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Big Brother

The boys in these images are my nephews, ages 11 and 9. The 11 year old’s birthday wish (he turns 11 tomorrow) was to come down and visit us for his birthday. They know how much I love to take pictures, and Saturday evening after I put my own son to bed, we were just sitting around and I asked them if I could take their picture.

Shockingly…they said yes!

Even more shocking was that they just posed as they were. Neither had shirts on, and honestly, I didn’t really give it much thought at the time. My goal was to capture them well, with the ambient lighting I had in the room positioned to flatter the pose they were in.

Because the lighting was so dim, the exposure times were consistently long…most 1/5 to 1 second. That’s pretty long, in my opinion, to have to hold a pose, especially for children with tons of energy! They did so well though; they knew what to expect. They let me pose them in different positions and were excited to see the results.

When they smile, it’s obviously fake. I wanted something natural. More “them”. They are thoughtful boys, very serious, and are currently dealing with the separation of their parents. I feel these images thoroughly reflect who they are, naturally. Not the fake grins you get in school pictures.

Little Brother

Lessons learned doing these portraits:

  • If lighting a subject from one side, you MUST have either a reflector (which I did not), or some back light to minimize the shadows behind them.
  • Pay close attention to shadows across the face. Slight changes in light position can make a huge difference.
  • I get best results if I take my time, and let them act goofy between shots. They get it out of their system.
  • Use what you have. We took these with a small round end table in about 4×4 square feet of space. The primary light was a desk lamp with a soft white energy saver bulb diffused with a white pillow case. A studio it is not!
  • Soft white bulbs produce a yellow cast. I am not a fan.
  • Back light also makes a dramatic difference in exposure time, which can be crucial when shooting fidgety kids.
  • Each session is unique and despite the fact that this is ‘practice’, the time spent taking the photographs will always be remembered; for them as well, I hope.
  • When processing images in sepia, it is important to be sure the hue of the sepia tones is the same from one image to another.