There are few things more difficult and frustrating to shoot than kids, especially in the really young ages. You’ve heard me lament this fact on many occasions when I’ve desperately tried to get a decent shot of our little one while precariously balancing on the brink of madness. So naturally I had to subject myself once more to this stressful situation when I had some time alone with the little gremlin the other week.
What I had in mind was a profile shot with a soft feeling, since that wasn’t something I had shot of her before. For the light I decided to use a technique that I’ve described before where I have a LP160 in a sofbox and fire it through a Lastolite trigrip. This creates an additional layer of diffusion for the light and gets us a very nice and soft light without any hotspots. The soft light is obviously the main reason for using this setup but another reason is that it provides the biggest light source I can get with my current gear. A big light source means that my subject can move around a bit and still be nicely lit, which comes in very handy when those tiny legs just can’t stay in one place anymore.
One thing to consider when double diffusing the light like this is that it eats power. However, in this situation the light is so close that it never becomes an issue. I can’t remember for certain but I think I was at 1/4 power, certainly no more than 1/2.
Before our photo shoot we had taken a bath together (which she loves) and I made sure to wash her hair (which she really hates) since it’s always very nice and fluffy when it’s newly washed – it kind of makes her head look a couple of sizes too big. Once the hair was dry and combed it was time for the big challenge, posing. This is where things usually starts to fall apart and this time I didn’t even have my wife to assist me. However, I had a plan and it worked surprisingly well.
Lately my wife has been obsessing a bit about her weight (she hates me for being able to eat whatever I want without gaining any weight) so she spends a lot of time on the scale. That means that the little one also likes to stand on the scale since she always wants to do whatever we’re doing. So I placed the scale where I wanted her to stand and she immediately ran over to stand on it.
The next problem was to get her to look in the right direction. As you can see in the second shot the light doesn’t work quite as well when she’s looking at the camera, though the angle really shows off her fluffy hair. I knew that would be the case though, my aim was a profile shot so the light was set up with that in mind. For a normal portrait I would have set the light differently. Anyways, what I did was to put our laptop with her favourite show (Pocoyo) running to the side I wanted her to face. It worked brilliantly and I got several shots that worked, all I needed to do was pick the best one.
The shot at the top is now one of my absolute favourite portraits of her, I could look at that face for hours. There’s very little post processing done, what you see is almost what came out from the camera. I love it when you start editing a shot and quickly realize that you really don’t need to do much, the shot just works the way it is. Now go shoot your own little beasts and let me know what methods you use to subdue them.