Our summer portrait - behind the scenes - xanthe berkeley
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Our summer portrait – behind the scenes

Our summer portrait – behind the scenes

It’s probably against the rules to reveal the secrets behind certain photos, but I wanted to show the behind-the-scenes of this recent portrait  of the boys and I totally based on this famous shot, as some people have asked how I created it. (please remember this is just a demonstration of how I did it, to inspire you).

I’d also like to show the reality that not all the shots taken were “perfect”, but there is still a lovely story found within some of them. Hopefully you will see how anyone can have a go at it, with a lot of patience and a sprinkling of magic.

First, finding the right light. The light is our bedroom is gorgeous & bright, and the walls are plain, creating a simple background.

Picking the most likely time my boys would cooperate was a factor, so I decided one mid morning during the summer holidays was the chance to get them in their best moods. I started with just one boy at a time so to curb the chaos that my two boys usually bring.

I set up the tripod and my remote control, using this lovely boy to work out the initial composition.

I soon realised this position is ridiculous as the window on the side was creating too many shadows.

So we spun round facing the window and I decide to add a little mascara, because that always makes a difference.

Then I realise the back ground is full of clothes and things hanging on the door, so I remove these.

I keep clicking away and slowly I’m getting towards the shot I want….

Except 4 out of every 5 shots is a silly face…. and I must try to disguise that I’m clicking the remote.

So I figure it’s time to re-set the shot and the cat arrives to get in on the action (and probably to escape her kittens.)

Now I try with my eldest, who should be more sensible in front of the camera….but he isn’t.

He starts to play ball and gets into it, knowing that the sooner I get my shot, he can be outta there.

Then I try both boys in the shot, and the silly faces continue….

SO we strike a deal…. they get to play with the remote when we’ve finished, and this is the chaos I was talking about.

Among the nonsense, a sprinkling of magic happened and surprisingly I start to get some shots….

And then the final portrait shot and some others…. here are my favourites….

Hope that might inspire someone to give it a go, creating your own family portraits is possible, I can’t wait to see what you do.

All shots edited in RadLab.

18 Comments
  • Jeri Taira
    Posted at 00:00h, 02 October Reply

    So generous of you to share your BTS moment. I love how it turned into family time. How genius to let the boys play with the remote. These are amazing. I loved them all. Even the ones in the shadows.

  • Carina
    Posted at 16:40h, 11 March Reply

    Inspiring…and makes me want to try a family self portrait session, though not sure we’ll turn out as photographic as you do. 🙂

  • Macrina
    Posted at 15:16h, 05 November Reply

    the best are the silly faces. once upon a time i took a series of photos for a friend and called the collection “the many faces of Biss”. she was such a good sport and since that day, i have sought to capture silly faces. often because they produce laughter after-the-fact and those post-faces-smiles are always most true and honest and real. my husband has adopted this love of taking pictures of my many faces – the perplexed, silly, unexpected, ridiculous.

    thank you for sharing Xanthe! more proof of how beautiful your life is.

  • Laura
    Posted at 05:10h, 04 November Reply

    Just beautiful…thanks for letting us see the reality behind a such gorgeous shot. I love the playfulness. Oh! I do miss having a little boy as I’m pretty sure my 17 year old son won’t be willing for this type of family portrait!

  • stefanierenee
    Posted at 02:02h, 04 November Reply

    wow – so beautiful and thank you for sharing! I need to get a remote like pronto! and try this with my girls. Oohhh…you’ve totally inspired me. thank you so much dear one!
    xoxo

  • tara on the wander
    Posted at 17:19h, 03 November Reply

    such gorgeousness. and an inspiration for creating such beauty with two boys — i often feel my spaces are overrun with legos and cars and dinosaurs.

  • Denise Balyoz
    Posted at 16:40h, 03 November Reply

    love….just love these shots. so real. so natural. and your boys are utterly gorgeous! 🙂 ps. so is your cat! x

  • Nanette Gordon-Cramton
    Posted at 15:42h, 03 November Reply

    You and your boys are simply beautiful….

  • sarah w.
    Posted at 15:07h, 03 November Reply

    Oh Xanthe,
    These are FANTASTIC (even like Kristin said — the outtakes too!). I love seeing the process and how things are created so thank you for showing the behind-the-scenes magic.

    You also reminded me that I need to get a remote for my camera (as I was doing some selfies this morning with the self-timer and the remote would’ve been much easier!)

  • kristin
    Posted at 06:21h, 03 October Reply

    every one of these is brilliant! you really should have them printed into a book.
    what a treasure.
    beautiful mama. gorgeous boys. and the love… oh the love.

  • Sarah Jane
    Posted at 04:24h, 30 September Reply

    Seriously, all of these are just so beautiful! The silly ones are so fun, I love that you got so many great shots just trying to get that one “perfect” one.

  • sarah
    Posted at 17:00h, 29 September Reply

    i love seeing behind-the-scenes shots…for me it always adds to the magic of the finished product, which i think is one of your best pictures 🙂
    and the silly-face pictures had me laughing!

  • Tina
    Posted at 14:11h, 29 September Reply

    these are all so great and it really shows how much work it takes to get that one perfect shot. 😉 i love the ones of the boys playing with the remote, those are the best.

  • Kirstin
    Posted at 06:42h, 29 September Reply

    Xanthe, you and boys make such a wonderful team. I love ALL of these pictures. x

  • Michelle
    Posted at 04:12h, 29 September Reply

    These are so beautiful. You’ve inspired me to try again with my kids. They are so NOT into being in my photographs, especially the oldest, that I was just about ready to quit trying.

  • Kelly
    Posted at 22:35h, 28 September Reply

    absolutely gorgeous & fun every single shot!
    yes, you have inspired me!!! beautiful b&w conversions too! xxx

  • Bella
    Posted at 22:33h, 28 September Reply

    These are all so beautiful ~ full of life & crazy, silly love.

  • keli
    Posted at 22:15h, 28 September Reply

    so absolutely beautiful!!! they are such cutie pies! and you are gorgeous, as always. xo

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