Portrait 6/52 - Andrew

My son Andrew turned four over the weekend. He’s a lively fellow and, as four year old boys are apt to do, he’s taken an interest in dinosaurs. So we had a fun dinosaur themed party to celebrate. To commemmorate his birthday, I decided it was fitting to make him my subject of the week. I had found an idea on Pinterest for a boy portrait where his toys were arranged in a semi-circle around his head. In light of his dinosaur party, I decided to go with little dinosaurs:

I was hoping to get some different expressions — especially something beyond the typical “cheese” smile. I was pleased to get a more contemplative look:

I also got some more, shall we say, “enthusiastic” expressions!

We had fun and Andrew enjoyed trying to block my view of his face with his two dinosaurs in hand. But after not too long, Andrew’s cooperation had definitely started to drop off so we called it a wrap.


Technical Details

This shoot presented some unique challenges as Andrew was lying on the floor. There was no separation between him and the background (floor), so my lighting setup needed to reflect that. To provide nice soft, even illumination to the whole length of his torso, I opted to use my 8x36 strip light as the main light. The flash was set to 1/2 power and it was positioned above and to camera right from Andrew. I then had a large umbrella positioned pretty high and to camera left from Andrew to provide fill and to generally keep the base level of illumination up. This was set to 1/4 power. Finally, I decided to add a little kick of light to his hair and grazing across the floor/dinosaurs so I added a third bare flash lying on the floor “above” his head and set to 1/8 power. Camera settings were 1/160s, f7.1, and ISO 100. I had some dying batteries in my main flash so I have quite a few pictures that do not include all flashes. This was unfortunate as it meant I didn’t have good exposures for some good expressions. You might notice the shadow goes the other way in one of the above pictures. That is one of the good expressions that I rescued in post. The interesting thing about flashes not firing is it is very instructive about what each light is doing. I think I’ll post some straight out of camera shots later illustrating this.


The point of this shoot was to get a fun portrait of Andrew where he was having a good time and not giving too much “cheese”. I like some of the unabashedly gleeful expressions we were able to get. With kids it seems especially important to try and introduce some fun. That also requires rolling with some not ideal poses such as dinosaurs completely obscuring the face! I’m pleased with the pictures but next time I’ll be sure to have fresh batteries so I don’t lose good expressions to bad exposure.

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