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Picture This

Our chief photographer shares his insights.

By Earl Nottingham

It’s a Texas tradition. Wildflowers pop up each spring alongside the state’s highways and surrounding countryside. Hordes of people descend on the fields with kids and cameras in tow to perpetuate the decades-old ritual of photographing their offspring surrounded by a sea of color.

Three simple things can help you turn this year’s snapshots into beautiful outdoor portraits.

  1. Lighting: A blue-sky day isn’t necessarily the best for portraiture. A slight overcast produces a softer, more flattering light for people as well as flowers. On clear days, shoot early in the morning or late in the evening, avoiding the unflattering noonday light.
  2. Focal length: Using a longer focal length (around 100mm) on most cameras helps isolate a smaller area of the field, eliminating distracting objects — such as power lines — and providing a better perspective for portraits.
  3. Clothing: Choose solid colors, avoiding patterned prints and all-white clothing, which tend to pull attention away from the subject’s face. Primary colors work well for older children and adults while pastels work for very young children and babies. If you can get the whole family to cooperate, all-denim clothing works well for a group shot.

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