Up to the Edge

I love using the natural surroundings of a setting to frame a scene. Sometimes the trees, grass, and sky can form beautiful, natural borders that work even better than a picture frame. Sometimes I take the liberty to digitally enhance these borders by adding in a subtle darkness around the scope of the photo. The frame brings focus to the picture and draws in the viewer.

Subtle Elegance

When a family coordinates their outfits to be all one color, it can easily become a little cheesy, but for this photo-shoot it worked out great. Everyone dressed in dark clothing and it set a wonderful mood throughout the shoot. Set against a muted background, the family stood out really elegantly. A real harmony runs throughout each image because of all the synchronizing colors and subtle shifts in lighting.

That Time of Day

In photography, the first and last hours of sunlight during the day are known as the “magic” hours, or sometimes the “golden” hours. They’re when the sun is right about to set, or just starting to rise, depending on the time of day. They’re incredible because the lighting is low and completely natural. The only downside to shooting during the magic hours is that it takes place in a very limited window of time. I shot this family right at the start of the magic hour when the scenery all around us started glowing with brilliant reds and oranges. The end result was stunning—gorgeously colored photos, lit naturally.

Building Blocks

Big family photo-shoots are often a process of mixing and matching. With kids and adults from all ages, I always wind up with a wide variety of heights and shapes and sizes to deal with. Arranging a group photo’s composition ends up being a lot like putting together a puzzle. Over the years I’ve spent photographing families, I’ve been able to try out lots of different experiments with placement and produced some great shots.

Sunlit Kids

The biggest challenge of portrait photography with children is, of course, getting them to sit still. While the moms and dads usually want a few formal, sitting shots of their children, I’ve found that when I’m able to really connect with the kids and get them comfortable, some great candid shots can come out of it as well.

I shot this family during those “magic hours” of the day when the natural lighting was perfect. Later, I went through and edited some of the photos to enhance the sunlight, adding a soft, but striking accent.

Alignment with Engagements

Couples usually have their own detailed plans for their engagement photos, so it’s always a blast to collaborate with them with my own ideas. The trick to getting a great photo of a couple is making sure they’re comfortable and really able to relax—as if the pesky photographer wasn’t even there.

Shooting this particular couple on and around an old railway bridge made for some unique photos. I found myself not only having to work with the couple, but also the intricate lines of the bars on the bridge. The linear metal bars can easily lead the viewer’s eyes out of the frame, so I made sure that their focal point always connected with the couple.

Portrait Enhancements

Shine;  10/16/2010; 2:06 PM;  Downtown Idaho Falls, ID; f/5.6; 1/100 sec;  Sony DSLR-A200 Enhancements:  Levels, Curves, Skin Smoothing (brush painting), teeth whitening (desaturation), eye brighten (dodge), edge burning (vignette) I…