Children studio props
Children studio props had been used for ages by photographers. We all know that. But how do you find those cool item around and when the children will be actually happy to pose for you in them? It all starts with the age of the little ones. For example for the current project with our children we had an idea to use couple different props which we bought in a local store. Vintage suitcase for traveling, old fashion boutique looking piano seater and gigantic oversized sawing kit with cute design.
The suitcase was for Joshua. He is almost 11 months right now but he does not walk yet. Well, being honest he is such a cute big guy that he outgrew our 2.5 year old daughter Sofia with his weight.
The reason why we wanted a box style prop for him is his age. If we tried to put Sofia into it guess what, she would have been jumping in and out of it and the shoot would be over in 5 minutes. This guy was simply happy in it. He could hold himself, he could bite on it, play drums on the sides, he was simply happy.
To keep him busy, Maria was singing with him Wheels on the bus go around and around and around… you get the idea yeah..? So the boy went nuts, and it was so catchy even I had fun with it. Maria was positioned to my right so his face could be well visible and the light from my strobe with a white umbrella could reach his eyes. I used only one light to his right and the left fill in was taken care of by window light from our north facing window. Simple and effective for quick set up and great skin 3D effect on babies
So what do you think for how long would he stayed inside that box? 5 minutes? 10? Well I think it was around 10-15 minutes before he got bored and we had to switch to a new adventure.
And we did beacuse if you upset these little guys, it os not easy to get them to a good mood so quickly and you will see it in their eyes if they are happy or not
So the box had to go, and for a change we pulled out a blanket. You should see his face when he could chew on it. Priceless. The trick with the kids around 1 year is to simply keep them busy with props which look good but at the same time they can do anything with it without being interrupted. Because it was hot outside he was wearing only a diaper and we posed the props around him so it was well covered from my point of view.
The lens choice was very simple, Nikon 85f1.8G on full frame camera which gave me nice compression and great close up focusing so I could interact with him even more. If I had used the 70-200 f2.8 VR II I would had to be way further to achieve same compression because the zoom lens has longer minimum focusing distance compare to prime lenses!
And because Maria was not around us anymore, I had to make sure I kept him busy so he rocked in that blanket like a movie star. Again if you watch the shadows on his hands only one light was used to create really soft looking skin tones and dimension in these shots. Window light was 1 stop lower so the nice fill light from it is not even visible on his body.
So when the time has come and the blanket did mean nothing to him we switched places with Sofia and JJ went for a coffee break so he did not wear out too quickly
Sofia is 2.5 year old and that means she needs more advanced props so she can feel like older sister. And because she is great in climbing and jumping this was the best choice for her. I let her do her stuff what she wanted and talked to her so she stopped thinking about my camera. She is like a princess and she already saw so many pictures while watching me retouching on my computers that she can pose herself even without thinking about it. It is natural for her.
Now with her, I had to work really fast. She is old enough to understand that daddy is trying to manipulate her to pose for him while playing so as soon as she gets bored with the prop the shooting is over and she goes back to her dolls. The shooting with her was strategically prepared and I was running shutter of 1/250 just to make sure she was not blurred if she suddenly moved, but I kept the aperture around 2-2.8 to isolate her from the brick wall behind her.
You can see how quickly she changed from playing to serious faces and then boring expressions. This is her favourite legs positions just like her grandma so it is really cute to see a little girl like her dreaming for a second or two and then she comes back to the reality and does some silly face for the camera like kids always do
If you do not use Nikon 85 f1.8G then try it and you will soon find out that its power for great portrait bokeh is when you are shooting with it from higher position towards ground like in this case. The way the eyes stays sharp and the rest of the body just melts away is amazing. I had a chance to work with Nikon 85 f1.4G and I can honestly tell there is no big difference between these two lenses and this effect. Just the extra 2/3 of light which means you can run lower ISO with it but other then that I love this lens for what it does with portraits.
Same for this shot of Joshua, when he was again back playing on the floor, just his eyes are in focus the rest is just butter effect 3D pictures just like that.
The whole set up of the scene with one light stand, flash, umbrella, took less then 10 minutes to do. If you think children studio photography requires pro-foto lights and other expensive options you are wrong. You can do this at home and get really nice results in minutes if you know how to set up your camera and control the light around you.
And your reward? For me it was smile and faces of our children, and time spent with them doing something I really like and all of us were laughing and fooling around for an hour or so.
The second part with the maxi gigantic sewing kit is coming soon :). Thank you for stoping by and if interested book our workshop or a private one on one lesson where you can learn how this can be done without breaking your bank account.