Family photography in Zurich: The story behind the shot…

Sep 12, 2012 | Family

Yesterday I posted this picture on Facebook to share with my friends and family. It got a really nice response and so I thought that it would be great to share it with my blog readers and also tell the tale behind the shot and a bit of the techy stuff…


So the image is of my brother, my sister-in-law and my nephew. They were visiting us in Zrich from Canada. I had wanted us to walk from our village of Staefa to Rapperswill, a beautiful town that we love to take guests to. The hill top walk provides great views of Lake Zurich and takes you through open farmland, vine yards and forrested areas, as well as past lots of lovely traditional Swiss buildings. Here’s a snapshot taken from another walk along the ridge…

A snapshot of the view from the ridge – on a sunnier day!!

As we reached the top of the hill it started to bucket it down with rain. We were not going to be blessed with the same blue skies as previous walks! We started to get pretty wet and took cover under some shelter offered by a building and assessed our options. The outlook was pretty bleak with horrible grey skies and poor visibility.  We were 20 mins walk from any form of public transport so decided we were destined to get wet either way! So we trooped on! My nephew had canvas converse trainers on so his Mum took them off so that they’d be dry later (notice in the picture he is only in his socks!)

After a while the rain eased off and a brighter sky emerged. As we walked down the slippery path (check out how shiny it is in the picture) I saw the arch of the trees creating a tunnel and the light streaming in. I saw in my head straight away the shot I wanted. I asked my brother if it was ok to get our nephew out of his buggy and take a picture.

My brother and his son are always playing rough-and-tumble and I swear my nephew spends half his life up in the air looking down on us – he loves it! So this shot is so representative of them.

I wanted to position them side on to the camera to see the lift and be able to see their faces, keeping them quite central to the arch created by the trees. But I also needed to ensure enough light would hit their faces. The key with the lighting was to get the right balance so that nothing was in absolute shadow and blocked out nor the lighter areas too bright and bleached out. We didn’t want any loss of detail. (Of course this is all natural light!)


I also took a silhouette version.I adjusted the exposure on the camera so that my brother and his son are in complete shadow. I personally find silhouettes, whilst quite graphic, can be a bit impersonal, as we can’t see any features of the people featured. So that helped me select the final image above.

More or less straight out of camera but shows the comparison of a full silhouette

It’s always hard to tell if everyone else is going to love the same shot as you but it’s so satisfying when they do! If I took a similar shot again I would change a few things, there’s always something to tweak and that’s part of the joy of photography! But I love this shot as it reminds me of a special time we all had together as well as showing the beauty of the place we live in. Hopefully it will also make a nice Christmas present for my family!!!