Model Photo Shoot Pt. 2

Following on from the pregnancy photo shoot I did with my niece way back in September (2012), details of this can be found at http://julieharding.wordpress.com, during the Christmas holidays in December (2012) I had the opportunity to follow up with this and take photos of her and her then 3-month old son.  This time round though, things were very different.

As I had been in this situation before, I actually felt quiet relaxed about the planned shoot, especially as the location and subject matter would be exactly the same, and apart from the addition of the ‘little person’, I had the advantage of knowing what too expect from my both my model and my surroundings.  Even though I did not have that feeling of complete and utter dread in the pit of my stomach, I knew that I would have to revisit my literature on portrait photography, and also include some additional research into photographing very small children.

As before, I set about putting together a plan of action, in fact, from the day the original photo shoot was conducted, I had always known that this opportunity would arise, so I had been looking into poses etc. for some time.  So this exercise, coupled with further research into camera and lighting settings consumed me for the days building up to the event.

My first task was to conduct some research into possible posses.  Using Yahoo Images as my search engine, I found a few websites that pointed me in the right direction, and as I had been asked by members of the family to take some photos that included both the mother and baby, I found a couple of posses I really wanted to try out.

Mother and Baby

Mother and Baby

Neumann, J.  (2012) Jessica Neumann Photography, Mother and Baby [online image].  Available at: http://www.merelymothers.com/2012/03/14/introducing-the-mommy-entrepreneur-with-photo-session-giveaway/jessica-neumann-photography-mother-and-baby-5/ [accessed 14 January 2013]

This first posse is very clean and pure, although the baby in the photo is much smaller than the baby I would be photographing.  I liked the idea of having skin on skin contact between mother and child, but as we would be shooting in the winter, I was not sure if this would be achievable, and if not, I would try to incorporate this image into my body of work.

To My Mother on Women's Day

To My Mother on Women’s Day

Ramaswamy, S.R.  (2012) To my mother on women’s day [online image].  Available at: http://locomente.blogspot.kr/2012/03/to-my-mother-on-womens-day.html [accessed 14 january 2013]

The second image, or versions of it, have become quiet iconic in recent years and can be found in many different kinds of media.  Even though it is a popular pose, I think it is a nice concept and worth replicating in some form, as not only is it pleasing to look at, but also a good record for the parents to see how small their child once was.

Further images I used for inspiration have been posted into my scrapbook.

As I had purchased some books and magazines surrounding Portrait Photography and more specifically books dedicated to photographing children, I looked over these again to get some new ideas and to cement the information I had looked at before into my brain!

Some of the titles I read include:

The essential guide to Portraits: Everything you need to shoot stunning images with your digital camera (3rd ed)

The Art of Children’s Portrait Photography

The essential guide to Portrait Photography: Our best tips and tricks for success from The Digital Photography School

Children’s Portrait Photography Handbook – Techniques for Digital Photographers

Full credit for these titles is found at the end of this post.

Research this time round was much easier as I had already done the ground work a few months before, and the work I just completed for TAOP put me in good stead, but I would once again need to think about my camera settings, lighting conditions and what I really wanted to achieve from the photo shoot.

As before, I can up with the following:

CAMERA SETTINGS

  • Shutter Speed; Single Shot
  • Metering; Spot
  • Camera setting; Aperture Priority
  • Aperture; As wide as the camera and settings would allow
  • Focus; Single Point Auto Focus
  • ISO; to be governed on available light but will probably be quiet high

LIGHTING

  • Use natural light as much as possible (as close to the window as possible and pray for a sunny day)
  • Alternate light source; I know that both lamps and overhead lights are available
  • Flash?; I did not use a flash during the previous photo shoot, but I knew that I had the options of bouncing the flash off of the ceiling if necessary
  • Range of reflectors; during the last photo shoot I used a gold reflector most of the time, but I also had a silver and white one with me to use if I needed them

PROPS / POSITION

I had a few ideas surrounding props and positions for this photo-shoot, as mentioned above, and as we were getting close to Christmas, I knew there was a tree decorated in the apartment, so I wanted to try my hand at Bokeh, something I had not done before.  I also pulled together a bag of hats and novelties to keep the baby occupied, hand puppets would come in very handy!

One thing that stuck in my mind, and came up a few times during my research, is that when photographing very small babies, you will be very lucky to get an hour with them before they start getting fed up with being pulled around and mollycoddled – definitely something to be considered.

With kids, especially small children, you don’t have much time to work, so be sure your lights and background are roughly set before bringing the child into the studio or into the area where you’re going to make the photography.  You have about thirty minutes in which to work before the child gets tired or bored or both (Hurter).

