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Child Portrait Photography: Inspiration & Advice

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  #1  
Old 01-15-2009, 12:36 PM
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igot2pman igot2pman is offline
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Child Portrait Photography: Inspiration & Advice

Tomorrow Next Friday I shoot a 1 year old clients child (boy), but I have never shoot portraitures of children. Not charging much so it does not have to be AMAZING. But I do want to see this as a learning experience and wish to do a good job. Even if its late, still post as I and others would still learn from it.

I ask if anyone knows any good resources for information, pictures, or tips your willing to share. Please post them. I will post anything I find of interest for future people to see.

The clients previous pictures were soft ("dreamy") style. She said she would like to stay that rout but it douse not have to be that way.

A little about have I have to work with:
- Big rocking chair
- 2 four foot roman style pilers
- Wood table and small model ship (used one of my own child portraits)
- 2 strobes w/shoot through umbrellas, and 2 speed lights
- 3 muslins (white, black, and blue-tan blotch)
- From 10-500mm in lenses, D300
- Nikon soft filters 1 and 2


Thanks for your help,
-Keven

Last edited by igot2pman; 01-15-2009 at 06:12 PM. Reason: photo shoot got pushed back a week.
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Old 01-15-2009, 02:57 PM
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Vernon Vernon is offline
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Re: Child Portrait Photography: Insperation & Advi

My limited experience:

Give yourself time to set up, then relax into the picture taking with the child - they do not recognize your time schedules, etc.

If the child responds to you, great! Snap away and capture his expressions, antics, and any spur-of-the-moment pose you witness through the lens.

Where possible, zoom in a little, then allow mommy to assist (maybe) in coaxing interactions and reactions form the boy, all the while, bringing props into and out of the picture -- assuming you are working in a particular room, etc.

Bracket your shots, to allow yourself possible choices of slight over/under exposure that may help bring about a more desirable picture.
Somewhat subdued/non-direction light (i.e.: no direct flash - maybe bounced flash) will give you a little more depth to your images.

Be generous in your picture taking - it's been my experience that right after I decided I have taken the last picture the child subject suddenly flashes you their best pose/expression/smile. So, when you believe you are done, take one more!

It is likely you already know this and more; others here will assuredly provide you far more advice.
Still, I hope this helps...
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Old 01-15-2009, 05:42 PM
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igot2pman igot2pman is offline
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Re: Child Portrait Photography: Insperation & Advi

Hello Vernon,

Good advice and thank you for the reply. I really like the idea of a bounce flash. I’m definitely going to try that. I am probably going to be shooting most of it indoor but im thinking about doing some outdoor shoots.

The down side is that I do not own strobe light meter (I normaly shoot outdoor), so tonight and tomorrow morning I am going to be dialing in the exposure. I am also going to see if I can sync the two strobes with my two speed lights.

Thanks,
-Keven

Last edited by igot2pman; 01-15-2009 at 11:39 PM.
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Old 01-15-2009, 08:51 PM
Mike Mike is offline
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Re: Child Portrait Photography: Insperation & Advi

Quote:
Originally Posted by igot2pman View Post
Tomorrow Next Friday I shoot a 1 year old clients child (boy), but I have never shoot portraitures of children. Not charging much so it does not have to be AMAZING. But I do want to see this as a learning experience and wish to do a good job. Even if its late, still post as I and others would still learn from it.
I am trying to understand your mind here.

You have presented yourself to a paying customer as a professional photographer that can create a portrait of their child, even though you have never taken a child's portrait.

You will accept a low quality portrait as your final output and justify that by not charging too much for it.

Your customer not only gets a low quality portrait but gets to pay for your learning experience. Do they know that they are getting "double" their money's worth?

What you have posted leads me to believe that you are either highly unethical or trying to perpetuate an outright fraud.

I think that you need to back out of this now. You run a big risk of becoming known as the photographer who cannot do the job. Your reputation is something that you need to guard. Unhappy customers talking about how much they paid and how bad the portraits where is not something you want. And no matter how cheap the price is, if they do not like the quality, the price is too high. Even if it was free, if they do not like them, then they will complain about all the time they wasted with you.

