Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Family of Over 90 People in July!

What do I do when it is 115 degrees outside and I have only one chance to get a family of over 90 people together for an epic family portrait?

The answer is a studio shoot on a green screen but my studio will only hold about 30 people at a time.  I decided to photograph them in three separate groups with posed edges that would fit together into one big..BIG…group.  I have never done anything like this before and I was not sure exactly how it would work but in theory it was all good so I went for it.

6:00 pm came and people began poring in. Suburbans, Vans and various Suv’s.  There were so many people and scores of little kids and babies.  The noise level was through the roof and I began to wonder what I had been thinking. 

Gradually I began sorting out the groups and bringing them into the camera room.  Fortunately they all came color coded by family. The first group was the center section and I posed edges that could be added on to.  The second group was the left and then the third group was the right side. I was asked not to line everyone up but to make the group a little more random.  Nice Challenge!

The shoot took two hours.  I cranked up my most animated self.  We played Simon says and yelled out loud and made funny faces and whispered and sang goofy songs… In the end I won the little kids over but I’m sure the adults thought I had lost it. The last group had the oldest kids so things began to calm down.

After about 5 hours of image revue and choosing the best expressions of every person from over 400 images, I formed 3 composite groups with everyone looking fabulous.  With the families approval, I took the whole project to my amazing retoucher and said…”SURPRISE!”   She put all the faces together, retouched everyone and then gave me back the images for the green screen drops.

I sent her back the images with transparent backgrounds and she began the process of making it all look realistic.  She extended a photograph I had taken of the water fall at Val Vista Lakes and created more water and more grass. After some perspective control and proportion adjustments, she matched up color, saturation and densities to create the amazing final image you see here. The final Portrait is 6 feet wide.

The great blessing of digital is that I can do anything.  The great curse of digital is that I can do anything.  This project start to finish took a combined time of 23 hours but the results are worth it.  This is a very special portrait of a very special family that will most likely never happen again!

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