I was recently tasked to photograph a malay family for a large MNC in the healthcare industry. These pictures will be used in their internal newsletter, circulars and other relevant print/online communication materials as part of ongoing efforts to promote health and disease awareness among the public.
The pictures will depict both natural and posed shots of the family members in a casual family outing, either at the park, or relaxing at their home. They were to be the typical, smiling, happy and laughing shots, which portrayed a positive message of the importance of leading a healthy life, free of sicknesses and diseases. In other words, that sounded very much general, and to some extent, generic enough to be open to various interpretations, as long as it denotes positivity.
It was a great opportunity and I couldn’t be any happier. The brief was pretty straight forward and I was free to mould and extract the expressions I needed. Unfortunately, I was engaged at the very last minute and needed to deliver the shots within a week. The problem was further compounded by precious time spent on finding a suitable malay and indian family for this project (the client needed two families of a different race).
Fortunately, a high school friend took up the call and was more than willing to get together 3 generations of people for this shoot. The 3 generations of people was part of the brief. A late twenties-something parent with their children, along with this parent’s parents (the children’s grandparents). I suppose this was meant to signify longevity in living.
Here are some of the pictures taken at the family’s home. All of these pictures were taken on manual settings with a single off-camera speed light (to balance out a subdued ambient for maximum contrast and saturation), and on some occasions, filled with a silver reflector.
For this shot of a family of four on the grass, I was working in the shade at f/5, a maximum sync speed of 1/200 (to subdue the ambient) and an ISO of 320.
As for this group picture of the family playing in the garden, I dropped the ISO to 250, and further stopped down the aperture to f/8, while maintaining my max sync speed of 1/200. It was already almost in the late morning and you can see them under direct full sun light.
Once I subdued the ambient a little, I popped the flash to camera left to provide my only single source of key/fill light.
To keep the poses and actions as natural as possible, I suggested to the talents to treat it as any other family get-together moment. As easy as it may sound, I told them to ignore me and that I didn’t exist. Otherwise, I maintained a neutral tone of relaying instructions; directing them to either look in a certain angle while playing with their kids, hold a pose while I get into position, or talking to them about their children or what they do for a living.
Finally, some pictures to denote old age undying love and an elderly couple’s devotion to each other. For seniors, it was a little more difficult getting them to be natural. I found that I needed to be more specific in my instructions, else, they would look too stiff, posed and awkward.
The entire shoot was concluded in roughly about two and a half hours. These family-style pictures can’t get any simpler. No planning, no fuss; just go with the flow.
Think “Health Today”-style of images, only minus the yoga mat in the park, drinking milk in the kitchen, grandpa playing with grand kids on the grass and elderly couples pushing a bicycle through a long stretch of dirt road flanked by shady trees. No time. No budget. These will simply cut it.