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Family Sessions: Shooting on the Same Plane

Here are some tips to remember when shooting on the same plane:

  • Keep people close together.  As I am getting a family together, I tell them that we are going to put them in the right spot first, then we are going to connect them.  What I mean by that is we are going to have them physically looping together.  This gives a feeling of love between family members, helps create a feeling of closeness and we don't have to worry about empty spaces between heads.
  • I don't tell a family that we are setting them up to all be on the same plane.  They don't need to know that nor do I want to sit there and explain that to them.  They trust me to know what I am doing and why I am doing it.  Ahead of time, know how many people you will be photographing and a few different poses you can put them in, that way you can feel confident with what you are asking them to do and they will follow your lead.  
  • Always check your settings and the back of your camera.  Make sure your photos are in focus and sharp before you move on into the session.  The last thing you want to do is come home to find out most of your images were out of focus because you shot a family at 2.8.  They won't be out of focus for shooting at 2.8.  They'll be out of focus because you didn't have them all on the same plane.  
  • When setting your focus, lock focus on where people are touching in the middle.  Not the eyes of a person in the middle.  Yes, you read that right, NOT the eyes of a person in the middle.  It can be where a shoulder meets a chest.  That's perfect, as long as it's the middle of the picture.  
  • Practice doing this with a family or a group of friends before doing this with a paid client.  I promise you it isn't hard.  Just imaging that if you are looking at this group from the side, all of their faces would be evenly lined up and their noses would all be able to touch a window without moving.  

Enjoy the video from Amy's last session here: Understanding Depth of Field on A Live Shoot

   Amy Phipps is the photographer behind On the Phippside Photography, located in Stockton, California.  Amy has been married for 21 years and has 4 children.  When she’s not trying to decide between which of her 43 black shirts to wear, you can probably find her sipping on a Dr. Pepper and walking around any day of the year in flip flops. Visit her website.


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