Striking a deal to get the shot

Alex wasn’t interested in having his photo taken, so I needed a strategy to encourage him to cooperate. Happily, one of the tricks up my sleeve worked a treat, enabling me to get him involved and even capture this joyful portrait. I still don’t know what the official term for this leaping heal-kick is. I’ve always called it a ‘Dick Van Dyke’ as, along with his decidedly dubious Cockney accent, this is what I most remember him for. When I …

Newborn Portraits With No Kit And No Time

With all the time and kit in the world, it would be easy creating spectacular newborn portraits all the time. Back in the real world, there’s often a balance to be sought: what kit do you really need, versus what would be nice to have, and what can you realistically achieve in the time that you have? This was taken before I owned dedicated kit for photographing newborns. When it comes to equipment, it’s easy to feel like you can’t …

Aiming For The Lens

My high risk strategy for getting young James to look directly down my camera lens (and why safer alternatives are a good bet for engaging portraits, too) To get this shot, I challenged James to throw one of his marbles and land it inside my lens hood. He thought this was very funny and set about the task with enthusiasm. This gave me plenty of opportunities to capture the right moment just as a marble went airborne. I happily acknowledge …

Snoozing Newborns

Ah, newborns. You can’t ask them to pose or reason with them. They sleep when you don’t want them to, and wont sleep when you do want them to. Nevertheless, it’s magical when it all comes together. Here’s the stories behind two of my favourite newborn portraits. I’m not a newborn portrait specialist, but we do occasionally get new mums and dads contact our studio for photography sessions. Mostly I prefer to pose newborns with one or both of their …

Blue-Eyed Boy

A simple, one-light set-up, a narrow colour palette and a bit of silliness (to catch your subject’s eye) are all that you need for a child’s portrait like this one. While parents usually want to have pictures of their children looking happy, sometimes it’s the more serious expressions that capture the true nature of their sons and daughters. This youngster, Jack, was transfixed by my antics for a few seconds, enabling a shot with a gentle feel that shows off …

Turning Props Into Fresh Portrait Ideas

When Grace’s mum turned up at my studio with her daughter’s name in big fabric letters, an idea started to form… Follow my thought process and find out how I turned it into a reality. Grace is the daughter of one of the couples whose wedding I photographed previously, Amy and Jonny. When they came in, Amy mentioned she had brought some props but nothing quite prepared me for the soft, fabric letters spelling out her name! I’m not normally …

Searching For Giants

Making your shoots fun for your subjects is key to getting memorable portraits. This image was the final shot of the day and the result of a playful interaction. The shoot with George and his parents was over, and we were walking back to the studio. I had plenty of shots already, but then we passed a church with a huge door. An image formed in my mind. Note: to create the sense of height in the doors, I lay …

Kai With His Skateboard

Simple is often best. A patch of daylight on a simple brick wall is all I needed to create this portrait. Oh, and the coolest kid on the block as my subject. Kai is very cool, very photogenic and completely at ease in front of the camera. I’ve photographed him a few times, and knew how relaxed he would be during this shoot. I asked him to bring his skateboard, and loved how it was nearly as big as him! …

Getting Kids To Smile

Asking for smiles from young subjects doesn’t work. Instead, you need to set the right atmosphere, tune into the child’s personality and interact with them. Kids Creating Natural Smiles Energy Creating the Right Atmosphere Framing What happens when you tell a kid to smile for a photograph? At best they pull the corners of their mouth upwards in a pseudo-grin. At worst they find the whole exercise boring and refuse to comply. Equally, if you try and force the fun, …