The iconic illustrations of American artist Norman Rockwell are a source of inspiration for many photographers. Want some tips and trick for how to create your own Norman Rockwell-inspired shot? Then keep reading, as Joey Carrapichano is about to share what he knows of the subject.
“I’ve always admired Norman Rockwell,” says Joey Carrapichano. “His illustrations are so vivid. The kids in them make the most amazing expressions. These expressions are a great source of inspiration for me. It’s something I try to also capture in my own photographs.”
Traces of Joey’s admiration for the American artist can be found in his own colorful, comic book-like photographs. The image above is a nice example of that. So how did Joey create that shot, you might ask?
For starters, unlike what you might think, the image was not shot on the beach but in Joey’s studio in Hamburg, Germany.
“It often rains here in Hamburg,” says Joey. “That’s why we decided to shoot in the studio and composite the background and the wall in Photoshop. We had a tight deadline and couldn’t risk delays because of bad weather.”
Tight deadlines and limited time frames were also the reasons behind Joey’s decision to shoot one kid at a time.
“I love photographing kids,” he says. “They’re always such a joy to work with. But they do loose interest quickly, which means you have very little time to get your shot. Because of this, I decided to photograph one kid at a time. I already knew what expression I wanted each kid to do, so I just figured it was better to nail one at a time, and then put them all together.
Lighting-wise, Joey used the same setup for all three kids. His main light was always a Pro-B4 battery pack equipped with a Softlight Reflector White (also known as the Beauty Dish), positioned right in front and above the subject.
“There’s something special about the Beauty Dish”, says Joey. “I find that it lights the subject in a way that is quite unique. It’s a very crisp and sharp but soft light, if that makes sense? It sort of flattens out the shadows while maintaining contrast and depth. I use it a lot in my commercial work, as it’s great for creating that illustrative style I am striving for.”
In addition to the crisp yet soft main light, Joey needed to somehow create his own sunlight in the studio. To do so, he used a Pro-B4 equipped with a Magnum Reflector as his back light, positioned behind and to the left of the subjects (where the sun would later be in the composited background image).
“I wanted to have exact control of where the faked sun light was hitting the subjects,” says Joey. “The Magnum Reflector is great for that. It’s like a spotlight that can be focused on a certain area. Also, like I said before, the kids won’t wait for you. So the light needs to be fast enough to capture that one perfect expression. So there was no substitute for the Pro-B4.”
The third and final light was a large Softbox RFI Octa, positioned camera right. This was Joey’s fill light, set at a very low power – just enough to push up the shadows a bit.
In addition to setting up his lights, Joey made careful preparations to make the kids as comfortable and happy as possible.
“The entire area was boarded up to give the kids a little privacy and to keep them from feeling watched by grannies, parents and the other participants. But there were, of course, tears and laughter from the little people. Anouk, the little girl, was very camera shy. I had to promise her that the crew would make her a HUGE ice cream she could take home with her before she would get in front of the camera. After waiting about an hour and drying her teary eyes, she came to the set and we were able to capture a few good expressions.
As often is the case, the actual shooting went quite fast. Everything was prepped and the kids were getting restless, so there was no reason to wait.
“Rough composites were instantly done on set to make sure we had it in the bag before we called it a wrap. But as soon we could confirm that we had our shot, we devoured the rest of the ice cream and packed up for the day!”
Then came the final part. Joey composited an image he had shot in Cape Town of the ocean and the sky, added an image of a stone wall in Hamburg, and used his Photoshop skills to glue all the pieces together.
And that is how he created his Norman Rockwell-inspired-shot.
See more of Joey Carrapichano at his website.