November has been a blur but I think I am lucky to have lost track of time. In Australia November is the time for high school formals and I’ve had the pleasure of photographing several young ladies, as they get ready for their formal. It might to be a girl thing because so far I’ve only been asked to photograph the daughters getting ready rather than the sons. Perhaps one Mum said it best when she commented that she was looking forward to her son’s formal when all that is required is a clean suit and tidy haircut.
I wanted to offer some simple photography tips to the parents and families of students getting ready for their formals.
Do the basics the day before the formal. Make sure the camera is charged and you’ve got spare batteries.
Try to set aside 15-20 minutes before you drive to the venue to take some pictures in the relaxed comfort of your own backyard.
Most formals start late in the afternoon when the light is perfect. Ask your daughter to stand in open shade (eg under a large tree) Open shade helps to eliminate harsh shadows from the sun and if it’s a hot day your daughter won’t feel like she’s melting.
Find a nice background for the young lady to stand in front of such as a flowering shrub, some trees, a garden hedge.
Ask your daughter to stand with most of her weight on her back foot and the front leg (closet to the camera) bent slightly at the knee. Holding a flower or carrying a clutch purse will give her something to do and makes the images more natural.
Don’t forget to get some pictures of Mum & Dad and the rest of the family with your daughter.
When you get to the venue forget about family pictures its all about their friends. You’ll need to be quick and take as many photos as you can with the various groups of friends. Where possible suggest they stand in shade or in front of a pleasing backdrop. The brick walls of school buildings are usually not very attractive and a simple request to move a step to the left or right might ensure a much better picture. Better yet, if you have a DSLR camera, open the aperture up to throw the background out of focus.
Don’t forget to take some tight shots (just head and shoulders) of your kids while they are with their friends. There will be moments when he or she is completely relaxed, probably smiling or laughing, isn’t aware of your camera and you’ll get some great shots.