I would not be able to follow this advice to the letter as I was not working in a studio with dedicated lighting or setups, but I was very aware that my time for this task could be very limited, so I needed to be alert to the situation at all time.

As before, I planned on using the following equipment:

A Tripod

50mm F1.4 Portrait Lens

28-300mm F3.5-5.5 FX Telephoto Lens

Flash

Silver / Gold / White Diffuser

THE PHOTO SHOOT

Unfortunately, the day of the photo shoot rose murky and wet, so it would be difficult relying on natural light for our shoot.  Our bonus here was that my nieces flat is small with white walls that generated lots of light.  This would really help, and as long as I kept my camera setting in check, everything should be fine.

When we arrived to our location, our model for the day was taking a nap, this gave me the opportunity to discuss my plans with his mum (over a cup of tea) and get myself set up.  Looking in on the little guy, I immediately saw a photo opportunity so grabbed my camera and began shooting.

My first photos were of the baby lying on a pillow, you can see from the highlights and shadows cast that a tungsten lamp was alight in the right of the frame.  This not only helped to create interesting light, but also blocked out the background detail and highlight prominent areas on the face.

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/13; Aperture F5.6; Focal Length 116mm; ISO 1600; Metering Pattern; White Balance Tungsten

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/13; Aperture F5.6; Focal Length 116mm; ISO 1600; Metering Pattern; White Balance Tungsten

Although I stood back, I zoomed in quiet tightly to take this shot, but if I had zoomed out a fraction more, I would have included the whole hand on the right making the image more complete, but I like that the rest of the body touches the edges of the frame and are out of shot.

The next photo is my favourite from the day

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/6; Aperture F5.6; Focal Length 190mm; ISO 1600; Metering Pattern; White Balance Tungsten

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/6; Aperture F5.6; Focal Length 190mm; ISO 1600; Metering Pattern; White Balance Tungsten

This photo is based around the images I had seen where the baby’s feet/hands were in focus and the rest of the image out of focus.  The light here really helps in this shot, especially the way it highlights the hand, which is placed perfectly central in the bottom third of the frame.  The light has also helped in brightening the linen and highlighting areas of the baby’s face.  It is really difficult for me to find fault with this shot, but I would be interested to know what others think.

As the baby woke, I started taking photos both from a distance and zoomed into the frame.

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/25; Aperture F5.6; Focal Length 150mm; ISO 3200; Metering Pattern; White Balance Tungsten

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/25; Aperture F5.6; Focal Length 150mm; ISO 3200; Metering Pattern; White Balance Tungsten

I like this shot and I have managed to achieve a close, natural crop within the camera’s frame.  The colour is a little too blue in this photo, due to the use of lamps and White Balance setting in the camera.  We were also using the silver reflector to try to bounce some light back into the room – it was now pouring rain outside.  I like the simple background, although the photo feels a little cold to me, perhaps a different colour would have changed this.

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/40; Aperture F3.8; Focal Length 35mm; ISO 3200; Metering Pattern; White Balance Tungsten

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/40; Aperture F3.8; Focal Length 35mm; ISO 3200; Metering Pattern; White Balance Tungsten

As baby started to wake up, he became more aware of what was going on around him, so he was happy to smile and be a little more flexible and you can really feel the connection between mother and child.  Unfortunately, the background is a little to busy and takes some of the attention away from the models.  Again, the WB is not right, so the image feels a little too cold.

Next is the same imaged, but it has been cropped to concentrates on the baby.

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/40; Aperture F3.8; Focal Length 35mm; ISO 3200; Metering Pattern; White Balance Tungsten

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/40; Aperture F3.8; Focal Length 35mm; ISO 3200; Metering Pattern; White Balance Tungsten

This is a great shot as it really highlights the baby’s character.  The background is still a little messy, but better than before, and in hindsight I would have cropped a fraction less on the right so that baby’s feet are complete.  If I had been more mindful at the time, I would have had the hand in the front of the frame removed as this is very prominent and a little distracting in the bottom third of the frame.

In the next image, baby is being comforted.

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/60; Aperture F5.6; Focal Length 300mm; ISO 3200; Metering Pattern; White Balance Tungsten

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/60; Aperture F5.6; Focal Length 300mm; ISO 3200; Metering Pattern; White Balance Tungsten

I like the way he is peering over the shoulder of his comforter and although it is a nice clear shot, what is he looking at?  Moreover, why is he being comforted? Maybe it would have been a better photo if there had been tears.

Next, we changed position and scenery, and some of the settings on the camera to get a warmer feel within the photos.