I think that you need to set up some sessions, with the parents knowing in advance that these are learning sessions for you and that there will be no charge for the session and you will trade some prints or files for their time, and learn a bit about what you are trying to do. Photographing small children is an art form that not all are able to do. You should get some practice sessions in to see if you can do it.
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Old 01-15-2009, 09:51 PM
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igot2pman igot2pman is offline
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Re: Child Portrait Photography: Insperation & Advi

Hello Mike,

Very interesting response and I am glad to answer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike View Post
You have presented yourself to a paying customer as a professional photographer that can create a portrait of their child, even though you have never taken a child's portrait.
I never claimed to be a professional, but I am very good (not perfect) at what I do. Can I do a good portrait? Yes. I consider myself an (self) educated user of photographic equipment with pro potential.

I have done this families Christmas pictures before, of which was a 200 picture album. They are aware that I have never shot children's portraits. But they trust in my abilities, and I am confident in them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike View Post
You will accept a low quality portrait as your final output and justify that by not charging too much for it.
I do not put out low quality. If I can’t put my name on it, it will not get printed. Amazing to me is something that is beyond normal and makes you say WOW or how did they do that?. Good to me is normal. My goal is for the person viewing the picture to say these are good pictures.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike View Post
What you have posted leads me to believe that you are either highly unethical or trying to perpetuate an outright fraud.
Unethical? I’m sorry for not fully explaining the situation. I could write pages to explain the full story but who would read it. I have not deceived anyone.

Hope this answers everything,
-Keven

Last edited by igot2pman; 01-17-2009 at 06:02 PM.
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  #6  
Old 01-15-2009, 11:26 PM
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igot2pman igot2pman is offline
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Re: Child Portrait Photography: Insperation & Advi

Mike,

You sound very insightful, and as you have been here since 2001, you obviously have been doing this for a while. Maybe you could possibly share some of that intellectual wealth on the topic.

----------------------------------

To all,

I know how to take a photograph; I am more looking for insight on how to take it one step further. Something that can only be found through experience. Maybe even some lost old school technique.

Examples:
Sports: Having the subject in a lean and with bent joints or slightly slow shutter speed to blur moving parts.
Cars: Panning with slow shutter speed with the car to blur the background and road.
Old school: FL-D filter will turn a sunset purple.

-Keven

Last edited by igot2pman; 01-16-2009 at 12:11 AM.
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  #7  
Old 01-16-2009, 11:50 AM
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igot2pman igot2pman is offline
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Re: Child Portrait Photography: Insperation & Advi

Very good
Photo References:

Martha Abelson Photography
http://mabelsonphoto.com/blog/

Linnea Lenkus Photo Studio
http://www.linnealenkus.com/children.html

Will add more here as I find them

-Keven

Last edited by igot2pman; 01-19-2009 at 07:13 PM.
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  #8  
Old 01-16-2009, 12:12 PM
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Gobsmacked Gobsmacked is offline
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Re: Child Portrait Photography: Insperation & Advi

I wouldn't worry too much about props . Try to make a game of it , shoot at their level so that you are not looking down on them . Follow Vernon's advice .
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Old 01-16-2009, 12:37 PM
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igot2pman igot2pman is offline
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Re: Child Portrait Photography: Insperation & Advi

Gobsmacked,

Shooting on their level is most definitely a plus and a must (most the time). Would you recommend the photographer to sit (kneel, lay) or raise the child up on a table. Or would that be too risky with a 1 year old. What are your thoughts?

The mother is bringing lots of toys and im planning on using them to possibly frame or catch reflections off of. He loves his FAKE cell phone and im going to try and get some good ones from that too.

Thanks,
-Keven
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Old 01-16-2009, 03:39 PM
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igot2pman igot2pman is offline
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Re: Child Portrait Photography: Insperation & Advi

Composition

I have knottiest a few things in children’s photos:
  1. Close head shots
  2. Full length body
  3. laying down

I have also seen some good photos at a park where there was other kids running around. Basically you have to just isolate the child and blur the rest using a high aperture (F/2.8 and below). The silhouette of the blurred play area is fine as long as you can realize it’s a play area.

Will add more here as I find them

-Keven
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