Family Portraits in a California Thunderstorm
by Eric Leslie
I know what you're thinking, who goes out and shoots portraits in a thunderstorm? Well, I do. I'm just practicing what I preach — to go out and shoot at the edges of storms. That advice is also true for portrait photography. I had a project I needed to get done. I looked outside and the light was incredible so I got this party started by having the boys choose a blue shirt. This is what they came out with. I don't normally care for printed tees, but it just worked. Each of them got to be an individual which is really important in a family with five boys. I wanted to get a serious shot and the trick to getting most of the way there was to snap the picture on the 2 count when they're expecting 3. Caught off-guard, their poses were natural and relaxed.
This storm was ripping through with 50mph gusts. Going out between the rain and hail squalls, we took some shelter behind the house to break the wind. Crystal on lighting duty still had to hold the umbrella with both hands to keep from blowing away. It was intense. What I wanted to do was find a compromise between having a nice DOF yet still overpower the ambient light. I started with a shutter speed of 1/200th because that's my camera's max sync speed. On ISO 100 I was able to go as wide as f/5.6 with the flash on full power through an umbrella 45 degrees off my right shoulder. In and out the whole setup took me about ten minutes. Once I got it, I dismissed them. That's about as much 5 boys can take at a time before they start vibrating and bouncing trying to contain their excess energy.
My number one piece of advice is always to be adventurous and try new things. You may have to be hardcore and brave the elements, but the results can be stellar. What's the craziest portrait shoot you've done?