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Photo review: Variations on a theme

From: Narrative Portraiture: On Location in New York City

Video: Photo review: Variations on a theme

After I created this photograph, I knew that there is more work to be done. More pictures to be made. One of the little guys, one of the boys, liked working with my camera. So at one point, I handed it to him, and here he is taking a photograph of his family. And he became my sidekick of sorts and we had a lot of fun taking pictures of different things, of his family, sometimes of each other. And one of the things that this did for me is it created a bridge to his family.

Photo review: Variations on a theme

After I created this photograph, I knew that there is more work to be done. More pictures to be made. One of the little guys, one of the boys, liked working with my camera. So at one point, I handed it to him, and here he is taking a photograph of his family. And he became my sidekick of sorts and we had a lot of fun taking pictures of different things, of his family, sometimes of each other. And one of the things that this did for me is it created a bridge to his family.

It helped me to create photographs I couldn't have otherwise captured, because in a sense, he really was a collaborator. He was on my side. It was a connection point. Well, we started to make some pictures and I knew that I need to make something happen. When you're working with a family, you have to provide some direction. You have to bring people together. So I asked the dad and his boys to walk over to the end of the pier with their instruments and play a song. Remember, previously it was just the dad and the two boys.

I needed all three kids in the picture. And I started directing them, play a song, hold your instruments, stand this way, move to this spot. I'm trying to keep it loose and limber. At one point, the little guy ran off and his mom brought him back, and I love those raw family moments like that. Just so much happens with families, and I really like the expression here and just the fun that everyone is having as she is bringing him back. Well, after we took a few photos in that location, I knew that I needed to mix it up.

When you're working with a group, you can't stay in one spot for too long. it gets a little dull. You have to give them some sort of instruction. So I said, okay everyone, go ahead and put back your instruments or put away your instruments, and let's go to this bench here. Well, they stood upon on the bench, and at this point they're individuals. It's not a very good photograph. Each one is standing by themselves. Well, I wanted them to be separate from the other. I had them hold out their arms and make sure there was a gap between each person, but I needed them to be a little bit more united.

So at one point I said, well, look in a different direction. Don't look at me. Kids love instructions like that, because they know they should look towards the camera. If you tell them not to do it, it's kind of fun. And in this picture, I love that everyone else is looking in a different direction, except for the little guy in the middle. And then of course, I say, well, look back to the camera. And here one of the things that I needed to do was to step it up a bit. I needed to be a bit of a catalyst. I wanted to bring out some expressions.

I wanted them to exaggerate, to have some fun. And here you can see they're having a lot of fun and we're just playing. We're building momentum. And what I needed to do was to take advantage of that. I needed to get close, because everyone here at this point is really loose, they're relaxed. So I took a few close-up individual photographs of them, right there on that bench. And my hope is to capture a bit of that exaggerated expression.

And again, it was fun to take pictures of their personality. Well, so far I have these photographs of them out in the pier, but they're pretty separate, one from another. They're fun pictures, but I knew at some point I needed to bring them together. So I wanted to make that happen. So we went back to the bench and I had them hug each other, really get close. And I love these pictures, because it's just like this bundle of family and you can really tell that they are a warm and loving family.

They get along well. And what I like about these pictures is they're not at all standing properly with fake smiles all looking directly at the camera. A lot is happening here. Although I'm directing them, it's still a moment. One of the privileges of photographing groups of people is that when you bring people together, sometimes magic happens. And as a photographer, it's your job, it's your task, it's your goal, to capture it.

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Narrative Portraiture: On Location in New York City

26 video lessons · 9667 viewers

Chris Orwig
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