Anatomy of a Family Photo

Crossposted from Eclectic Journey Photography

Hi Friends,

So here’s the question for the day: how many photos does it take to get the ideal Clark-Schecter holiday card picture? Now before you answer remember that this involves my being in front of the camera and not behind it. That added a degree of difficulty of about 200%.

What do you think?

  • 5 shots
  • 50 shots
  • 100 shots
  • 200 shots
  • 417 shots over 3 separate sessions

If you chose any option other than the last choice, well, you must be one of those optimists!

Our first foray was on December 4th. I was going for a sun-going-down, golden hour look. It was unseasonably warm and the kid was cooperating. Honestly after that shoot, I thought I had nailed it then and there. Got some great shots. Rocked the backlighting. Of course when we had started, I had forgotten to tell AdoringHusband to take off his damn Transitions glasses! Those things have plagued me for years. I’ve spent way too long in previous years attempting to restore visible eyes behind those sun-darkened lenses.

But that notwithstanding, I was able to find some goodies. I then posted the ones I was considering for the card on Clickin Moms to get some feedback.

So I’m thinking to myself, these both look pretty good, if I do say so myself. Though I prefer the second one to the first because of Zara’s expression, I think the softness in our features from the backlighting might make it the weaker choice.

And then the feedback started to come in.

Gorgeous shot, but that tree is too distracting,” one commentor said. From another: “I agree with the previous poster. Wish you had positioned yourselves differently.”

And I’m thinking to myself, OMG, there is a tree growing out of our heads. Am I mental? How did I not see that?!

The truth is that I had seen the tree but ended up at a loss about how to position us in relation to that tree. Somehow I thought that if there were three of us, it wouldn’t look as if the tree were growing out of all of our heads. But there is it, up close and personal. The tree IS growing out of our heads!

Other commenters attempted to assure me that those I would send the card to would not be nearly as distracted by the tree as we photogs are. Of course, by that point, I could see nothing in the photo BUT the tree! I decided to reshoot.

Unfortunately Saturday the 10th was nothing like Sunday the 4th. It was about 20 degrees colder and the ground was wet and mucky. The kid was cold and uncooperative and the hubby was surly because she was cold and he felt that I hadn’t dressed her warmly enough. I ended up rushing the shoot despite doing all I could to keep her in the warm car between set-ups. I then made the mistake of asking her to smile showing her teeth. She’d never had any problem with that in the past, but after getting back to my computer and uploading the images, I found that my kid must have decided that she was a beaver! I saw some of the most silly faces she has ever made.

I was so sad that night. What kind of photographer did I hope to be if I couldn’t even get a photo of my own family?! So my dear, supportive husband made me get right back in the saddle. The next day, he insisted in going out and doing it all over again. He’d dress Z in more layers and he would stop breathing down my neck in order to allow me to relax and do my thing. Of course Z ended up in one of her oppositional defiant modes again, but a total of 417 shots later, we had some good photos that didn’t have trees growing out of our heads!

Here are some of the outtakes:

Note the wonderful Transitions lenses in these:

Yes, this still has the tree, but I love this shot!

So which photos made it to the card?


Inside top:

Inside bottom, flanking holiday message:

Back Panel:

Not so bad, despite all that work, right? I’m going to use these to make a canvas wall photo collection for the house.

But I do have to show you guys the beauty of digital editing, though. Now you all know that I’m massively huge these days thanks for my steroids. Even though I’m in a feel good about myself because fat is better than dead place, I still shuddered a bit at how round both Mason and I looked in these images. I opted to use a can-be-used-for-good-or-for-evil editing tool called liquify. Using this PS tool, I managed to give us a bit of a digital diet in some of the photos:

Before is on top and after below. We lost a good 20 pounds with the use of technology! Mason wanted me to go even further, but no. These tools cannot be used to suspend all connection with reality!

So there you have it, my friends. The fun of a family photo shoot when you are both photog and subject!

Hope your holiday was wonderful! Best to you in the new year!

Published by: teendoc on December 25th, 2011 | Filed under family, photography

2 Responses to “Anatomy of a Family Photo”

  1. Rose Martinez-Hill on Facebook Says:

    Thank you for the Christmas card. Beautiful family.

  2. Adrienne Says:

    Beautiful photos! I love the one with the arms in the air and the one with you and your husband crouching with your hand on Zara’s belly. That’s so sweet. Love the photos you chose as well.

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