Chasing Rays Blog

On Location Portrait

Children’s Portraiture

I was asked to do a commission at a client’s house; the client’s mother had just had her birthday and wanted some pictures of her grandchildren for framing.
"It’s generally thought that to get good results, you need the kind of area that’s generally available in a photography studio. This isn’t necessarily the case….."
It’s generally thought that to get good results, you need the kind of space and lighting setups that are available in a your typical photography studio. This isn’t necessarily the case, because as long as you can hide the wider environment in some way you can produce good images almost anywhere.

I like working on location as you can give more personal images in an environment that’s more representative of my clients’ lives (at least in my opinion). Sure, a studio will definitely give you excellent control over your light and the lighting of your subjects and environment, but a small sacrifice in this control allows you to put your clients’ images in a context they can relate to in a much more personal way.

In this case, though, my set up area was against a blank, neutral-coloured wall that gave me only a 1.5 m x 2 m area in which to work – it was the small landing at the top of the stairs between a bathroom and one of the lads’ bedrooms.

I lit the back wall with a remotely triggered direct flash which I’d gelled blue. The front light was tungsten balanced to match the hall light and set in a 56 cm Lastolite softbox, which I’d put a grid in to control the light spill into the small area in front of me. The softbox was set up just to camera right in the entrance to a second bedroom, which is quite forgiving in terms of its graduated, wrap-around illumination of your subject.

I set the blue gelled direct flash in the bathroom to camera left and aimed it at the wall with a wide focal length to produce a soft coloured gradient effect as background. This was set to manual flash at 1/128 power, whilst the softbox was set to TTL flash with +0.3 FEV compensation.

My portrait sessions for children try to start with the more serious shots, whilst the little ones are still concentrating. This, of course, descends into a bit of silliness later on – as you can see my mini-gallery below – but this is an excellent way to relieve a bit of tension from all that serious posing, whilst Grandma has all the shots she wants for her wall.

I ended by letting the kids try out a bit of photography themselves, by setting up another camera body with the remote flash controller. They absolutely love being photographer for a while, and I’ve yet to find a youngster for whom being able to trigger all my speedlights remotely isn’t just a complete hoot!

I’ve put a few examples from this commission in my mini-gallery below which represent – bar a little cropping and subtle colour enhancement – the images straight out of camera. It shows what you can do even in a tiny space, but let me know what you think…

You can see a few of my preferred pictures in the gallery below; the full set are now available in a private, password-protected album in my gallery.

All the best,

Chasing Rays Photography.




Hardware Used


About the Author

Mark Watkins

Mark WatkinsI've been a photographer since 2006 and a computer fanatic since 1995. I hope to share my passion for photography with you through the products and services I offer through my website. See me on Google+ | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedInView all posts by Mark Watkins →

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