. Of course this is at the reception. For the formal group shots, 1/15 or 1/30 at f8, or if enough light, f11. Yes, I do want all those people in focus, front to back.

Bill F
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Old 9th of August 2003 (Sat)   #9
billfranklin
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Default Re: First outdoor family photo shoot

You might want to check out this web site. Many years ago, more than I will admit, Monte was my teacher.
http://www.zuga.net/article_106.shtml

Bill F.
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Old 9th of August 2003 (Sat)   #10
cubfan
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Default Re: First outdoor family photo shoot

I use flash outdoors but if the flash is used correctly, it doesn't look like a flash . For couples, I do some available light with reflectors too but not with groups. The 550ex can make a pretty good group shot if the balance is right. The simplest method is to put the camera on program and the balance between flash and ambient should be pretty good.
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