If you’ve ever tried photographing kids, you’re no stranger to silly faces. But while most of us who put these shots in the drawer, San Fransisco-based photographer Greg Koch saves and frames the silly faces only.
“When I initially approached my son’s school with the idea of doing a photo project for their art class, I hadn’t yet realized the concept of silly faces,” says Greg Koch. “I only knew I wanted to do a studio shoot. I had just purchased a Profoto Pro-B4 pack and was eager to test it before a couple of client shoots I had the following week.
“When preparing for the shoot in the studio with my son, I kept trying to get a smile out of him. He, in turn, kept making silly faces. That’s when inspiration struck. Why should I try to get all of these kids to do something as unnatural as posing? Wouldn’t it be better to shoot them with all their natural charisma and energy? The idea felt very natural and I decided to push forward with it. The Silly Faces project was born.”
While the concept behind Silly Faces is quite simple, the lighting setup Greg ended up using to realise his idea was slightly more extravagant.
“I ended up using a seven-light set up,” says Greg. “I had two background lights, one hair light, and four key lights.
The keys were placed close to the subject, arranged in the shape of a square, with one horizontal Softbox RFi 1×4′ below, two vertical Softbox RFi 1×4′ on either side, and one Softbox RFi 2×3′ overhead. The horizontal softboxes were powered by Greg’s brand new Pro-B4, while the vertical softboxes were powered by D1 monolights.
All seven lights were triggered with the Air Remotes while the receivers used on the three Compacts units were PocketWizards. They various colors in the background were added in post.
“The idea was to showcase the faces themselves, in all their youthful detail, so I shot straight through the soft boxes with a PhaseOne P65+ and 80mm f2.8 lens,” says Greg.
“Needless to say, I’m very happy with the results,” he adds. “The kids had a blast, and that, more than anything else, made it worthwhile to me. Plus, I got to surprise the parents with some great shots of their kids, which is always fun.
See more of Greg’s work at his website.