Falling for Fall Portraits!
Fall is here and with it brings the hunt for the perfect family portraits. In the midst of COVID precautions, it's become the ideal season for being outdoors for sessions. Fall has the ideal mix of beautiful landscapes (bonus: without summer's heat and humidity here in the mid-Atlantic) to bring together an optimal time for photos. We enjoy the few weeks in the fall where the leaves are all turning vibrant colors,. Portraits of you, your family, your significant other, or your pets can all be done this season to put on holiday cards or to frame in your house.
Recently, our summer intern, Harrison, interviewed Trish with some of the most frequently asked questions for portrait sessions:
Q: How do you choose locations and time of day?
A: I prefer to choose locations that mean something to the clients that I’m photographing—a place that ties them to where they live or work. I tend to choose outdoor locations based on seasons. In the fall, I have local park areas that create this incredible cascade of fall leaves that are my signature for fall portraits. In the spring, there are a few places with cherry blossoms that I use for spring portraits unique to northern Virginia.
Harrison: This area has a lot to offer in terms of unique and/or beautiful backgrounds that can provide the perfect place for a portrait. The season depends on location and now, since parks are extremely crowded during the pandemic, the time of day is important to get to places at their least busy hours.
Q: Do you allow pets to be in the photos?
A: Yes! We love pets—for their spontaneity and what they bring to a portrait session.
Harrison: Pets will always bring a level of cuteness to every shot and they are a prominent and dear member of many families and couples.
Q: What are the best poses for the family?
A: The closer that family members can be to each other the better. We put the central subject(s) (whether it’s the parents, grandparents, or children, etc.) in the center and arrange other members around them.
Harrison: The close proximity of the family members definitely exhibits the love for one another. As my mom always used to say, “Come close, act like you love each other.” But in general, Trish wants people to stand as they do naturally, whether that be folded arms, hands on hips, or anything else. Sometimes there will also be leaning poses and it’s important that these feel natural and comfortable because it makes the smiles more genuine.
Q: How do you get the family to look the most natural in portraits?
A: I have a book of “dad jokes”—seriously—to help break the ice if I don’t know the family. If I know them, we usually catch up on what we’ve been up to recently having an “everyday” conversation. To show what I need a family to do in portraits, I’ll play a game of “Simon Says” so that each person can mimic or mirror how I’m posing. It makes it fun even when it’s unfamiliar for them.
Harrison: These kinds of jokes and light-hearted conversations must make the experience far more casual so they feel relaxed and don’t get tired or distracted as easily during the photoshoots. The natural poses really make you feel like the smile isn’t super forced.
Q: What kind of outfits are best for fall shoots?
A: Clothing and accessories in muted and neutral colors are my recommendations so the client stands out amidst the burst of color of fall leaves that I tend to photograph in the fall. We have a stylist that can assist with final outfit selections as well.
Harrison: So the dull color is brought forth despite the vibrant colors all around? And does this mean that clients should wear the same colors or should each family/group member wear slightly different shades?
Q: How many clients do you usually get around this time of year?
A: For portrait sessions, this is my busiest time of year. In previous seasons, I’ve taken over 100 portraits between October through December.
Harrison: Wow. That’s a lot of shoots and thousands of images to go through. Schedules and workload overall must be packed for you. I guess lots of people want their portraits done for their cards before the holidays.
Q: Do clients ever use props or other creative things to put in their pictures?
A: Yes—and they are highly encouraged if an item means something to them or represents their brand (for branding sessions).
Harrison: Props can definitely be used for humor purposes or to make the photo fit in with the backdrop better if there’s some sort of scene going on.
Q: What has been some of your best work with family portraits?
A: When we lived in Germany, there were so many incredible vistas and historic buildings to use as a backdrop for portraits. It was inspiring for both myself and the families that I photographed—and it showed in every photograph.
Harrison: I can imagine all the great locations that Germany has to offer. Holiday cards from over there must outdo most people’s here.
Q: How do you get young children to behave for photos?
A: I don’t. I incorporate their natural reactions in the photos and actually work with the parents to get comfortable with more candid portraits to get the best results.
Harrison: Natural poses definitely allow children to not feel forced and therefore they won’t throw a fit about having to take lots of photos. I know I never liked doing fake poses for thirty minutes waiting for the perfect shot but something normal would give more freedom.
Q: What equipment do you use?
A: I have at least one Canon full-frame camera and a backup in the bag, an 85mm lens and 24-105mm lens, and a flash to use on-camera or off-camera if needed.
Q: How long does it take to edit and send back the photos?
A: Portraits require the most editing in my workflow. To include retouching, it takes us about a week to cull through the photos, edit and retouch as required for the final selections.
Harrison: Wow, that’s a lengthy process. I guess portraits require more background editing as well since there can be distractions or photobombs and the like.
(Additional note from Harrison:When I assisted in a family portrait, I noticed a couple things Trish did. She was constantly engaging with the family and made sure everyone was in a comfortable position. For every location she adjusted the ISO on her camera due to changes in lighting and shifted the subjects over to make sure the setting sun was falling perfectly on their faces. We checked out each photo spot prior to the portrait session to find out exactly where she wanted the family to be positioned. This preparation helped make the whole process far faster.)
There are a lot of aspects to a good portrait. Location, lighting, outfits, and poses all play into creating the right shot. We can be your professional photographer that makes this process simple because we help plan out exactly what you need to build that perfect shot. To plan your portrait session, contact us today.
Keywords: 2020, DMV, fall, family, lake accotink, northern virginia, NOVA, photography, photography by trish alegre-smith, portrait photography, portraits, springfield, virginia
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