Category Archives: Family Portrait Photography

Smoke and Lights

cool composite photo. The boy was photographed in my studio and the football stadium was added later.

Adding a bit of jazz to a photoshoot using smoke and lights

Sometimes I add some smoke and lights to create really cool shots in my studio.

As a professional family photographer I often ask myself these two questions;

  1. What can I do that is new to my clients? I don’t mean something that has never been done photographically before; I mean something that my clients haven’t come across before – and their friends probably haven’t either.
  2. How can I make my photo shoots more enjoyable? Some people love being in photo shoots and will be happy with anything. But some people hate photo shoots (you know who you are). So my question is how can I make my photo shoots enjoyable, or at least interesting, for everyone?

Today I am writing about using smoke and lights to create cool images that are dramatic and unusual. They are also a lot of fun to make!

Mother and son photo shoot

I am primarily a family photographer, and recently a mother brought her 10 year old son to my studio for a photo shoot.

As is so often the case neither really knew what to expect, and both felt a bit self conscious in front of the camera to start with. However before long we all felt relaxed as we joked about, and snapped away. We started to enjoy ourselves.

I love photo shoots when there is a strong loving relationship between the various family members. And on this photo shoot, once we had larked about a bit and my clients felt relaxed, that warmth between them started appearing in the photos.

I started by photographing them separately and together in a conventional high key style (ie white background). Then I changed to a dark background for more photos.

After a bit of this we reached the “treat point”; the smoke machine came out, I re-arranged my lights, and we really started having some fun!

cool photo of boy taken in my studio
Simple and clean. The smoke has largely dissipated to leave a thin mist.
Cool photo of boy taken in the studio, using smoke and lights from behind.
Two speedlights provide lighting from behind. I have removed the light stands in Photoshop.
Cool photo of boy taken in the studio using a smoke machine to generate smoke, and using rear lighting
An advantage of using a camera with lots of pixels is that you can do tight crops and still have enough pixels to make large prints.
Cool photo of boy with smoke and lights from behind. He is showing some attitude.
Attitude.
very cool photo of boy showing lots of attitude!
More attitude!

In my experience pretty well everybody likes the drama that is created by rear lighting and smoke, and children in particular love it. One of the joys of living in the age of digital cameras is that you can give your clients a preview of the photos on the back of the camera. When they see the quality of the photos that are being captured, this provides positive feedback so they enjoy the photo shoot even more.

When shooting like this the photographer has options for what to leave in, and what to remove from the final edit. For example it might seem appropriate to leave the lights but remove their stands, to remove everything including the lights, or leave everything in the photo. It just depends on the artistic effect you want to create.

The smoke is a bit blue and this is what gives these photos a blue feel. But what happens if we add some red gels to the rear lights?

cool photo of boy using smoke and lights with red gels
Red gels over the lights. I made the lights themselves invisible in Photoshop.
photo of boy - cool use of smoke and lights with red gels
A tighter crop.

Compositing into a football stadium

While we were shooting I discovered the boy loves football. So while I was shooting him, and without telling him so it would come as a total surprise, I decided to put him in a football stadium!

photo of boy in tracksuit with cool backlighting
Two speedlights behind the model. I have removed the stands.

When a photographer creates a picture that is composed of two or more different photos it is called a composite. It is important that the photo taken in the studio matches the new background. In particular the lighting has to be consistent. I had this in mind when I was pressing the shutter. One also has to check that the angle of view and perspective match reasonably well. In this example I also had to make some small changes to variables like brightness, contrast, colour temperature and saturation.

Composite photo showing the boy in a football stadium.
I have removed the speedlights and replaced the background with a photo of a football stadium.

If you want to check out a master of cool composite photography have a look at the work of Joel Grimes.

And click this link if you want to see how much fun kids can have with a bubble photo shoot experience.

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bubble photo shoot for children

“Bubble Photo Shoot Experience” for Children in Kingston

Fun bubble photo shoot for children

“Bring shy kids out of their bubble”

Loads of fun for kids in a bubble photo shoot!

My studio in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, provides a fun packed “bubble photo shoot experience” for children. Do you have a camera shy child? Would you like photos of your child playing naturally and care-free?

Bubble photo shoots provide a safe environment for your kids to let their hair down and have some fun while getting their photos taken.

Why book a bubble photo shoot?

These days cameras are ubiquitous. Every mobile phone has a camera. So what can a professional photographer with his own studio offer that a mobile phone can’t?

I would argue quite a lot.

And one thing my studio in Kingston offers is a fun packed “bubble photo shoot experience”. It isn’t just about getting photos at the end, it is also about the experience. If you want photos of your child playing happily, your child needs to be happy and relaxed in front of the camera.

Why not book today? Find out what a professional photographer can do with a dark background, studio flash and a bubble machine? At the end of your shoot we can even add some smoke! (The smoke isn’t really smoke, it is some kind of mist that comes out of a machine, and is meant to be totally safe. The manufacturers state it will not trigger asthma attacks, for example).

Why not make a party of it?

Bubble photo shoots tend to be quite dynamic, and they usually work best if your child brings a friend. Sometimes it works well if a parent is willing to get into the picture! The photos in this blog post show two twins in party dresses playing with the bubbles.

