Home for the Holidays

A few days before Thanksgiving, I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a photographers post. I can't remember word for word what the post read but it was along the lines of... looking forward to Thanksgiving, the time when all of your family members ask you to get out your camera and work for free. I don't know exactly what he/she meant by this post, maybe they have a demanding family, I don't know. But I do know that I always try and bring my camera to family gatherings, it doesn't feel like work to me, in fact I love it. Its an opportunity not only to preserve family moments for a lifetime, but to brush up on my skills, better myself as a photographer, and as a creative challenge. This year, I took a little bit of a different approach, rather than just capturing moments throughout the day, I wanted to capture the people. So I decided to do headshot style portraits of everyone who was there for the holiday, including my dog keavy. 

For all the photographers out there who are reading this, I will go into detail a little bit about how I set up, photographed, and edited the shots. Starting with gear, I used my Nikon D750, with a Nikkor 70-200 F/2.8 lens. I also used a Manfrotto tripod and a Meike battery grip with he included wireless remote. (I love this battery grip, easily worth the $80) I used a Yongnuo YN568EX flash in a Impact Quikbox Softbox (24X24"), trigger by Yongnuo YN622N wireless triggers. This is a very affordable lighting set up, all together, stands included, this set up can be purchased for under $250 and honestly works great for any one light shot. I also had a roughly 2'X3' white piece of dry erase board, which I used as a reflector. 

I placed the quikbox about 3' in front of my subject and just about at head level/slightly above, angled down at the subjects face. I placed the reflector at about chest level, about the 2' in font of the subject angled upward. This served as a fill and lightened the shadows on the subjects face. I positioned my camera slightly off to the side and had each subject lean on a railing and turn slightly towards me. I used the remote on the battery grip to trigger shots as I moved around and conversed with each family member that I was photographing. 

In camera, my settings went as followed, ISO 100-200, F/2.8, with a shutter speed of 1/160-1/200. I set my white balance to auto and shot in raw, making any necessary changes in Lightroom. The sun was setting, so the light behind the subject did change a little, becoming a touch more saturated in some shots, but thats what you get working outside and I didn't mind. I'm not going to get into my post production process to much, but if your interested in retouching, you can find some very helpful tips in this recent post on Fstoppers, by Dani Diamond. While my workflow differs slightly, I use many of these methods for editing portraits. 

If you guys have any questions, feel free to ask away in the comments section or shoot me an email anytime at mwellingtonphoto@hotmail.com. Thanks so much for checking out my work. I would love to hear any feedback you guys have. Happy holidays!

Michael Brown

M.Wellington Photographer, Narragansett, Rhode Island, 02892, United States

Professional fine art, commercial, freelance photographer based out of Narragansett, Rhode Island.