My resolution for 2012 was for this to be the year where I finally put some of my photos on the walls of our home. I’ve made a good start and if you come and visit me you’ll see I have finally put up the family photos we had taken by the wonderful Rachel Durik of Savor Photography, made an acrylic tryptic of the Japanese Anemone I shot in my Mum’s garden and have a lovely big canvas collage of our 2011 Devon holiday at the bottom of our stairs. I’ve also purchased a little easel and have had a selection of my photos printed out as 12×8″ prints mounted on board, I keep these all on the easel and Theo changes them round most days.
One thing I noticed when I looked through the many hundred’s of photos I shot in 2011 was the lack of multiple great images from the same session. Having just a couple good images from a session is fine if you only want one image for a frame but when it comes to putting photos together in an album or collage having some consistency across a group of images works a lot better.
So with that in mind I decided for my next photo shoot I would aim to try and get a nice selection of images of Theo that would work well when displayed together.
I set up a mini studio in our bedroom as the room which tends to have the best light in the house. Like a lot of English homes this room is a little cramped and cluttered and this made me decide to use seamless paper as a way of creating a more ‘professional’ background. My space was still too small to be ideal, really only the width of the double bed where Theo would sit and then an extra two feet gap where I would sit with my camera. Theo would also be facing directly towards the window, great for creating nice catch lights in his eyes and even light on his face but wouldn’t work as a lighting set up that allowed for shadows and more depth to the image.
That all said I thought I would have a go, Theo was happy to play model and a rainy weekend day meant we were stuck in the house.
The first problem I encountered was just as I suspected, it really was a very cramped space! Thank goodness I had selected my 50mm lens which is my original lens and still my favourite in low light situations. I shot at f2.2 which is the lowest I find I can shoot at with a moving subject and consistently get both eyes in sharp focus, I also selected a fairly fast shutter speed of 1/250 as that boy of mine can move and this led to an ISO of 800. One of the tricks I have learned when photographing children is to make the whole process fun and to find ways to keep them interested. Often with Theo I’ll put on some music and let him bounce around to the tune whilst I grab my shots, or if we’re outside I’ll give him a little job to do and photograph that. But in this mini studio our lack of space meant this normal approach just didn’t work as Theo kept moving outside of the frame and so back to the drawing board.
This photo gives you an idea of my set up and shows just how little space we had to play with.
In the end it was Theo who came up with the idea that saved the shoot, we’d been playing with a yellow plastic duck and Theo thought it would be funny to drop from standing to sitting, landing on the duck and making it squeak! I asked if he could drop down and cross his legs at the same time and this became a fun game that made us both laugh and let me get my shots. I waited and pressed my shutter at the split second Theo landed in a sitting position, it was a little tricky to keep my focus point on his eye but so worth doing as I just love the joy you can see in these photos.
These were my favourites from this part of the session;
Now I had the shots I wanted of my happy little lad it was time to move onto capturing his more thoughtful side and those big brown eyes. We slowed things down and just had a good Mum and boy chat. Rather than hold the camera to my face all the time I only occasionally raised it and took my shot and for the rest of the time I made sure Theo realised he was the focus of my attention and not the camera. And as I’m sure all Mum’s of 4 year olds will agree there is nothing they love more than having your total attention and I love hearing Theo’s take on the world. He even told me a few secrets which of course I promised to not share…
I adore these photos as for me they show the Theo I know and love; the kind, thoughtful lad who can be surprisingly shy.
Finally I took 25 photos from the shoot and used a template to put them into a heart shape. I’ve still got a couple of little tweaks to make to the order of the photos but as soon as this is finished I’ll be sending it to the print lab so I can then hang it on my wall.