Park Portrait Strategies
The heat is still with us here in New York City, and families are crowding into the parks to soak up the last rays of summer. If you have scheduled a family portrait in a local park and find yourself surrounded by other like-minded families, how do you take a good photo and make it seem like you have the place all to yourself? In today’s blog, I show you a Hudson River Park family portrait and give you some strategies so you can take the best photos of your family.
Rob and Sara live a few streets over from Pier 45 and Hudson River Park. The park is a beautiful green space on the waterfront, and many families come here to enjoy the tranquility right in the middle of Manhattan. Hudson River Park is special to Rob and Sara because this is the park where Sara always takes little Sadelle on a daily walk. When I did my venue check a week prior to our shoot, I couldn’t help but notice that the crowds for this park were intense, and unlike at Central Park or some of the larger parks in the city, there is nowhere to hide. So what’s a family portrait photographer to do?
The key to having the crowds dissipate from view is to have an uncluttered background. In the case of Rob and Sarah‘s family portrait, that meant using the waterfront itself, the railings, and the pathways along the water. If you don’t have a waterfront view, then a row of bushes or trees will work just as well. The bottom line is that you don’t want to have anyone behind your family to distract the viewers from your portrait.
In cases where other people cannot be avoided, such as what you see in these photos, a shallow depth of field comes in handy. Shallow depth of field means that the camera is focused only on the foreground and puts the background out of focus. This would be an aperture on your camera lens of f/2.8 to f/4. If your aperture goes much above this, then everything the background will be in focus as well. furthermore, if you want to get the best of fax from a blurry background, then you need to put more distance between your subject and the background. In the case of these photos, Robb and his family are several feet away from what’s going on in the patio space behind them. That distance puts the background further out of focus, and it is less distracting to the viewer.
Framing also helps immensely to direct the eye of the viewer. Shooting through a doorway, window, tree limb, or dad’s arms literally cuts off the crowd from view and concentrates the viewer’s gaze on the subject.
Finally, sometimes you just have to embrace the fact that you’re in the middle of New York City. I like shots that play with scale, and have a where’s Waldo affect so that the viewer is looking for the family in the crowd. Have fun with your family portraits and mix up your shots. Creativity trumps blandly staring into the lens any day.
And, a word of warning that fall is right around the corner. If you are thinking about scheduling a Hudson River Park family portrait for your holiday card, drop me a line. I would love to work with you.
If you would like to see more images from my family photojournalism portfolio, then please visit my website — www.KellyWilliamsPhotographer.com