Today my son started Kindergarten. I was very tempted to get out my chalk board and write on it, but he is not always cooperative for photos so I decided to stick with my normal minimalist story telling style and have him stand in front of our house with his back back on.
He is at that age where he loves to give a goofy smile...so to get him to give a genuine smile there may have been a bit of potty talk. After all, what 6 year old does not love to hear about poo and be asked to spell "butt"?
Morning September light in Michigan is quite pretty and was still soft and even at 7:45am when these images were taken. To set up the shot, I simply had him stand in front of the house, but far enough up on the side walk to pull in some of the landscaping (I wanted some green in the frame). I made sure he was standing in a spot with nothing over head (no trees to shade his face). I positioned myself at his height, goofed around with a little potty talk and we were done!
So my big tips:
1. Pick a spot with even lighting (not in direct sun, not with overhead shaded and if possible no bright hot spots). My spot was shaded by trees in my neighbors and my yard.
2. Don't back your subject against a house or door, pulling them away from a structure allows light behind them and allows more light into the shot in general. Honestly my favorite set up is to shoot down the street, but I want the image to be a classic "leaving the house" shot.
3. Don't ask you child to smile, make them laugh by saying or doing something silly.
4. Shoot from their height, not looking down on them, as I feel that gives the viewer more of a connection with the image.
UPDATE: After posting this article on my business facebook page, I got 4 pms with pretty much the same question: How do I get him to look to sharp?
My answer: I use a long lens (a canon 135 2.0L). I shot close to wide open (f/2.2). I had some distance between him and the background. The more distance between the subject and back ground, the more blur you will have in the image. When the background is out of focus and your subject is in focus your subject will appear even more sharp...it is somewhat of an optical illusion.
I also was asked about how I get "rich" colors in my images. First, I will say I love the colors Canon lenses produce especially my 135. And I always start with a clean Raw edit - I only adjust exposure if needed, and make sure my whites are as white as possible and blacks as black as possible. Then in Photoshop, I add contrast, a little saturation to the background (never the subject), a vignette to make the subject pop, and correct any color casts on the skin. And that is pretty much it. When an image is correctly lit, not a whole lot of editing is needed.