Christmas is the time to get together, spend precious moments with your family, and have fun. It’s always a great opportunity to create lasting memories that you can revisit later. Photographer Ross Grieve is an expert in family portraits and has a few pointers on how to achieve the best results. ‘Photography is fun. When you get everyone involved and participating, you’ll get great pictures. Don’t be afraid to try things out, and make sure you capture those moments in between, of people giggling and laughing.’ Depending on the setting – outdoors or in a studio – Ross works with different kinds of LUMIX cameras, for example the LUMIX S1R, LUMIX G9 and the LUMIX GH5.
Most of his portraits are made in his studio. But you can also get great results at home, especially at Christmastime, with the lights on the tree, candles and a glowing fireplace. ‘The warmth of the light, combined with the reds and greens, makes for a great ambiance. To keep things simple, just use the available light in the room. That way you really give your photos a real Christmassy feel. You can create a beautiful bokeh by choosing a wide aperture, focusing on your subject in the foreground, and the Christmas lights in the background will be nicely separated.’
Using the available light means you have to keep an eye on the white balance. ‘Daylight is more blue than tungsten for example. Tungsten is more yellow. If you don’t adjust your white balance, it’s going to affect the colour of the photograph, including skin tones. You can keep your camera on automatic White Balance, but always check the colour temperature in the photos. If you experience difficulty in getting the right colour temperature, try using a grey card.’
Play with composition. ‘People usually place their subject in the middle of the frame. Your photo is more interesting if you place your subject on one of the sides. That way you’re showing more of the surroundings. It enables you to tell a story. When you ask your family members to pose, take the time to see how it looks. Run your eye across all the four corners of the frame. Small things, like sitting up straight, can really improve your portraits. Don’t just make staged photos; make sure you capture those moments in between, when people forget you’re photographing. Capture them laughing, making little gestures or jokes. Those are really memorable moments. The Face Recognition feature of the LUMIX cameras really comes in handy here: even when your subject is moving, the camera locks in on the eyes. It also has a similar function for pets. This feature really changed my way of photography, it’s great.’
Not everybody likes to be photographed. ‘That’s okay; don’t force people to be in the portrait. You can ask them to take the photo instead. That way they’re still involved.’ When making a portrait of the whole family, make sure you choose an aperture of F 4.0 or higher. If you use F 2.8, not everybody will be in focus. If everyone, including you, wants to be in the photo, then use the self-timer: there’s one on the camera, or you can download the app that enables you to trigger the camera.’
Photographing children or pets? Work fast! ‘Photographing children and pets requires more or less for the same method.
Lure them in with treats! Children and animals have short attention spans (especially on Christmas Day), so before you know it they’re bouncing around again. Work fast if you’re trying to make a portrait. However, sometimes the most interesting photos are the ones that aren’t perfect according to the ‘photographic rules’. Try to capture those moments that really show their daily life and character. Those are lasting memories.’
Don’t beat yourself up about camera settings you may not be comfortable with. Try using Intelligent Auto mode (iA mode) on your camera. ‘This feature in LUMIX cameras is absolutely amazing. Even professional photographers use it at times, for example, when they have to work fast. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the other modes as well. Switch to Aperture Priority mode when you want to control aperture value, the camera will select the shutter speed. Or, when you’re photographing movement, choose Shutter Priority, to make sure you’ll be able to freeze the action. With 4K or 6K it’s even easier to freeze the action, and you get to choose the best photo out of a series of images.’
Feeling inspired? Get your camera out and create lasting memories. Some closing advice from Ross: ‘Do something with your favourite photos! Don’t just leave them in your camera. Get your photos printed to put on your wall. They’re also great gifts for family and friends.’
New Zealand born photographer Ross Grieve has been mastering his art for over 20 years. Ross now resides in the beautiful rolling countryside of Pembrokeshire in Wales. An accomplished photographer who has won many awards including UK Pet Photographer and Welsh Master Fashion & Portrait Photographer, he has travelled to far-flung parts of the world on assignment including Thailand, the Maldives, Ras Al Khaimah, Japan, Sweden and Australia. He is also a passionate Street Photographer.
Since becoming an Ambassador for Panasonic, he has won yet more awards and is leading the way in 4K and 6K photography. Ross’ fun-filled, action packed photograph of a water fight included his three children, who have since become the face of the GH4 campaign in Europe. Ross also was one of two photographers involved in the Lumix GH5 campaign, where Ross was able to show the advantages of 4K and 6K photography.