No Matter What They Say… It’s Never Easy!


by Gregory Daniel
Texas School Instructor

Have you ever said these words…  “Did it really have to be that difficult?” Or have you declared, “Thank goodness we have Photoshop!”  How about, “Did this client actually have a clothing consultation?”  So here is the kicker… Have you had these same conversations with yourself after pulling off your yearly personal family portrait?

Each year our family looks forward to the “family portrait event.”  We actually enjoy planning this tradition of getting together at a special and meaningful location to create a piece worthy of our mantel or footprint wall, not to mention all the Christmas cards we mail.  Most of the time, this tried and true “self-created” tradition is pulled off with precision, ease and little to no stress.  This year was extra special with the arrival of our newest member, Evie Rose.  As a side note we are “Lollie and Popster” or “LolliePop” for short.  I digress. The location was an easy selection since we were all going to be at our family cabin in North Georgia in late October which would be maximum fall leaf timing.

Professionals know that planning is a key to success.  The following are the list of variables and their solutions.

Layering Images – Since these are always created without assistance I knew using a tripod was going to be a key for capturing multiple images and replacing individuals easily in post-production.

Wrong Time of Day – Our son-in-law is over global expansion and had taken over the loft while on critical calls from 5am to midnight each day.  He had a 15 minute window at 7am which, in the mountains, means DARK!  I decided we would just need to create our own light… and a lot of it.  I used a bare bulb Godox AD300 wrapped with Rosco gel to light up the leaves in the background.  A Godox V1 with a soft dome was placed just behind the group to emulate sunlight riming us. The main light was a Godox AD300 equipped with a SW 85 softbox feathered to help even out the foreground lighting.

Different Schedules – Ryan and Evie Rose were on two different schedules so we broke the capture up into 4 steps.  First capture was with Ryan and Ashley which would set the left base.  Pinecones were placed on the ground to represent where everyone would stand.  Lesa stood on the right side and Ashley and Ryan stood on the left so I could get a good perspective where to place the camera and leave it till the last capture.  Second capture was of Lesa and me, using a CamRanger and my phone as a trigger. Third capture was Kyla Renee and Bobby (Evie Rose was a place holder at this time).

Attention was specific to their positioning and expression as it would harmonize with the group.  Fourth capture was last and the most complex!  At this point, I was able to be off the tripod and have two lively assistants to get Evie Roses’s attention.  The antics of this capture was the most fun and memorable of the event!

Now all that was left was stacking the layers and dropping in each capture into the base scene.  Painting the image in Corel and adding a little sunlight in the back provided just the perfect piece for above our mantel and lasting memory of a great family retreat at our cabin.

Gregory and Lesa Daniel will be teaching a class on “Taking Your Studio to the Next Level” at Texas School ‘21 in April. Greg combines an incredible business mind with wonderful artistry and Lesa is a natural “people person” who genuinely cares for all her clients. Together, they have risen above the competition by offering high-end portrait paintings that have totally gilded their average sales. Learn more about their class at