Posted tagged ‘children’

“The kids are alright”

February 24, 2011

In 1965 The Who had a song called, “The kids are alright”.  As a portrait photographer it’s great working with kids.  Until they are about 4 years old they’ll just do what they want to do.  It makes for exciting shoots, as I’m never sure of what they are going to do next.  It’s also fun working out the lighting, and sometimes it’s best to leave it simple and fairly broad.

Here are some examples from a recent shoot with two kids of different ages…

"Eyes only" by Derek Gale

This shot was taken with a single big softbox quite close to the little boy, which gave pretty even lighting.  He was looking up at his reflection in a curved mirror on the studio ceiling.  The mirror was put there for just this sort of shot.  His eyes said everything, so I didn’t need to show the rest of his face.

"Looking right" by Derek Gale

With this image the lighting is the same.  It was important to catch her great expression and smile without her looking at the camera.  A simple request for her to “Look at Mum and laugh”, gave the perfect balance of  spontaneity and control.  Her face is quite central, but that’s because I wanted to include her hair, which was falling nicely over her shoulders.

“Twirling hair” by Derek Gale

Here I’ve asked her to spin round so her hair was moving.  It usually takes a few tries to get a good shape, but we nailed it first time. It’s great the way her hair has wound round to the back of her head.  You can really see the energy she was putting into getting it right. 

"Cute expression" by Derek Gale

After the studio portraits we moved outside.  As the weather was kind, with soft overcast light, I managed to get some good outdoor images.  Using a wide aperture gave a good soft background, which allowed me to concentrate on his cute expression and eyes.

So yes, taking portraits of kids is great fun.  Don’t worry if you aren’t one, or don’t have any, I’m happy shooting adults too!

Cheers,

Derek                                       www.galephotography.co.uk

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A trip to deepest Surrey

September 9, 2010

For portrait photography most people come to our photographic studio in Oxfordshire.  However, on a recent family portrait shoot I travelled to deepest Surrey.  The shoot was for a family with three kids, and they were easy to work with; great fun, enthusiastic, and happy to be photographed. 

The family’s house had a verandah/porch with fabulous light. 

"Surrey 3" by Derek Gale

  The light in the verandah was mostly quite diffuse, but with a soft directionality in places.  This image of the older girl shows that to perfection.  I used a focal length of 75mm, equivalent to 112mm on a full-frame camera, which gives a very flattering look to portraits and helps throw the background out of focus. 

"Surrey 4" by Derek Gale

 I used the same location and camera settings for this portrait of the younger girl.  Her expression was great; not quite smiling, and not quite not smiling.  Because the image is a bit more complex, it works better in B&W rather than colour.  The choice between B&W and colour is always interesting, and there are definitely some images that work better in colour than B&W, and vice versa. 

"Surrey 2" by Derek Gale

 The youngest child, a boy, was very excited to be photographed, but here I’ve caught him in a quieter mood by the main support pillar of the verandah.  The garden beyond him gives good context, and frames his head nicely.  There was a roof light which lit him from directly above, and acted just like a hair light in the studio.  The crack in the pillar divides up the white area very effectively. 

"Surrey 5" by Derek Gale

 In this final image, I popped the kids down on to the doorstep into the house.  The unlit room behind them gave a good dark background, and the front door had a fabulous texture.  They were happily laughing and looking at each other, and the image really shows their relationship well.  I had to increase the ISO a bit to keep the shutter speed fast enough, as it had clouded over, and I didn’t want to use flash.  This is another image that works much better in B&W rather than colour. 

So, a successful photographic trip to the wilds of Surrey, to work with a really interesting family. 

To book your own portrait shoot ; family, couple or individual, just give me a call on 01793 783859. 

Cheers, 

Derek. 

www.galephotography.co.uk

An eccentric photographer.

April 29, 2010

I think that eccentric photography is a good thing! 

There are various meanings of the word “eccentric”, but let’s use the one that, according to Wikipedia, means “out of the centre”. 

