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 his big blue eyes.

Lighting set-up

This image is shot with just one light: a 6-foot Octa. There’s a white paper background behind Jack, and Jack was wearing white, too. I knew that if I controlled the lighting, the background would render as a light grey, just a little bit darker than Jack’s clothing.

The white walls of the studio help reduce the contrast and, along with the white paper that Jack is sitting on, create the wonderful lighting quality on his face and in his eyes.

Sweet spot

This was taken during that sweet spot when an infant is old and strong enough to sit up unaided, but hasn’t yet mastered walking. Kids this age are perfect – they don’t run away! In case you think it’s easy though, I also have lots of outtakes of him crawling around the studio at a rate of knots you wouldn’t believe!

I was lucky to attract Jack’s curious gaze for this shot. I can’t remember what I was doing – probably messing around – but whatever I did it was enough to get his attention, resulting in this portrait with his eyes looking straight down my lens.

Camera Settings

  • Focal length: 140mm
  • Aperture: f/9.5
  • Shutter speed: 1/90 sec
  • ISO: 140