In this photograph, I created a temporary studio to make high-key images for a range of clothing products for children. Photographing children can be very challenging as they have minds of their own and can get either restless, distracted or simply uncooperative, however, it was a fun and rewarding shoot to do, plus this child was a dream to work with. In this photoshoot, I used a Canon 5D Mark III (the Canon 5D MIV is now the newest version of this camera but of course comes it comes with a higher price tag). This camera is a good camera for photoshoots such as this as it’s not too heavy so if you don’t want to be tied to tripod for the whole shoot you can easily move around the subject, plus it has a good 22.3 megapixel resolution and a full frame CMOS sensor, which is good enough for fashion portraits for a website or for printed publications.
A Portable Backdrop was used, which collapses and comes with its own carrier so that it can easily be transported to a location and assembled. For the background, I used a roll of white backdrop paper. Many other colours are available but for this photo, I wanted a pure white background which wouldn’t distract the viewer from the clothing. A couple of Heavy Duty Spring Clamps to hold the paper in place at either end will prove invaluable. Backdrop stands and muslins come in various sizes and materials so be sure to buy the correct roll size that correlates to your backdrop stand. There are also Collapsible Reversible Backdrops, that come in various colours, which would save time and could be used for a portrait of a seated person. And the final element, necessary for a studio shoot, is of course light, and the camera needs a lot of light! I used something like this Abetstudio Continuous Lighting Kit. Here I used a light, placed near the paper to reduce the shadows on the paper. I also used two Softbox lights in front of, and either side of the subject. The softboxes were placed to the subject and at the height level to the subject’s face, giving a soft illumination on the face. I also used the flash a Speedlight 430 EX II Flash Unit on my camera for an extra boost of light. There are various brands of lights on the market. Bowens lights are often recommended but they are on the higher end of the spectrum. Cheaper brands will suffice, particularly if you’re starting out as a studio photographer. You can also get all-inclusive studio sets which include lights and a backdrop kit, such as the Phot-R Photo Studio Kit.
There are millions of options for light arrangements and backdrops, which each gives a different look and mood to the image. Studio shoots are not an easy endeavour and take time to set up and fine tune. However, there are books out there specifically on lighting, for example, Light it, shoot it, retouch it…, Studio photography and lighting: art and techniques, and Light and shadow: dynamic lighting design for studio portrait photography. And finally, I created some bubbles to create a playful atmosphere.
I would recommend practising your portrait photography with willing friends and family first before taking on a professional commission. Take time with your shoot but also try to enjoy it, portrait photography can be the most creative and rewarding type of photography to do!
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