Family Portraits at Baker Beach San Francisco

I was hired to do family portraits in San Francisco’s Baker Beach. We decided on a Saturday morning shoot. The day turned out to be forecast for warm weather. This resulted in a crowded beach despite the early start. So OK, I have worked with crowded areas before – it is about timing, waiting for people to pass by so the backgrounds are clean. It’s also about the angles- choosing clean backgrounds. The real challenge is presented when you have all these factors with 2 young kids!

The family had a 18 month boy old and a 4 year old girl. Here is my first shot – taken toward the beginning of the session- I wanted to get a posed family portrait with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. Actually, because the kids weren’t settled- the resulting image is a composite of 2 different frames, then retouched to take out people in the background.

Family sit on blanket at Baker Beach with Golden Gate as the backdrop - early morning sun

Family sit on blanket at Baker Beach with Golden Gate as the backdrop - early morning sun

The high energy of the kids- meant that my normal plan of picking angles with clean backgrounds largely went out the window – I was conscious of my backgrounds, however I went into photojournalist mode tracking the action and looking for moments as the energy was channeled into activities we devised between formal poses. Here is an example of grabbing the moment despite lack of a perfect set up. The boy took a break during shooting to lie down on a small log- we turned around and found him in this pose…

Non - retouched version of the candid moment we saw

Non - retouched version of the candid moment we saw

I was aware at the time that there people on the sand at the horizon, there was a trash can behind the girl running in the background and there was trash on the sand. Rather than obsess over those details, I went with the moment- I think it is important to go for both, but take the moment of perfection any time! Here is the final version with the details cleaned up…

Retouched version with details cleaned up and color adjusted

Retouched version with details cleaned up and color adjusted

The result is that we have the beach to ourselves, and it looks like a postcard clean beach that the kids are playing on! Yet the moment is real and fun with the kids being themselves. I like to work on these types of shots because they have an energy an authenticity to them that cannot be staged or faked.

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