KelbyOne Portrait Conference with Platyball Elite

Words by: Gilmar Smith 
Edited by: Eryka Bagwell

Last October, I had the honor of teaching at KelbyOne's Portrait Photography Conference. It was a great opportunity for me to share how I use my new Platyball Elite (in Gilmar Smith Red) with the world!

I did a fishing-themed family session in one of my classes about Creative Family Portraiture. My subjects were a father and his three beautiful (and really active) daughters. It was a perfect example of how valuable time is and why you always need a plan in conjunction with a great workflow when working with children.

Family photography sessions are usually very stressful for parents. They want everything to look perfect. They spend time planning and buying the perfect outfits and they really stress about how the kids will behave on set. Our job as photographers is to make this process fun and enjoyable for everyone involved. That will also help ensure that our clients will keep coming back for more.

In order to make sure that your sessions run smoothly, here are a few valuable steps you should take into consideration next time you work with families:

Be ready!

Build your set, arrange your props, and test your light and camera settings before your clients arrive.

Work fast!

Kids' attention span is short, especially when it comes to pictures. So, put your clown shoes on, make it super fun and fast; if you don't, there will probably be a few long faces.

Shoot a lot!

I always make sure to get as many pictures as possible. You don't want to miss anything when working with kids, everything happens so fast, and if you miss an expression, there is no instant replay!

Use camera support!

Sometimes, if the photography gods are in your favor, you will get a perfect shot, with everyone looking at the camera, smiling with their best pose. Still, most of the time (when you're photographing groups), you will find yourself making a few tweaks, such as swapping heads and limbs and even fixing wardrobe like a total photoshop wizard.

That's why, whenever I'm photographing families and big groups of people (especially with kids), I make sure my camera is set on my Platyball Elite on a tripod or Platypod to make sure I'm getting plenty of images to choose from. That will allow me to direct everyone easily, work faster, get a variety of photos that I later can choose from, and build the perfect portrait with everyone's winner expression.

While you can still try this technique while shooting handheld, chances are, you're going to double your work making selections, matching angles, focal length, backgrounds, etc.

I always want to provide my clients with my best work. Below you can see an example of how I set my camera on my Platyball while redirecting and having fun with the kids and making sure I'm getting plenty of pictures while I engage with them on set.

Behind the scenes


I chose my favorite expression of every single member of the family put them together



Final shot (family portraits KelbyOne)