If you want to make a party of it, my studio in Kingston can accommodate a maximum of four children with two accompanying adults. We can plan your childrens’ photo shoot in detail in your pre-shoot consultation (the booking fee includes a pre-shoot consultation).

Do you want some serious photos too?

No worries. During your pre-shoot consultation we can discuss the best way to mix your photo shoot to get some serious photos too. Please note if you are inviting several of your child’s friends it is probably best to book a separate session for the serious photos.

How do I book my bubble photo shoot?

Click here for information about booking your personalised photo shoot experience.

fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

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family photo shoot, photography in Kingston

Family photo shoot in Kingston upon Thames

Would you like your family photo shoot in the studio, or on location?

Why not both?

All my photo shoots, whether they are a family photo shoot, a commercial shoot, or a fashion shoot, are custom designed for my clients.

“Emma’s Diary”

I am primarily a baby and family photographer, and I work in association with “Emma’s Diary“. That means I have special offers for customers who come from Emma’s Diary. It also means I can enter photos of their babies into the “Baby of the Month” competition that is run in association with Emma’s Diary. Each month 5 lucky parents receive £100 Mothercare vouchers, and there is a rather more substantial prize of £5,000 at the end of each year, for the “Baby of the Year”.

Recently I did a photo shoot with a young family who came to me via Emma’s Diary, and they wanted to enter their baby into the “Baby of the Month” competition.

Bespoke family photography

Everyone who books me for a photo shoot is entitled to a “pre-shoot consultation”. This is when I talk through the photo shoot with my client. We talk about what style of photography to use, and what they want to end up with at the end of their photo shoot.These consultations are best done face to face in my photo studio. However (not surprisingly) most pregnant mums, or new mums, prefer to do it over the phone. We can also exchange images by e-mail.

(Many clients don’t really know what they want to end up with, so one of my roles is to talk through the various options).

So… mum and I discussed how to approach this “baby photo shoot”. Very quickly this turned into a “family photo shoot plus baby”.  And shortly after that, it became a “location photo shoot” as well as a “studio photo shoot”. Not bad progress for just a few minutes of chatting.

I love having the luxury of being able to  design my photo shoots in a bespoke manner for individual clients. I am also able to give my customers the time they need to capture the images they want.

Shooting on location

We drove to a location just a few minutes from my studio. The result is some beautiful images of a very photogenic family, in a photogenic location, with a very, very cute baby (he has the most amazing eyes).

Would you like to hire me for your family photo shoot?

Click this link to find out about booking your own  “professional photo shoot“.
family photo shoot on location in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey family photo shoot on location in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey family photo shoot on location in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey family photo shoot on location in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey family photo shoot on location in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey family photo shoot on location in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

 

 Health and safety…

I hope you might be amused by this photoshop trickery

family photo shoot in my studio in Kingston upon Thames, Surreyfamily photo shoot in my studio in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

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Ian Trayner, high key portrait photography

The enduring appeal of high key portrait photography

What is high key portrait photography?

The expression “high key photography” is actually ambiguous. It can mean that the entire photo has a bright, pale look. Or it can mean that the photo uses a pale background, or a bright white backround. It is the latter meaning that I am using here.

Why choose high key portrait photography?

  • Having a plain background helps emphasise the subject, because there is nothing else to distract the eye
  • High key photography is unlikely to “date”, even if the clothes in the picture do!
  • In general, hIgh key photos are “bright” and “cheerful”
  • You need a reasonably skilled photographer to take a good high key portrait. Most high key portraits will have been taken in a professional studio

Tech photo stuff

Why aren’t there any strong shadows on the background? Because the background is lit seperately from the subject, and will probably be lit a bit brighter.

If the light falling on the background is a lot brighter than the light falling on the subject, the background can itself become I light source. A photographer may, or may not, desire this effect. The amount of light that is thrown forward onto the  subject also depends on the distance between the subject and the background. There are lighting tutorials on the web if you want to learn how to do high key portrait photography.

How is it possible to show white clothes against a white background? Because the photographer has used precisely the correct exposure for the clothes. Most fabrics have an uneven texture that gives you variations in brightness. If the amount of light falling on the background is more than that landing on the clothes, the clothes will be slightly pale grey overall. However the eye will still perceive them to be white, because the mind “knows” they are white. Most photographers will use a light meter to measure how much light there is, and adjust it to suit.

Are there different “styles” of high key photography?

Yes indeed. This is a subject I may explore in a future blog post. But for now I will just say that I usually use a main light (falling on the subject) that is stronger than my fill light (falling on my subject). This allows me to use shadows to help show the three dimensional shape of the face.

Ian Trayner, high key portrait photography, family photography, photographer-in-surrey.netIan Trayner, high key portrait photography, family photography, photographer-in-surrey.net Ian Trayner, high key portrait photography, family photography, photographer-in-surrey.net Ian Trayner, high key portrait photography, family photography, photographer-in-surrey.net Ian Trayner, high key portrait photography, family photography, photographer-in-surrey.net Ian Trayner, high key portrait photography, family photography, photographer-in-surrey.net

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