Tuesday, August 2, 2016


We got a call from the grandparents of these kids asking if we would be willing to do their portraits at their home in Boise.  Of course I said Yes, but that I would need to preview their place for portrait locations around the home. So, after I took their deposit and got them on our calendar I scheduled their location preview a few days before the session. I always do a separate check with a new location. I also schedule the preview at about the same time of day—usually about 2 hours before sunset—that the session is scheduled. 

When I preview a home location I look at the entire location: the front yard, back yard, side yards—looking for where the shade is and the spots with backlight.  When children are subjects I also look for play structures or other backyard features that I can use for portraits of just the kids.  I also check out all the trees on the property; trees not only provide shade, but they’re often a feature in my portraits outside. That’s when I discovered the weeping willow where grandpa had attached a think rope for the boys to play Tarzan of the jungle.

Note to self as I discovered it: save this as the Last set-up of the session!

This is how we ended the session…

 f5.6 @ 1/100 sec., ISO 800; lens 8mm fish-eye
I had this image in my head the instant I saw the rope! Since I always have a fish-eye lens in my camera bag (I’ve always owned a fish-eye lens for whatever camera system I’ve had) this was an easy set-up.

The boys are standing on the ground about two feet in front of me as I point the camera down at them (I’m standing—I’m 6’2” tall—close enough that both my feet were in the image!). So, I had them all grab hold of the rope pretending that they were dangling over a thousand foot cliff yelling, “Ahaaa!!” Of course I’m yelling along with them as I clicked off a few images. They really got into the fantasy!

The point here is that when photographing kids you should offer the kids something as a reward for their cooperation when doing the more formal portraits up front. I always have Tootsie Pop suckers in my vest pocket that I show and promise to give them after the session. (Don’t forget to check with mom first to make sure it’s OK to give them candy.) But first we do the traditional portraits that mom and grandma expect…

f6.3 @ 1/320 sec., ISO 800; lens @ 145mm
While they’re clean we do all the usual formal poses with the grandparents and of just the kids.  We’ll usually finish with individuals of each child. After about 30 minutes of that they’re done and I say, “Play Time!”  But, I’m not done.

When I have something in mind I tell the kids we’re going to do something fun and when we’re done then they get their suckers. It’s amazing how much energy and enthusiasm they suddenly have! We all had a great time and the fun fish-eye image was a big hit with everybody.

’Til next week!  

http://www.TheStorytellersUsa.com on location in Boise, Idaho.

Author:  Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman, Certified
Training site:  http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com

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