It’s really easy to put the main subject of your images in the exact centre, as most of the time it’s how we see things.  When we look at a person or thing, we place them (especially their eyes) in the centre of our field of vision.   With portrait photography that’s not always the best way to get an interesting composition.

"The orange cup" by Gale Photography

In this natural light portrait, the strong lighting on the orange cup catches the eye, and the dark space above his head reinforces the fact that he’s small.  If the cup was central it would not be as strong an image.  The strongly directional light has given a lovely rim lighting to his head and body. 

"Abby off centre" by Gale Photography

In this image, shot in my portrait studio near Swindon, I’ve put the person well off to the right.  As we “read” images from left to right, our eyes reach the main subject last.  She is, in fact, acting like a “bookend”, which keeps our interest, because it stops our eyes from leaving the frame.  Her face is the lightest part of the image, and isn’t white because of the warm toning.

"Off centre boy" by Gale Photography

In this studio portrait, the boy’s eyes are the darkest part of the image, and the rest of the image is made of very pale tones.  Having his eyes so near the top of the frame, and on an angle, gives an interesting perspective.  His intense expression adds to that perspective.

"The red hat" by Gale Photography

Finally, this location fashion portrait was taken with off-camera flash, and bright sunlight shining through a hole in a wall.  The red hat is the strongest colour present and really holds the composition together.  The brightest point is very close to the top of the frame, but that doesn’t matter.

Remember to put your main subject off-centre, and you will get more interesting images.  Why not join me and become an eccentric photographer!

Off-centre composition is one of the subjects in my “The Creative Eye” photographic training workshop.

See you next time, 

Derek

www.galephotography.co.uk

Family fun!

March 25, 2010
Had a really fun family (Mum, Dad, 2 children &  their dog) for a studio portrait shoot recently.  The shoot was mostly in our studio in South Oxfordshire, as it was pretty cold outside – although the light outside was soft and flattering.

The children had loads of energy, and their daughter was especially good at jumping. 

"High jump" by Gale Photography

The curved background makes it hard to see where the floor ends and the wall begins, so it makes her look really high off the ground. 

Their son is very keen on badminton, and he had brought along his racquet and a shuttlecock to use as props for some action shots.  Here I’ve thrown the shuttlecock with one hand, whilst firing the camera with the other hand.  

"Badminton action" by Gale Photography

It was pure chance that in this shot the shuttlecock was right in front of his face, and between his eyes.  It has not been put on afterwards in Adobe Photoshop; sometimes you just get lucky! 

We also tried some more serious shots with the racquet. 

"Differential focus" by Gale Photography

Here I’ve set a wide lens aperture to use what’s called “differential focus” in a creative way.  The boy is nice and sharp against the dark background, whilst the racquet strings are well out of focus and give an attractive graduated pattern down the image. 

With this dark background image of the girl, I used simple lighting from one main light, and used her hair and hands to frame her face.  With the image converted to B&W, her expression made for a nice moody shot. 

"B&W moody portrait" by Gale Photography

Finally, when we were back outside, I couldn’t resist taking a portrait of their dog “Tigger”.  She was a real bundle of energy (like her namesake), but I managed to get her still enough to get a few shots. 

"Tigger" by Gale Photography

The dark background (a hedge in shadow) makes it look as if she’s been lit by flash, but it’s a natural light image.  Her alert expression is due to the fact she was being offered a treat to encourage her to sit still. 

As I said, it was a fun shoot (with lots of laughter), and they loved the images. 

If you would like to experience a shoot with Gale Photography for yourself  just get in touch to arrange the date! 

Cheers, 

Derek 

www.galephotography.co.uk 

I’m just a regular guy: Part 2

March 18, 2010

I mentioned in a previous post how much fun it was to photograph a family on a regular basis.  Here’s another example… 

A few years ago I photographed a couple of dogs for some clients, then their other dog, then their wedding photography (the clients not the dogs!), and then did a portrait shoot for their son’s first birthday.  Well, he was two years old recently, and we had the pleasure of another portrait shoot with him.  He was great to work with, with a real character developing. 

