Portrait and lifestyle photographer Meg Loeks captured an ethereal photograph of her 2-year old daughter watching a shadow puppet show with her pet cat. Starting with a pair of curtains and drapery as a background, Meg set up the soft shadow puppet stage commissioned by a local toy store.
For this shot Meg Loeks used two lights. Her main light was a Profoto A10, which she bounced into a Profoto Umbrella Deep White Large. Meg really likes the swath of soft window-like light the umbrellas output for her photo-illustrations. Umbrellas are also quick and easy to set up and use, which is a plus when kids are part of the equation. A big fan of northern light, Meg tries to emulate the look of window light when possible. If the ambient outside light isn’t quite right, she will often place her light outside, aim it through the window out of camera view, dial in the exact amount of light she needs, and when shooting flash, trigger her lights remotely.
In this case Meg set the output from her main light to about 1/3rd power, which was slightly higher than the ambient window light and just enough to add a touch of ‘snap’ to the soft window light without outgunning it.
A second light – a Profoto B10, was placed off-center to the side to backlight the scene. To contrast the cooler tonality of the window light filling the foreground, Meg powered the B10’s continuous LED array to about 2/3rds power and cranked the color temperature to the extreme warm end of the temperature control dial, which is approximately 3000K.
After shooting a series of pictures with her daughter and a stuffed animal stand-in, Meg let her daughter run off while she captured additional shots of the cat in position, the best of which was Photoshopped into the final image.
Meg shot this series of images using a Canon 5D Mk IV and a Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art-series lens, which she makes good use of for its resolving power and elective-focusing qualities.
Meg has a very organic method of working. Though she typically start with her lights and umbrellas on stands, it’s not unusual for her to take the light off the stand, remove any light modifiers, and handhold the lamphead while bouncing it off of a wall or other surface in order to achieve her desired effect. If it works, she goes with flow. If it doesn’t work , she moves on and tries something new.
Meg Leok’s Tips For Shooting Dreamy ‘Kidscapes’
- Keep things simple. The simpler the plan, the less chance of running the clock on getting good results.
- Have everything in place including your lights, camera position, and exposure settings before the child or children come on set.
- If the kids arrive before you are ready to start working make sure you have snacks (and not messy snacks!) and a choice of games or activities to keep them occupied until showtime.
- As mentioned above, be organic in your approach. Never hesitate to take a light off of the stand and hand-hold it, or perhaps move it into a position you might not ordinarily try if it means getting a better photograph.
- Go in with a Commando-style attitude. Be prepared to do whatever it takes to work within the parameters of the child’s personality.