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/80; Aperture F5.3; Focal Length 112mm; ISO 3200; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Fine Weather

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/80; Aperture F5.3; Focal Length 112mm; ISO 3200; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Fine Weather

We laid baby on a nice furry rug and let him wriggle around a bit.  I changed the WB setting on my camera to Automatic and for this shot it chose to shoot in fine weather, which with the help of the gold diffuser has made the image much warmer – the colour of the background has probably helped here too.  To grab the baby’s attention we used a bright yellow glove puppet, which was sat just above my shoulder, this helped to get the eyes looking in my direction and the light shining at them has made his eyes come alive.  Again, I like the tight crop on this shot – in fact, this baby shoots really well up close.

Taking on the Christmas theme, we decided to put an elf hat on the baby to see his reaction.  There were some nice shots of him sitting up, but as he gradually lost balance, he slid into a lying position, concentrating and chatting away to his hands.

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/30; Aperture F5.6; Focal Length 300mm; ISO 3200; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Fine Weather

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/30; Aperture F5.6; Focal Length 300mm; ISO 3200; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Fine Weather

The thing that spoils this shot is the rug that covers the baby’s eye in the bottom right of the frame.  We used both the bedside lamp and the overhead light in this photo and using the gold reflector has helped to soften the edges of the image. The baby’s face, or more specifically his eyes, are well focused, and I love his expression and the total concentration he is giving his hands.

The next sequences of shots have been taken of mother and baby, whilst they were playing together.

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/25; Aperture F5.3; Focal Length 105mm; ISO 3200; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Unknown

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/25; Aperture F5.3; Focal Length 105mm; ISO 3200; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Unknown

Another favourite of the day, I like the way that both models are leaning in the same direction, highlighting their natural bond, and that the background of the shot is plain and simple.  The baby had now gotten used to the camera and as soon as he heard me focus, he would turn his head to look directly at me – a real bonus.  Even though I like this shot, there are a few things I could have done to make it better.  Firstly, the position of the mother’s hand is too high, and if it had been slightly lower, it would not distract attention from the baby’s face.  The mother’s face is a little too dark and the use of a gold reflector in the bottom left of the frame may have lightened this a little, although we used a silver reflector to the right of the models, which has produced an interesting shaft of light down the right side of the mothers face.

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/80; Aperture F5.6; Focal Length 135mm; ISO 3200; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Unknown

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/80; Aperture F5.6; Focal Length 135mm; ISO 3200; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Unknown

This photo is very tender and once again, I have used a gold reflector to achieve this.  It would have been nice for this shot to be skin-on-skin, but once I had started taking photos I almost forgot about all those posses I had looked at and thought about replicating.

The next photo in the sequence shows the bond between mother and child.

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/80; Aperture F5.3; Focal Length 100mm; ISO 3200; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Unknown

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/80; Aperture F5.3; Focal Length 100mm; ISO 3200; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Unknown

I have slightly cropped the next photo, bringing both mother and child tight into the frame.  The expression on each of their faces is perfect and the light has really highlighted the baby’s eyes.  Perhaps we should not have used the gold diffuser here as the mother’s face is a little shiny and taking this light source away may have rectified this.

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/50; Aperture F5; Focal Length 70mm; ISO 3200; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Unknown

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/50; Aperture F5; Focal Length 70mm; ISO 3200; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Unknown

The thing that really lets this shot down is the background, which would have been better just black and white, without the grey in the top right hand corner of the frame.  The best thing about this photo is the expression on baby’s face and the fact that he is looking directly at the camera.

Look at me Mummy, I can fly.

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/125; Aperture F4; Focal Length 40mm; ISO 3200; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Unknown

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/125; Aperture F4; Focal Length 40mm; ISO 3200; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Unknown

This pose was something the mother was keen to try out and it works, especially as the light is highlighting both models face, but again the background of the image lets it down.  It would also have been nicer if the baby had been nappy-less!

And this is how we got the shot

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/160; Aperture F3.8; Focal Length 35mm; ISO 3200; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Unknown

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/160; Aperture F3.8; Focal Length 35mm; ISO 3200; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Unknown

For the last set of photos we moved into the living room where the Christmas tree was set up and in order to try out my Bokeh images, I changed to my 50mm lens.

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/25; Aperture F1.4; Focal Length 50mm; ISO 500; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Unknown

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/25; Aperture F1.4; Focal Length 50mm; ISO 500; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Unknown

We took quiet a few photos in front of the tree and with the tree in the background of our shots, but as I was using a prime lens at a very wide aperture, and concentrating my focus on the baby, everything around him became blurred very quickly, so most of my shots showed mum out of focus – although the Bokeh worked really well.

