Photo Gift Idea

December 04, 2016

This time of year gift giving is on everyone's mind.   Some of the most challenging people for me to buy for are my parents and my in-laws.  They really do not want/need more stuff.  I want to to show them how much they mean to us.  It is from this desire for meaning that this particular photo gift idea was born.  I have had the idea to do this composite (merging of several photos) for some time.  One of the challenges was I wanted it to be a surprise for them.  PLEASE keep my secret until Christmas if you know my in-laws!  This past Thanksgiving they were not able to make it, but all their grandchildren were there, so I seized the moment!  Here is the image I made.

 

I am in love with how this turned out.  Although at first glance you might think I lined up all the kids in front of the red fence and took a group picture, this gift is actually a series of individual photos that I merged into one.  By taking a series of individual photos I was able to focus on each child, making sure they were looking and giving a nice natural smile.  If you love this idea as much as I do, here on some things to consider before you start taking photos.

1)  How large do you want your final print?  I knew I was going to take 2x3 photos of everyone and that my final print was going to be a nonstandard size of 16x6.  I know a great local/professional shop that can do nonstandard sizing for me.  I also know this means a custom frame job.   

2)  How many people are in your photo?  This answer combined with your final print size will have you doing a little math.  Do not worry I have faith you can figure it out.

3)  Keep the backdrop/lighting the same.  The first three older kids needed to kneel down in order to take a photo in front of the same part of the fence as the littler ones.  I also made sure to take all the kids' photos one after another in open shade.  I did this so the lighting would be uniform in the photos.

4)  Keep the camera settings the same.  This is where shooting in auto mode might hurt you.  If the camera is doing the thinking for you, it might make different decisions from one child to the next.  I made sure my f stop (the amount of light I let in to the camera) was the same for all eight children.  I also used a higher shutter speed 1/200.  I did this because little ones fidgit a lot and you want to freeze them without any hand blur.

5) Take the same type of picture of each child.  I kept my zoom and distance consistent with each child as well as having them hold their letter in relatively the same spot.  This will make editing the composition much easier later on.

6) When cropping the photos for the composition, use the rule of thirds.  If you are not sure what the rule of thirds is click here.  By lining up the eyes with the rule of thirds you will keep them all relatively level in your photo, giving the allusion that everyone stood still and smiled nicely for the camera at the same time.

7)  In order to merge all these photos onto a new layer backdrop I used Photoshop Elements.  Crop each individual photo to the same size.  Open a new blank document with the dimensions you worked out earlier.  Select each individual photo, hit control C and then on the new blank layer, hit control V.  Your photo will now appear on the new layer.  To move it into place/resize it, use control T.  Repeat with all subsequent photos.  There is free photo editing software out there if you do not own/want to purchase Photoshop Elements, however, I am not familiar enough with any of it to offer a recommendation.

8) Put your own stamp on this idea.  You could have the children all hold a sign saying something they love about their grandparents or have all the kids lined up with their bare feet showing and a secret message written on their feet.  The sky is really the limit when it come to creativity.

I hope you enjoy my example.  I would be happy to help you create a one of a kind composite for the grandparents in your life.  Contact me today to set up a session.  haselhorstphotography@gmail.com