Family Photo Shoot

Last week was half-term week and we had the pleasure to look after my nephew Jack for the week. He was dropped off on Saturday by his Mum and Dad and collected the following weekend by his Mum (my sister – Louise). When he was here over Christmas we never managed to get any photographs of him and the ones that my Mum has are of a much younger Jack, she really wanted some more up-to-date photos of him.

So I decided to get the lights, stands and brollies out to take some professional looking portraits of Jack, with and without the dogs and as his Mum was here a few of them together – the best of which is the above photo that has been very popular on Facebook so far.

Anyone who reads my blog will know that I have used the same gear to take photos of the dogs with and without their Christmas Gear. They always like to be in on then action so here are a couple of shots of the dogs on their own taking during the shoot.

First we have Zara:

And we cannot forget Seska too:

The lighting setup was a simple affair; we had two Cactus RF60 speedlights and each of them were configured to fire into a reflective brolly, we had these set-up on light stands to camera-right and camera-left. They were controlled wirelessly with a V6 transmitter and adjusted to provide even lighting onto both sides of Jack’s face – a light meter allowed me to adjust the power on the lights indepdendantly until I had them providing a suitable amount of light on both sides of Jack’s face. Once this was achieved I noted the aperture and shutter speed for the ISO that I wanted to use; this was before a single photo was taken. I also had assistants (first his Mum an then my Mum) holding a silver reflector to provide a little bounced light to remove harsh shadows from under Jack’s chin.

With the shooting parameters noted I set the camera to manual, dialled in the appropriate settings (ISO 200, f3.5 and a shutter speed of 1/250 sec) and took one more test shot, Jack gave the thumbs up to proceed:

Jack being the age he is (9 going on 14 🙂 ) kept pulling faces and it was quite a challenge getting some nice photographs and occasional distraction form his mother and the dogs enabled more “non-staged” photos to be produced:


However we also managed to get a few more poses from Jack. First we have the laid back:

I then asked Jack to fold-his arms and look mean:

Once he was less self-conscious I managed to get a much nicer photograph:

Next we have, “The Thinker”:

At this point the dogs decided that they also had to be in the picture again so jumped on Jack and we got a nice photo with no poses in sight:

At times they were masking Jack, who struggled to keep in frame:

Finally I persuaded Louise to join Jack and took a few of them together, all 3 of the shots in this post are nice but my favourite is the more candid one I have of them that is at the top of this post:


I was quite happy with the results and this goes to show that the Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera paired with the awesomely sharp 40-150mm f2.8 PRO lens is a powerful picture taking machine and I am frankly very pleased with the results I am getting. Whilst the general rule is that it is the photographer who takes the picture, it helps when you “connect” with the gear that you are using and using off-camera flash really helps provide the goods. My next exercise will to try out some dramatic lighting – I just need to find a willing subject.:)


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