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I got asked to take pictures at my nephews birthday party (7 years old), more specifically portrait pictures of him and each family member. So this would be him and one adult (or one of his child cousins) per picture.

I am very unsure how to composite the picture. We will be doing it in front of a tree, and because many of the family members are quite old and the other are rather larger than the boy, I was thinking about the adult sitting on a chair and the boy standing next to it (sitting on the lap is probably not going to work out at his age anymore). But I am not really sure and can only find composition advice for single person portraits. I would appreciate some pointers as to how to composite the portraits.

If it is relevant, I got hold of a Canon EOS 500D, but my qualification to take the pictures at the party is that I have the camera :-(

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2  
+1 for the humor in the last sentance. Welcome to photo.stackexchange! –  Paul Cezanne Aug 8 '13 at 21:48
    
Wouldn't this be better titled "Composing ..." rather than"Compositing ..."? I understand compositing as putting two or more pictures together in post-processing. –  Joe Aug 13 '13 at 22:12

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I think you have the right idea with having the 7 year old standing, it might be awkward for a boy that age to sit on the lap of family members - and the images will show that. Keep everyone comfortable. If grandma or grandpa are in the picture, and they would be more comfortable sitting, certainly provide them a chair. If the picture is with the 7 year old and a 20 something year old cousin, they might be comfortable jumping up and down. The idea is to vary the poses and keep them age appropriate.

If you have already decided the images will be under a tree, I would consider the size of the tree and the shade that it provides. It is important that all faces and bodies(if possible) are in the shade. Make sure that some faces aren't in sunlight and some aren't, that is an easy mistake to make.

Shade is usually a photographers best friend if it is a bright sunny day. If it is overcast, it doesn't matter much. I would bring your subjects as far away from the tree trunk as possible to give some background separation between the subjects and the tree - but keep in mind that you want to be in the shade.

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Two main ways I can see to take it, one is to have the adult in the chair angled in towards the center and have him stand behind the person's legs facing in slightly towards center on the other side.

The other method that might look more natural would be to have him stand on something to raise his height to be more even with the adults. Also if they are tall enough, having them hug the relative from behind the chair or stand behind them with both looking forward can work well.

Really, it's just a matter of playing around with things to get it to look decent. I suggest taking a look at things like Google image search for pictures with grandparent and children to get some more ideas of possibilities and then work with what you can for the space and size of the people involved. There isn't really a one size fits all solution.

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I will be basically adding to what @dpolitt wrote, but as I am not allowed to comment yet this has to be an answer:

I found that this kind of "having to take a picture of every guest" with or without the birthday child, can get quite lengthy. Especially for a child it would help to keep him happy if there is always one standard pose and then one or more shots where the portrayed people can bring in their ideas. The outcome will usually portray their age and relationship quite well. Child cousins for example might have a "secret sign" or handshake, he might still be happy to sit on grandpas (but only grandpas!) lap and so on. And, as a bonus, the photographer does not get bored as well. You'll still have the standard shot as a backup, but a lot more variance.

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