I recently posted on Facebook about installing this large 7×4 foot portrait, and included with a few images of me hanging it. I received a bigger response than usual, 260+ likes, 30+ comments, and private messages from people asking how I did it. So I thought it’d make a great blog post.
Here I am hanging the portrait with a couple large Little Giant ladders that still were’t quite tall enough.
And here is the portrait so you can see the details better. This family had grown quite a bit with married kids and lots of cute new grandkids. So when they hired me, they wanted to make sure that they could see everyone’s faces and could enjoy the image from the given viewing distance of the room.
The day of the shoot was cold and rainy but I still wanted to create the image outside. Yes, they have a large home and we could have set up in a room somewhere, or I could have even set up a studio in their gym, but I always emphasize my specialty of lighting and emotion, and I knew I could create something with more drama outside in front of their home. And yes, we could have rescheduled for a pretty, sunny day, but I don’t like to reschedule for lots of reasons.
One, many times like this, it’s the only day when family is all in town. Two, sometimes rescheduling means the portrait is never created. And three, rain makes for really beautiful and saturated colors when custom lighting is handled the right way. Plus after 20+ years of creating photographs full time for clients I know that I can work within the cycles of a rain storm as it goes from a big downpour to a slow drizzle to hard rain again.
The trick is to be all set and shoot quickly when the rain slows down so that I’m done before the next wave of hard rain comes again. And that’s what I did. While the family waited in the warmth inside, I set up my lights and camera and had everything metered and ready to go. I kept everything covered until we had a lull in the storm, and then had everyone come outside and we began working.
Storm or not, I pose and position people quickly and in natural stances, then I play with the kids with a puppet routine that I’ve worked up over the years. I love it when even the tiniest kids, babies really that can’t even talk are laughing at my puppet show because they know it’s funny.
I started with the largest family group, and moved quickly to individual family groups. I only shoot about 3-5 images per family because I don’t want to wear people out, or exhaust the natural smiles of the children. And on this night we had other reasons to hurry as the rain was starting to get heavy again.
Besides the biggest group I was able to get two other families groups shot before the rain hit hard again, so I moved under the awning that can be seen in the earlier groups. Again, I wanted to stay outside so that all of the family groups would have a uniform look, color scheme, feel, and lighting style. I want them all to look good when hung together and not look like different shoots. So working under the awning was perfect because the clients were able to stay dry (even though I was standing in the rain), and we were able to finish the session so that everything matched and looked beautiful.
I love that this little baby is laughing. In the big family group, she was the kid laughing the loudest at my silly puppet routine.
At some point, no matter how fast you work, kids are spent. They only have so much energy for photos, but it’s still fun to try and get a grandkids photo, even if some are crying. We did one under the awning and then went inside to the fireplace and did one big casual group of the entire family.
Here is a view of their finished portrait in their home. The most common concern with families is getting your portrait too big or too small for where it is hanging. You want to be able to see faces and it is hard to imagine sizes when looking at a price menu. That is why I preview your order on a projector so that you can see your exact image at the exact size you’d like it. And if you know you’re getting over a certain size, I’ll come to your home and will help measure walls so that we get it absolutely perfect. And yes, I’ll even come hang it for you too.
Summer is ending and this is a great time to photograph your family. It’s always hard because schedules are crazy, and right now kids are going back to school. But winter is even harder and right now it’s still warm and pretty outside. Give me a call at 801-728-3317 and let’s create something amazing for you.
Until next time, America.