I love studio photography. It gives me complete control over my lighting… all aspects of it, in fact! I’m in charge of how bright it is, how soft it is and what direction it’s coming from.
I use many different lighting set-ups, depending on the style of portrait I want to achieve. When I am photographing children in a studio, I use what I call a “lazy” lighting configuration. Below is a short description of this useful lighting set-up.
The thing about small children, especially toddlers, is that they rarely sit still! That makes pin-pointing your studio light almost an impossible task!
That’s when my favourite accessory comes into play – the giant 2m umbrella-box. I position it slightly to one side, just out of the camera view. I also place the biggest white reflector that I have on the opposite side to throw as much light as I can back into the shooting area.
Because of its large size, the light form the umbrella-box is spread out over a larger area, and the large reflector helps to soften shadows on the opposite side. All this gives my energetic little subjects more space to do whatever they do best – move around. All I have to do is to follow them with my camera and keep firing.
By the way, I also use exactly the same set up when I photograph larger groups of people. The light is equally spread, providing consistent soft lighting across the whole group.
Background treatment also plays a big role here. For me, high key in children and baby photography is a must! To create these “floating in the air” bright, happy images, all I do is illuminate the white background with my other two strobes, making them brighter than my main light by about two stops. This completely overexposes everything in the background, so there is no details whatsoever recorded by the camera.
Remember the old rule of portrait photography: always match your shooting height to the height of your subject? This cannot be truer when you work with children. Children are small in size. So you have to become small as well. This is why I spend most of my shoot crouching down, or kneeling, or simply laying on the floor.
And last (but not least) – the most important component in creating a successful image… – a smile! Have a parent, or your assistant, to stand behind you, talking, doing silly things, jumping – basically doing whatever it takes to create a positive reaction from the child. It will also help to keep his or her attention towards the camera, and not that big round thing which keeps flashing on a side (although some profile shots add a nice variety to the shoot).