Lifestyle Family Photography using FaceTime
I recently came across this photographer’s brilliant FaceTime photos online: https://timdunk.com/facetime-photoshoots In the time of COVID, I was immediately intrigued. I liked the challenge and decided to give lifestyle family photography using Facetime a shot.
It seemed like a fascinating challenge. I would call someone using Facetime and direct them where and how to aim their camera on the subject. I would then take the photo by “clicking the shutter” on my phone. Not only would I have to find the light virtually, but I would also have to direct both the subject and the camera holder through our phones as well.
I decided to do a FaceTime test shoot first. I enlisted two of my children in my own home. I went upstairs and called my eldest daughter via FaceTIme. Through our phones, I attempted to direct them near our living room window. I did not get very far. They had no patience for my directing and started fighting over who would be the camera holder. The Facetime photoshoot ended very quickly.
I then asked a friend, Eileen, in a neighboring town if she could help. If you know Eileen, you know she is awesome. I have often admired her strong personal convictions and her wicked sense of humor. She also recently posted this picture of her husband and kid on Instagram that I thought was amazing: https://www.instagram.com/p/B-AhQ5ojiHL-eXUWB3bIs33it8VqJ1NuTDWKcM0/
On top of that, Eileen was also hosting a safe distancing disco block dance party that evening that I also wanted to photograph in person. Basically, Eileen is a rock star and I have been wanting to photograph her family for some time. One of my photos from her disco block party ended up in this month’s Chronogram Magazine. You can view it here.
I approached the FaceTime shoot as would any photoshoot. First, find the light! I, therefore, asked Eileen to send me some photos of the windows in her house. I looked at the photos, noticed the light, and came up with a loose plan. Eileen’s son is young and like the rest of the world, currently under quarantine. I figured he would be antsy but in the end, his patience surprised me. In fact, he had more patience than my two daughters who are at least twice his age!
We started the Lifestyle Family Photography shoot using FaceTime in their living room. I liked the corner in the living room with the two windows and the couch. I asked Eileen to pan the room slowly to be sure and then asked her son to sit on the couch and look out one window. I wanted the light to frame his face, while the other window highlighted the other side of his head. Eileen’s son simply settled into playing with some toys on the windowsill and I shot away. We then moved upstairs to his bedroom where he again played with some toys by the window.
As I do with almost anything I photographing, I find the light and then let my subjects do their own thing.
I will loosely direct if need be. For Eilleen’s son, it was easy as “Don’t look at me. Play with your toys.” The hard part was directing Eileen where to stand to take the shot. This was especially hard when having just a quick visual snapshot of the room only moments before. It went like this, “Can you go stand to the right of the desk? Is there room to stand there? No, the other way. No parallel with the window. Can you position the phone slightly down? Can you not cut off his foot in the right of the frame? Can your son look out the window? No, the other window? Can you get down on your knees and angle the phone direct?
The mini shoot ended up taking about twenty minutes in total. Eileen has a natural artistic sense about her and she seemed to instinctively understand my direction. That really helped. I am happy with the light and composition of the two photos here. The quality of the photos, not so much. The details are pixelated. However, if you are using a newer phone with a better camera, you might get better results.
If anyone else wants to play and try another FaceTime shoot – lifestyle or straight-up portraiture – reach out. I am down!
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