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composite photography of the family gathering portrait by dallas portrait photographer

The 53 Images of the Family Gathering Composite

As a Dallas Portrait Photographer who specializes in Family Portraits through Composite Photography, I’m constantly faced with new challenges.

And today’s Break Down of my Family Gathering Composite is no different.

Famous American Illustrator, Norman Rockwell, worked primarily within a vertical format, only on the rare occasion creating a horizontal illustration.

Unlike Norman Rockwell, who primarily created work for magazine covers, my work is created using a horizontal format to be hung in the homes of my clients, rarely giving me the opportunity to create a Vertical Photillustration.

Let’s see how good my Vertical is, and break into today’s Break Down.

The Family Gathering

You may be wondering, “Why a Vertical when you’re so used to doing everything as Horizontals?”

family portrait of durham family by dallas portrait photographer, jason ulsrud

And I would reply, “For two (2) reasons!”

First, the reason I love creating One-of-a-Kind Portraits that no other Photographer in the world is doing, is because of the challenges I face.

The reason my One-of-a-Kind Photillustrations are so good, is because I have become really efficient at solving problems.

And creating a Vertical Photillustration is one problem I embraced the challenge of.

Secondly, and most importantly, the client’s home, and where the client wanted to display their artwork, dictated the Vertical Dimension.

While most homes are designed and oriented to appeal to the Horizontal Eye, on occasion the lines in the home dictate a Vertical Format.

And rather than sticking to what’s easy for me, I embraced the challenge of going Vertical.

Breaking Down The Family Gathering

As I mentioned in my previous Break Down of Gone to the Dogs, I approach each Photillustration I create as a puzzle, and boy was this a doozy.

I enlarged this scene, shrunk the scene, twisted the scene, and tweaked the scene, all in an effort to make a vertical look pleasing to my eye.

breakdown of family gathering composite by dallas portrait photographer

#1 Steve: Steve is a really fun guy who did a great job posing on a stool in his backyard for this image.

#2 Julie: Fortunately Julie is so nice looking and posed so great, it only took five or six photos to get the right one.

#3 Tara: Believe it or not, Tara was able to strike the perfect pose without even being on this boat.

#4 & #5 Charlie: It took two separate images to composite Charlie together as she flies off the boat to catch the duck.

#6 Lucy: Photographed by the pool, I used a ball to get Lucy to look in the right direction.

#7 Jack: With his front paws on a stool, I guess I was lucky to get this photo of Jack.

#8 Steve: Dad fishing with his boys only took a couple of photos to get this.

#9 Henry: Pretending to catch a fish, Henry did a great job giving me his best surprised expression.

#10 George: The plan for George was to be mad his brother caught a fish and he didn’t, which I think he nailed.

#11 Barbara: A painter, Barbara wanted to be painting with her granddaughter.

#12 Blake: Blake is an awesome model who easily strikes the perfect pose.

#13 Kristin: Photographed in the garage, Kristin strikes the perfect pose to look like she’s going to catch her baby.

#14 Peter & Curtis: When asked to hang his sun upside down by the ankle, Peter had no hesitation, and Curtis thought it was fun.

#15 Bill: Always a ham, Bill actually looks like he could be roasting Weiner’s on an open fire.

#16 & #17 Lake: I composite two separate photos of water together to build the lake.

#18 Ripples & Splashes: I Photoshopped in ripples and splashes along the side of the boat to give the illusion that it’s moving.

#19 Electric Boat: I photographed the boat in the dock without anybody on it, which gave me the flexibility to do what I wanted with it.

#20 Racing Duck: I thought it would be funny to see the electric boat racing the duck, so I spent a bit of time at the lake to capture an image of a duck swimming fast.

#21 Reflection: Most people don’t notice the reflections in the water, but each of those were created using Photoshop.

#22 Duck: Supporting duck cast.

#23 Reflections: More reflections from the people on the dock to add realism to the portrait.

#24 White Duck: I don’t want to be duckist, so I added a white duck for diversity.

#25 Brick Wall: I photographed this wall, along with the other elements of the backyard from the backyard on the other side of the lake.

#26 Dock: I waited until the end of the day to make sure the lighting on the dock was flat enough for this Photillustration.

#27 Sidewalk: To help the bush in the background read separate from the foreground, I added a piece of their sidewalk.

#28 Painting Easel: Independently photographed so I could position it just as I wanted it.

#29 Large Bush: A part of their backyard, this bush presented a great deal of challenges for me.

#30 Flowers: I quickly realized the bush by itself felt like an empty green hole in the portrait, so I added some contrasting red flowers to fill it.

#31 Statue: I wanted this statue to be bigger, so I photographed it separate and composited it into the scene.

#32 Flag: I was lucky to be photographing the flag on a windy day with the sun going down.

#33 Gazebo: Actually in their yard, I just wanted to show a small piece of it, which helps frame the portrait on the right side.

#34 Fireplace: Located up by the pool, I moved their fireplace so we could see it from this perspective.

#35 Fire: Of course there wasn’t a raging fire in their fireplace, so I added my own.

#36 Football Game: I hate black TV screens in my scenes, so I added a Dallas Cowboys football game on the screen.

#37 Candle Lights: I also hate unlit candles in my work, so I lit the candles sitting on the fireplace.

#38 Smoke: Fire makes smoke, so I added some smoke coming out of the top of the fireplace. Not sure that really happens.

#39 Bill’s Weiner: Bill was photographed without a Weiner in his tongs, so I added one for him.

#40 Weiner Flame: I thought it would be funny to add a flame to Bill’s Weiner, as if he were burning it.

#41 Chef Hat: The client mentioned having Bill in a chef’s hat, and because we didn’t have one during the Photo Session, I added one in Photoshop.

#42 Squirrel: I like adding extras into my scenes, so since the client has a ton of squirrels around their house, I thought I’d add one in.

#43 House Exterior: I photographed the house during the evening to get good lighting detail on the exterior.

#44 House Interior: I also photographed the house after it had gotten dark to get good lighting detail on the inside, then I blended all the house photos together.

#45 Trees: I added this tree in to frame the scene and to cover a wreath they had on the wall for Christmas.

#46 Trees: I added this tree in to frame the scene and to give separate between the fireplace and the house.

#47 Trees: I added this tree in to frame the scene and to add foreground.

#48 Trees: Again, I added this tree in to frame the scene and to add foreground.

#49 Tree Limb: I added the tree limb in to frame the top of the scene and add realism to the overall portrait.

#50 Squirrel: The client is always fighting the squirrels that are running across their roof, so I added that in for fun.

#51 Sky: Used a stock image I have of a sky.

#52 Boat Light: Not a fan of unlit lights, so I added a light to the boat.

#53 Dock Light: Another light I lit using Photoshop.

Some Photos I Used

To give you a better idea of how this Family Gathering Composite came together, here are some of the RAW photos I used right out of the camera.







That’s a Wrap

While the Family Gathering Composite presented a number of challenges, the biggest one being the Vertical format, I believe it turned out great, and looks great in their home.

What challenges do you think your Family Portrait will present?

Steve and Barbara love their portrait, and a few days after I delivered it to their home, I had another printed at Steve’s request for his office.

Have a question or comment? Contact Me, or leave it in the comments below…

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