Andrew Tomasino - Family Portraits Final 2

Nikon D600, Sigma 35 “Art” lens, ISO 100, 1/200 @ F8 

For this blog I wanted to focus on something that everyone can get behind and has most likely been asked to photograph before; Families. My dear friend and fellow shooter Carter Leblanc, and I have been in talks to photograph his family for …. years. We’re both very busy, as most photographers are, and couldn’t sync our schedules up until this past weekend.

Now I’m sure many of you have gone through this conversation before … a friend wants some photos, but they can only meet at high noon on a Saturday, after the kids have had naps, and before their family has to run off to the next activity. Your response: “Noon … sunny day … uhhh, Sure! I’d love to shoot it then.” You hang up your phone … and now wonder how the !@#$#% you’re going to wrangle this lighting situation. Open shade? But what if open shade just isn’t enough? Or if you want to shape the light a little further than what is there naturally?

Enter the Westcott Pro 54″ x 72″ Shallow Softbox. With its low profile, easy set-up, and a punch of light … I’m sure you’re going to find a way to fit this in your bag. Remember my last blog post? Here comes another drawing …

Andrew Tomasino - Family Portraits Set Up

I know this doesn’t exactly “speak” to the photo above, but you get the idea. What we’re going to dive into now is how you can get multiple looks out of one simple, clean light source. I like the this softbox because it’s very large, but its low profile makes it easy to set up. It also has incredible punch, which also helps when working to over power the sun. Making my job much easier.

I know it’s the cool thing to have tons of people on set all looking at every move you do (no it’s not) as you command silence, push the shutter once, and then hop aboard your private jet to the next gig … but, for us “regular folk” it just doesn’t work that way. In my opinion, having connection with your subject is the skeleton key to a good photograph, and as nice as extra help may be via an assistant/s, it can often take away from the connection with your subject.

Click, Boom, Happy Family. You’re done now right? Saddle up, and go home! Kick your feet up on the couch and praise the photo gods that you can live another day in their good graces!


I admit, I’m a people pleaser, and I want to make sure I do a good job for my clients. So I try and score something that I know will be sharp, beautifully lit, and fitting to the needs of most everyone. But afterward, I want to make an image that speaks to my taste as a photographer.

In this case, I slapped a 2 stop ND on my camera, which gives me the ability to open my aperture 2 stops, bringing me from F8 in the first image to F4 … but to be honest, I took my aperture to 2.8 cause what I wanted was a soft, painterly look. This also does wonders for flash power, because now I don’t need full power blasts of light to get to F8. I trade that for little puffs and faster recycle times. Nothing else changed for my camera settings.

Andrew Tomasino - Family Portraits Final 1

Same spot, two totally different looks. In the end, I like both images, and so does my client. The first image looks polished and commercial, the second looks painterly and in my opinion “feels” more like a family portrait.

Andrew Tomasino - Family Portraits

Thanks again for reading, you can check out all my single and family portraits work via my website. Also, connect with me on Twitter! I’d love to hear what you’d like me to write about next.

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