Photographing Children in Natural Light
Some of you may be aware that I am writing a book for Crowood Press, Photographing Children in Natural Light. It’s an enormous task! But I am relishing bringing everything together, shooting new work and am looking forward to seeing that first copy! The book is a tutorial on all the elements that go into professional and semi professional portraiture of children in natural light situations. A few people have asked to see a tease so here is a little exert about getting creative and trends in social photography..
“It might be you are wishing to take your skill to a professional standing, you have understood the need to take your photography to a higher
level in order to remain competitive so are looking to build on your existing portfolio. Itʼs easy to fall into a comfort zone – especially if you
have something in place that works. When you have a method and style of working it is natural to become, not complacent,
but perhaps in a safe zone to not think forward. However, we need to be looking ahead in order to remain current, to keep ideas and imagery fresh.
Despite having something that ‘works’ and is popular with your clients, by keeping yourself inspired, working on personal projects and staying current is fundamental.
Similarly to the fashion and design trade, photography is constantly evolving around trends – if you look at the likes of designer
Vivenne Westward, or any successful fashion label, they possess a very distinctive style of course, to assuage their client base,
yet have to be seen to be current, to be one step ahead of the market. Otherwise, the clients move on to the next best thing.
Gentle evolving consistency is a powerful tool in the creative world. What works today will have progressed to
something new tomorrow – style remains but trends change.
The photographic industry is the same and your clients will be expecting you to be trend aware. All the small elements even of portraiture
go through styles – often dictated by the current mood of fashion. Take composition, the multi sensor focussing option
within a camera has enabled us to use negative space with more ease and to effect and become popular for a while, perhaps we will
see the regeneration in placement of subject bang in the middle of our image, bold and direct, make a comeback.
This may coincide with the return of a more classical trend of portraiture?
We have seen the phase of over manipulation, spot colour, toning, vintage styles come and go. ʻReportageʼ or ʻDocumentaryʼ
were adjectives thrown around in the late 80ʼs and throughout the 90ʼs, moving into ʻLifestyleʼ – a more candid way of working
and this is natural to follow. But only to glance at it, to play with it within our work – to go down a wholly definitive change of style
can be disruptive to marketing and confusing for the consumer. We need to be thinking ahead to the next adaptation of trend,
or in an ideal world, creating our own – most certainly being honest with ourselves as to what moves us, and always being one step ahead.
Natural light portraits as a trend.
Many of these ʻstylesʼ were more about the user experience. In fact, perhaps a lot about the label itself – it was reassuring to clients
that their portrait was to be something wholly natural, it was going to be a pleasurable experience
(which is of course of absolute importance) and it was current.
This style of portraiture interestingly ran alongside the growth of the digital era, having come through the more controlled,
classical times of film. Photography became accessible, and the public were starting to understand that they could have their
portraits taken fast and candidly and the cost of producing one image, drastically reduced. So, with that came a new breed of photographer
who discovered the power of a long, fast focal length lens in order to create images on the hoof and candidly which would produce a viable,
saleable product, wholly accessible to all. In some ways this had a negative effect on the marketplace of portrait photography – by diluting skill,
making it too easy perhaps. Which it has to some, but for the serious photographer, the artist who can marry
ideas with skill, who can control light and can relate the great ideas onto paper (or a digital chip), it has opened the door.
As previously said, the ideas for portraits have not changed from Steichensʼ day, what has, is the methods of how we achieve the final results.
What the saturation of the market has done is opened the door wider for the creative who can push themselves to a far higher standard in
order to set themselves apart. This takes, firstly imagination, and subsequently vision and skill. But we are not born with a skill – the skill has to be taught….”