Baby was now getting very tired and fed-up – we had been taking photos for around an hour, so the books had been right!  It was time to start wrapping things up.

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/30; Aperture F1.4; Focal Length 50mm; ISO 500; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Unknown

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/30; Aperture F1.4; Focal Length 50mm; ISO 500; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Unknown

One of the last images I took of mother and baby.  A really nice photo that looks very natural and does not feel posed at all.  The only thing that is out of place is the square of bright light in the top right hand corner of the frame – the kitchen window.

Being a model is so difficult …

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/8; Aperture F5.6; Focal Length 50mm; ISO 500; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Unknown

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/8; Aperture F5.6; Focal Length 50mm; ISO 500; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Unknown

So, my second model photo shoot has been conducted, and I am really getting into this now and find that I quiet enjoy taking photos under these conditions, which is a real turn around for me as I never used to like taking photos of people at all.  Although that said, the subjects of these shoots hold a special bond to me and I might feel differently taking photos of others under ‘posed’ conditions.

I got into the swing of things much faster this time round, but as said, I was very comfortable with the subject matter and was able to use this to my advantage by making everyone feel at ease, I even let my niece take some photos of me with the baby!

The biggest issue I still find with my photos is background noise, and once again, I have let myself down by not being mindful of what can be seen within the frame.  One of the most important things in portrait photography is the background, as you do not want it to distract from the model, which is the case in some of my photos.    I also need to start thinking about staging, as in some shots, a slight move to the right or changing the models position could have made a vast improvement to the final images.  However, these things come with practice, so I just need to find more time to practice.

I have included these final two photo’s as they have been taken to represent four generations within one family; mother, son, granddaughter and great-grandson.

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/20; Aperture F4.2; Focal Length 44mm; ISO 6400; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Unknown

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/20; Aperture F4.2; Focal Length 44mm; ISO 6400; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Unknown

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/25; Aperture F4; Focal Length 36mm; ISO 6400; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Unknown

Auto Exposure; Aperture Priority; Shutter Speed 1/25; Aperture F4; Focal Length 36mm; ISO 6400; Metering Pattern; Auto White Balance Unknown

At a party on New Year’s Eve, I was put on the spot to take some family photos.  Not having much time to think about staging, I got the group to sit on the stairs, my thought behind this was to give height to the photos and to make it easier to fill the frame.  I shut the doors and turned off every light, except for the one overhead, which became a low voltage LED light source.

As the space was now very dark, I ramped up the ISO to the highest setting on my camera, enabling me to shoot a fairly fast (if I leaned on the wall).  Although, doing this has made the images a little grainy, and in some instances look blurred, but as these photos were supposed to relaxed and not really posed for photos, I do actually like the effect.

To take out the background, which was very messy and included handrails and doors, I have cropped these two photos quiet tightly making the group large within the frame.  Although the first image is very nice, I really like the second one as it has a natural feeling to it, with mother and son laughing at something I had said to get them to relax.

Would these have been better taken in a studio under pristine lighting conditions, probably, but these photos have a natural feel to them and the love and warmth of the family unit can really be felt when you look at these images.

Source:

Reference:

Rowse, D., et al (2012) The essential guide to Portrait Photography: Our best tips and tricks for success from Digital Photography School [eBook].  Available to download from: <www.digital-photography-school.com>.

Hurter, B.  (2010) Children’s Portrait Photography Handbook – Techniques for Digital Photographers.  2nd ed.  Amherst Media, Inc.  Buffalo

Lackey, T.  (2009) The Art of Children’s Portrait Photography.  Amherst Media, Inc.  Buffalo

Digital SLR Photography.  (2012) The Essential Guide to Portraits: Everything you need to shoot stunning image with your Digital Camera.  3rd ed.  Dennis Publishing Ltd.  London

Neumann, J.  (2012) Jessica Neumann Photography, Mother and Baby [online image].  Available at: http://www.merelymothers.com/2012/03/14/introducing-the-mommy-entrepreneur-with-photo-session-giveaway/jessica-neumann-photography-mother-and-baby-5/ [accessed 14 January 2013]

Ramaswamy, S.R.  (2012) To my mother on women’s day [online image].  Available at: http://locomente.blogspot.kr/2012/03/to-my-mother-on-womens-day.html [accessed 14 january 2013]

Bibliography:

London Photographer | Graham Baker Photography LSWPP QGPP QGWP | South East Bexley Kent

http://www.ehow.com/how_2031866_use-bokeh-photography-technique.html

http://www.thephotoargus.com/inspiration/40-beautiful-examples-of-bokeh-photography/

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