Child portraits by Gale Photography

"K at two 1" by Gale Photography

 

For the studio images I used a single large softbox off to camera right.  It gave a softly directional light which made for good light and shadow on the child’s face.  I made sure I was at the child’s eye level for most of the images, as it made him more important in the frame. 

"K at two 2" by Gale Photography

 

Here, I’ve got just a little bit below his eye level.  It gives an unusual viewpoint, because we are used to being higher than a child.  He’s turned a bit more towards the softbox, which has given a more even light coverage with fewer shadows. 

In this last studio image he’s happily playing with his toy, and the look of concentration on his face is super.  

"K at two 3" by Gale Photography

 

His head and arms make a strong triangular composition.  In this image I’ve chosen to keep some colour, unlike the other images that I’ve converted to black and white.   The low colour saturation makes the image have an attractive mood. 

After the studio portrait session, we went outside for some location portraits.  I wanted to get a shot of him on some steps but he didn’t want to sit there.  I tried a classic bit of “reverse psychology”, and told him that he mustn’t sit on the steps.  It worked perfectly; he immediately sat there! 

"K at two 4" by Gale Photography

 

The expression on his face was perfect.  He thought he’d been mischievous, and I got a great shot. 

All in all it was an excellent portrait session, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s. 

Cheers, 

Derek 

www.galephotography.co.uk

Space is ace.

November 19, 2009

I love filling the frame in my portrait images.  I reckon that as I’ve paid for all those pixels I might as well use them all.  However, there are times when you get a better image by leaving empty space in the frame. 

Take this studio portrait of a child for example.  I really liked the expression on his face, and the tilt of his head to the right, and thought that placing him in the left-hand side of the frame made for an interesting composition. 

"Portrait looking left" by Gale Photography

"Portrait looking left" by Gale Photography

With this environmental portrait, the child’s head is in a similar place, with a similar amount of empty space, but the different expression and close-up treatment makes for a completely different effect.  The dark area of background is balanced by the light area of his face.

"Portrait looking out" by Gale Photography

"Portrait looking out" by Gale Photography

Finally, with this outdoor portrait lit by studio flash, the relationship between the child in the foreground and the darker plants in the background was important.  I placed him well down in the frame to allow us to see past him to the mysterious background.

"Portrait looking straight out" by Gale Photography

"Portrait looking straight out" by Gale Photography

This use of off-centre composition, and creative use of space, is covered in our photographic training course “The Creative Eye”.  You can find details at www.lifestylephotos.co.uk

I’m just a regular guy.

July 1, 2009

It’s great to be a family’s regular portrait photographer. 

I recently photographed one of our clients’ third child.  I photographed her first child in 2004, and we had a great time.  He was about 19 months old and was interested in everything.  At one point he fell into our – very shallow, and safe – stream.  This was in the days of film, and it’s been fascinating looking back at those images, and remembering how different the process was.

Child-A-for-blog-Jul-09

On the day I shot a mixture of studio and location images, using both grainy B&W and colour film.  The image above was shot with him on the studio steps in some lovely soft light.

Almost exactly two years later I photographed his brother at about the same age.  Mum wanted images of the second child on his own so she would have a great record of the two boys at the same age.  By now I was shooting digitally, and so the B&W images are converted from the original colour images.  He was very energetic with a great grin, and spent a long time going up and down the three steps in our garden, obviously very pleased with himself for being able to do it without assistance.

Child-B-for-blog-Jul-09

This image of him is against a simple black background in the studio, and I think, really brought out his character.

Recently, as mentioned above, to complete the set of images of the children at the same age, our client brought along her third child for his shoot.  He was happy spending time playing with his Mum’s mobile phone, as well as being extremely interested in our patio gravel.  The image below shows him on the same steps as the first image, and also has the lovely soft light.

Child-T-for-blog-Jul-09

It was really interesting looking at the similarities, and differences between the children.  They looked quite alike but their different characters came through at each shoot.  It’s capturing these differences in character that makes photographing people so endlessly fascinating.

Mum loved the images from all three shoots, and there’s now a gallery of large images on the kitchen wall.