It should be pretty clear to most people that my photographic hobby is taking pictures of pretty girls. I confess to the full truth of that, and make no apologies for it. I am fortunate to have the support and encouragement of a very artistic wife who makes it possible and, at times, even “forgivable” for me to indulge my hobby.
Over the July 10th weekend I had the pleasure of photographing two pretty blue-eyed girls. The first pretty blue-eyed girl was a little bitty jar full of personality – 4 year old Meredith. She is the daughter of one of my wife’s friends. I don’t normally photograph little kids, but Meredith was so much fun to work with. She was enthralled with the lights, laughed out loud every time the strobes popped, and loved showing me her funny faces.
A few things I have learned over the years about working with little kids:
- Keep parents away as much as possible. Parents tend to distract the kids, and sometimes even add unneeded stress. The photo session is between the photographer and the child.
- Accept that you won’t have much time to get The Shot. Kids don’t have the patience or tolerance that older subjects do. It is highly doubtful you’ll be able to do more than two wardrobe changes, or have the kid’s attention for more than 30 or 45 minutes.
- Let the kid play! Don’t try too hard to pose your subject. Put her in the frame, give her a suggestion, and then start shooting. The best child portraits I’ve gotten were when the child was making faces or just jumping around.
- The kid is in control. Forget the parents. Get on the floor and tell the child what you are going to do. Explain what the big lights are. Let her hold your camera (even let her take a picture of you!). Once you have gained the confidence and trust of the child you can start shooting, but she will get really bored. When that boredom hits, your shoot is over – no matter what Mom or Dad may want.
I have been inspired by the outdoor fashion images of my friend Stu Haluski, and decided to get out of the studio and take advantage of the open fields near my rural home/studio. I scouted the locations, settled on the concept and look I wanted, and set about finding a model for the shoot. This was a one-look shoot – very simple – pretty girl at sunset in a field. I wanted her to be sexy, soft, Southern.
I was thrilled when Kelly Noles replied to my casting call on Model Mayhem. She fit the look I wanted perfectly. She has classic curves, and a very pretty and photogenic face. I made a pretty stupid error when I booked her, however.
I wanted the soft golden glow of sunset and arranged to shoot with her around 6pm; unfortunately, the sun doesn’t really start setting until well after 7:30. Actual sunset doesn’t even occur until close to 9pm in the South at this time of the year. We made do. I set her up with the not-set-enough sun at her back, and I used my Nikon SB800 Speedlight with light stand and umbrella to fill in the shadows on her face.
After shooting in the hot sun for about 20 minutes, we headed over to the neighborhood Amos’s BBQ for a few more shots. The owner of Amos’s (not a guy named Amos) has given me permission to use his place whenever I need it. I would be foolish not to accept his invitation.
I put Kelly in the open shade of the front porch and used the aforementioned SB800 Speedlight to provide just a little bit of fill.
Don’t be afraid to use that Speedlight or flash. I do encourage you to learn how to take your flash off camera if possible, but even that isn’t completely necessary as long as you learn to control your light.