I spent last week with the wonderful Photo Training Overseas group in Tunisia which, in it’s 25th year, travels to lovely locations for a week of training and collaboration of photographers. Its a great honour to be asked to be a guest speaker and with such a variation on speakers, I also go the chance to tag onto some of the other speakers talks.
My area was in child portraiture and using the hotel and beach made for wonderful backdrops with some interesting and varied natural light. My teaching began with using parts of the hotel, less obvious – using the ordinary but concentrating on how the light falls on an area in order to use the location to effect, coupled with texture within the background. These images were taken in the foyer of the hotel with window light to camera right and reflector to the left. Very simple but effective.

Hotfooting it out of the hotel and to the hotel pool which was surrounded with this mock rock construction – creating a wonderful backdrop of texture and colour working in either colour or black and white tones, this location lends itself to something vibrant and bright in colour…

or a little deeper and thought provoking in b/w

Part of the teaching is to encourage observational skills, to open your eyes when you are not setting images up – and even when you are, to stay aware and eyes in the back of your head. Whilst explaining this, one of our little models, Santana was having a moment of contemplation and making shapes in the sand, this is the time to get children at their most natural and whilst they look set up it is actually a very real moment.

This is not in any way a groundbreaking image, just a nice moment caught – and quite a saleable one.

On the subject of setting images up, some of my work is and some is not – tbh, the most important part of photographing children is to ensure they are enjoying themselves and that means getting a balance between working quickly with posing and allowing them time to play and have a great memory of the experience, sometimes you will need to compromise and adapt to a child’s temperament.

Having done a quick scout around for locations when I arrived, the beach lent itself to some fine areas and we were really spoilt – I chose a small shack made from bamboo and dried pine leaves that, if and when the sun shone, (and it didn’t really) given this was South facing, it was an area that we could control the light by diffusion – the sand then acted as a reflector and the roof giving some top shade. This gave the most amazing organic feel and whatever happened in that area was mine for the taking…