A few days ago I realized that I didn’t have any really good, simple portraits of our daughter. I had several more elaborate setups that I really like but nothing that focused on just her and nothing else.
So that’s what I set out to shoot; something very simple and clean with complete focus on just the little girl. I decided on doing really tight headshots to capture that face that just keeps getting cuter every day. The second decision I made was to go with black and white. By stripping away all colour I feel the shots become more timeless and you also remove another distraction. The only thing left to decide was how to light it.
Actually the light wasn’t really a difficult decision either. I knew early on that I wanted a white background to separate the subject completely and the key light was all about simplicity. One reason to keep the light simple was, again, to avoid distractions – another reason was that this little girl is impossible to pose so I needed something that would keep her lit nicely even if she moved around a bit.
Technical details: the background is a YN560 on a white bed sheet, just blast it with a wide spread. Key light is a LP160 in softbox, boomed a bit in front and above for a nice symmetrical light that still provides some shadows and shape. I shot this with a 85mm lens from behind and under the softbox in order to keep things compressed so I didn’t have to worry about lighting a huge background. In hindsight I think I could have used a smaller aperture to keep more in focus but at least the softness of the back hair doesn’t completely ruin the shot, it just could have been better. Some of you may also be interested to know that I used a combination of Lightroom and Topaz adjust to edit these shots. The effect added in Topaz is very subtle but definitely worth while if you compare it to the original.
I have to say that I’m very happy with the results this time around, I think they’re the best portraits we have of the little muppet and one of them will definitely go on the wall in the living room. As usual she wasn’t the easiest to shoot but with some luck I got a few cute ones that show off her personality in a good way. And there’s a lot of personality in that small body. She’s now learning to speak, a bit, when she feels like it. Mostly she uses her own language though and she has some favourite expressions, one of the newest being pa-pam. She exclaims this whenever she’s upset about something, like when the TV shuts down by itself and she thinks it need disciplining. Often it’s also accompanied by her hitting her hands together and a scowling look.
She’s also a quite bossy little girl and I think I know where she gets that from. If we try to watch a movie she’ll come and grab a finger and drag us away to the bedroom to play with her – which is cute but makes watching a movie in a coherent manner rather impossible. Speaking of play, she’s showing more interest in using her toys in other ways than banging them on things now (even though she still does her fair share of banging), especially if we show her how to stack things and stuff like that. Usually she’s more interested in destroying what we build though, and then she gives us the pieces so we can rebuild it again. No idea what she got that from…
I won’t bore you with too many tales of my daughter’s adventures, I know most of you come here for the photography. Anyways, I hope you like the shots, I know I do, and I’ll see you back here next week for some more discussion.