View Full Version : Looking for composition ideas
06-18-2001, 04:18 PM
Hello out there!
I have a portrait commission coming up in August with 4 subjects. They are brothers, two pre-teens and two baby/toddlers. Before our photo shoot, I would like to have some composition ideas in mind.
Does anyone out there know of any 4-subject portraits -- either old masters or new/contemporary? I would love to see some examples.
Also, don't you think it would be great if there was a book of poses/composition ideas for multiple subject portraits? The book would provide just outlines or silhouettes of various ways to pose 2 or more subjects together. Does this exist? Do you think you would ever refer to such a book, or do you think that individuals are just too unique to consider posing them based on a formula?
Thanks for your input!
06-18-2001, 04:39 PM
You could try taking a look here:
06-18-2001, 11:39 PM
Oh boy, TWO toddlers in the mix :eek: . A 'must' to remember is that a child's attention span is generally their age plus two minutes. Considering this, it is good that your planning ahead. Your best bet is to plan something interesting that also contains them and hope for good quick shots. Most toddlers will not tolerate being posed for more than a few minutes without a protest or at the very least, trying to wander off. If you get too dead-set on a specific placement you may end up feeling overly frustrated when the little ones burn-out.
You didn't mention if this was to be formal or informal. Head and shoulders montage or full lenth grouping. I will assume full-length informal for now.
Interest + containment.
These are meant to stimulate ideas - your containment resources will vary:
Set them up in an enclosed space that will play into family meaning if possible.
Here is an example from our family photo album - These are my 3 eldest children. I know, not four like you requested but the point here is containment that has family meaning. We drove this 1964 Station Wagon until 4 years ago when, after someone hit it, it had to be retired. These pictures were taken only 30 minutes before it was picked up. My daughter, who is typically very stoic, even cried as they towed it out of our driveway. It had lots of personality. Note the OLD*MOBILE (broken S) logo on the back. (1) The kids are contained (2) it is easy to get them facing out toward camera. Will probably work for toddlers even (3) The containment mechanism has family meaning. With lots of quick, before the kids lost it photos, and a bit of compositing work (such as repositioning arms and gazes) this could be a great family heirloom
Interview the family well before photo day for their special containment place. You might get lucky and a perfect one will occur to them.
Other ideas are back of family pick-up (see small picture); a big family quilt to surround them all like a big hug; a favorite large park slide or merry-go-round; porch swing; a big, low boughed tree (be careful of safety); etc.
If getting them all together in one group is too hard - don't forget the triptych (spelling?). You can vary the grouping but the separate portraits have a unifying object seen through each. These make sense to me as a mother because I know that someday my children are going to be grown and all will want their own portrait, yet there is the knowledge of how interconnected each of them are.
06-19-2001, 11:59 PM
Thank you very much for your reply, it was so helpful! I will definitely give the containment principle a try... and I will post a photo here when the composition is ready.
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