A happy family photo doesn’t have to have everyone posed against a boring backdrop
This photo of a happy family speaks to the viewer right away: it just feels so natural that you know no one could have posed it. And no one did! Vik Orenstein shared her secrets for capturing perfect moments in her recent interview.
Let the Dice — or Kids — Fall as They May
Vik Orenstein: The kids all came in. We were doing some really bright, high key shots of them with their sporting equipment. This is another example of mixing the sports things. One of the girls was a swimmer, the boy was in baseball, and the other girl was in soccer so she’s holding her soccer ball. (click the image for a larger version)
What happened was the middle girl laid down on the fainting couch that we have in the studio for the parents to sit on while we’re doing the shoot. She said, “Oh,” after I had turned off the lights and everything. We were all done. She said, “Take my picture over here.”
Then the siblings didn’t want to let her get away with a picture by herself so they jumped on her. I quickly spun the fill light around, turned it back on, and shot them over there in their people pile. That was a total grab shot because we thought we were done.
They completely posed themselves, if you want to call it posing. They fell into that composition all by themselves which turned out to be great. It’s the mom’s favorite from the whole take, and mine as well.
Audri Lanford: This is one of those examples where they organize it for you without you having to do anything.
Vik Orenstein: Exactly. You just have to go with the flow. It’s sort of like painting with watercolors. When you paint with watercolors, you have to let the medium guide you.
You don’t control the medium because you have to have the bleed and the swooshes and everything.
You can’t just force the watercolors to go where they need to go. That’s the same way with photographing portraits. You want to let the subject flow. You’re just along for the ride in a certain sense.
Audri Lanford: I know that you do a lot of black and whites, including this one. Do you just want to say a word about that?
Vik Orenstein: I love black and white images. This is actually a really warm toned black and white. It’s a tri tone. I created a black and white image and then I went into color balance and just kind of whanged things around. I wish I had a formula to tell you that I used for warm tone and tri tones but I don’t. Every one turns out a little bit different.
The reason why I did that for this particular image was that as much as I loved the bright on the clothes and the soccer ball and everything like that, the fainting couch was a really, really gross, yucky booger green.
Instead going in and trying to brighten up the fainting couch which then would have competed with the subjects and it wasn’t a pretty color so it wasn’t a good complimentary or contrasting color. I just went and made it black and white.
This sparkling photo of a happy family shows what can happen when you’re ready to shoot the strangest moments at the most unusual times.