Life’s Most Treasured Moments; Sharing Family Portraits Page 2

Once I had a family shot of us all I did a few groups, realizing how much these pictures would be appreciated not just now, but certainly in the years to come. After all, my kids had just hours before demonstrated how much they treasured our family pictures up to this point. I put together all kinds of combinations of family groups in the same location, concentrating on spontaneous expressions, rather than looking for a variety of locations. I didn't know how long Katy would last. Thankfully, she was a trooper, staying happy throughout the picture session.

One of the groups I put together was this three-generation portrait of my daughter, her son with his wife, and their daughter. As I've been teaching throughout my career, when putting heads together for a group, no two heads were together at the same level. I posed Alice seated on one of the chairs with Katy on her mother's knees, slightly below her. I then had my daughter, Tammi, lean in from one side and brought Evan in from the other side, again mother slightly higher than her son. No two heads were directly on top of each other without someone in between. Basically, I tried to keep the faces of Tammi and Evan parallel to those of Alice and her baby.

I photographed my granddaughter Sara alone, promising to photograph her with her husband when that day should come. You can see that she reacted with a twinkle in her eyes that seems always to be there. In Photoshop I darkened the bottom of the picture to focus the attention where it should be for a head-and-shoulders portrait: on her face. I did this by creating an adjustment layer in Levels and painting out the top of the picture, leaving the lower part of the image darker than the rest of the picture--sort of like the "burning-in" or vignetting that we used to do back in the olden days.

The final portrait of the day (and to me the most exciting one) was created when we passed another opening from the overhead cover. I could see the potential, gave my camera to Alex and suggested that he spread us out on the steps. Based on my instructions Alex loosely directed us into a pyramid composition and told everyone to look at Katy. At this incredible moment he caught a connection between me and my great granddaughter that flipped me out.

With everyone's attention glued to Katy this four-generation family portrait could not have been any nicer. The mismatched clothing doesn't bother me a bit. As a matter of fact, I love the picture even more for its naturalness.

And, perhaps, for the first time in my life I feel as if I really know--on a very personal level--what it is to have a treasured moment in a family's life immortalized forever.

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