How do you choose a location that’s right for YOU? That’s a topic that seems pretty straight forward, but sometimes what we really want is not what we initially think. The grandma in this image was originally thinking she wanted a mountain location. Perfect, I thought, I have about a dozen awesome ones to choose from and they are close by too (I’m spoiled, I know). But the more I exchanged emails with her, the more I was hearing, she wanted the people to be big and to be the main focus of the picture. When she asked how many inches tall they would be compared to the rest of the image, I knew she really wanted to be able to see each person as big as possible in the photo, in spite of having a family of 30 people. Once I heard that, offered two ideas:
- Consider a location where the background is fairly solid (like this mostly green backdrop below) so all the focus is on the people. With mountain backdrops and 30 people, it would most likely make the people smaller overall so I could incorporate the mountains into the photo. Don’t get me wrong, mountains and extended families are a great combo and I’ve done it many times! I especially love to do extended family sessions at Tibblefork Reservoir, but I had a hunch it wasn’t going to deliver the focus that that this grandma was describing.
- Go with a 1:3 Ratio. I need to make a blog post on ratios, but if you’ve ever heard the term “panoramic”, that is a 1:3 ratio. Basically the print is three times as long as it is high (for example 10×30, 12×36, 15×45….you get the idea). Why would that matter? Well when you print a panorama, it allows you to print the people bigger without making the overall canvas humongous. You just need a wide space to be able to display it. This grandma decided the perfect height would be 24 inches which would normally make the width 36 inches (get it? Because a camera takes pictures in 4×6 ratios). But by converting it to a 1×3 (by cropping off part of the top and bottom of the image in Photoshop), her picture could then be printed as a 24×72!!! What does that do? Well it makes the people BIG on her wall which is exactly what she wanted. Now some of you may be thinking, I thought you said a panoramic can SAVE you wall space? Let me explain. Remember how that camera takes pictures in 4×6 ratios? So normally to get a print that is 72 inches wide you would have to print a 48×72! In her final print, her family members were the same size they would have been in a 48×72, but she only had to print a 24×72, essentially saving her half the wall space. You don’t have to go this big to have the same principle apply. I had another client this summer print their 45 person portrait in a 16×48. And one year I gifted my in-laws a 10×30 of all of us.
Panoramas aren’t right for everyone, but I really feel like they are underutilized for big groups. So before you go to the monumental effort of coordinating 30 schedules, contemplate what’s important to you, and where you want your focus to be. If you have a huge group (30 or more) and you really want the people to be as big as possible or just don’t have a lot of wall space, then go for the 1×3 with an understated backdrop. And most importantly, make sure your photographer knows ahead of time, and actually knows how to take a picture that will convert nicely to a 1×3 ratio.