"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.