I am a huge fan of natural and fun children’s portraits using available light. I am lucky enough to have a fantastic home studio with a range of backdrops and lighting at my disposal. I certainly make good use of this set up. However the other 50% of the time I also photograph on location or I photograph using natural light in my studio.
There are a few fantastic southern facing windows in my studio that I use regularly in my photography.
I have been a long time fan of photographing my subjects next to windows and using available window light.
I have taken countless images of my own children standing by windows, looking out of windows, sitting on windows and standing on window sills. These have been taken in our home, in historical locations, in friend’s homes…what can I say? I really love windows! I like they way they look in images because they can lend a more “lifestyle” look to your photos (as opposed to a studio look). The frame of a window can also add a nice compositional element. But the main reason I like them so much is being able to play with the available light from a window.
I love images that have dramatic light, where the room is reasonably dark and the light coming in from the window creates quite a contrasting effect. I enjoy being able to play with the light coming in the window in terms of how this light interacts with the subject or subjects in the portrait.
I often bring adults and families over to one of the windows in my studio. Likewise I am a huge fan of maternity portraits that are posed next to a window. I particularly love a silhouette shot of a pregnant mum by a window and I have taken many of these for my clients. Silhouettes also work well for kids and families too.
There is something lovely about standing next to a window. Perhaps it is because we all like being able to see out. Most people are somewhat attracted to light and the most effective rooms have beautiful windows, whether their purpose is to showcase a view or simply to help light the room.
We are all more relaxed in a familiar setting and standing next to a window can help people feel a bit more “at home” than standing in front of a photography backdrop with a large light poised in front of them.
What I have learnt when photographing children is that just like adults, the more comfortable they feel, the better results you will get in the photographs.
When it comes to taking your own photographs of your children, why not experiment with window light? Whether you are an experienced photographer or an amateur, it is an excellent place to photograph your kids.
Just as adults do, children often gravitate towards windows in a room. Kids are mostly curious creatures and they simply want to know what is on the other side. Once a child is standing near a window you can engage with them quite easily to encourage them to stay there. Questions about what they can see outside the window can keep them interested and lead to some lovely natural expressions. For example, can you see birds? What sort of birds? Can they see you? Do they live in the tree? Can you talk to them? Can birds talk? Wait – can you hear them and what do you think they are saying right now? These sorts of questions work well with most younger kids. If you want them to remain standing or sitting by a window, you will need to open up your own imagination and continue to engage with them to hold their interest. Your child might turn and look out of the window, or use their hands on the window. They might try to climb up on it! They will do things that you hadn’t thought of and often react in a way that will surprise you. It’s all about making the most of the moment and capturing their uniqueness
Recently, my son was in a reasonably good mood and I thought I might get some photographs of him wearing bunny ears for Easter. Despite his good mood, he was actually not at all interested in wearing the bunny ears and refused to put them on even once. He then spotted a bear hat that was much more enticing. So we took some fun shots with the hat until he became sick of it.
I also had a bunny toy that I thought he might like to play with. I had visions of him bouncing it or cuddling it. I tried to direct his play a bit to see if he could act out my “vision”. But, being a two year old, he didn’t appreciate my attempts to direct his play in any way. Instead he picked up the bunny and threw it across the room. Repeatedly. And he thought this was outright hilarious. So at least he had a great time.
Once I let go of the fact that I wouldn’t be getting the ideal shot of my child wearing bunny ears this year, nor a cute shot of him interacting with a toy bunny, I followed his lead. He must have realised that I no longer cared what he did with this toy, so it was time to play with it. He decided to put the bunny up on the window sill and played a cute little game talking to it. It was adorable. As a result I got some lovely shots of him that are some my favourite yet.
My daughter aged six is much more likely to follow instructions and was happy to don bunny ears as per my request. However she stipulated that she would wear them as long as she could also have a ballet skirt on. After the ears fell off twice she decided that she had enough of them and they were thrown aside. However as with my son, I was very happy with the photographs that I took of her that day. She was having fun, dancing and talking to me being herself. I know that in a few years time I will love looking back on these shots of both of them because this is exactly who they are right now.
As an experienced children’s natural portrait photographer, I would be honoured to take some photographs of your kids. You can check out some more of my children’s portraits here. If you have any questions I would be happy to answer them. Please contact me if you would like to talk about a photoshoot or to book one in. Gift Certificates also available.