Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Taking portraits of my granddaughter - portrait tips for all of you

Before I give you some tips on taking portraits of toddlers, let's start with the most important question: Am I old enough to be a grandfather? I sure don't feel like it!

But I love having my granddaughter visit any time and getting the chance to photograph her as she grows up. 

When she was 3 months old, it was tough to get good photos of her, since she could not sit up and did not have a whole lot of expressions. Of course, that did not stop me from photographing her. We would just prop her up in a pseudo-sitting position and I would fire away.

It is amazing how much she changes in such a short period of time. This photo was taken only 6 weeks after the previous image and she was now smiling. I put her down on a white backdrop to try and get a passport photo of her. (This image would not work because they do not want smiling and there was too much shadow and they do not allow that.) But I liked seeing that smile.

Last month was the first time that I took care of her on my own for two days. It was all consuming, and I really did not have time to think about photos. But late in the afternoon on the second day, we were out in my backyard and I thought "this would be a great photo moment". I went and grabbed the Canon R3 with the Canon RF 70-200mm lens and a Canon 600EX-RT flash. I was laying down on the grass in front of her, since it is important to be down at their eye level, and I focused on her eyes. I made sure to include her crazy hair in the shot! I turned the flash power down by 1 1/2 stops so that the photo would not look "flashed" but it would add catch light in her eyes. This photo is framed in my house right now.

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter-in-law was back at my house with her precious little girl. And now she is starting to eat solid food, so I had to document that! I grabbed the Canon R6 with the Canon RF 85mm f/1.2 lens and started taking photos. The light was not great in the kitchen so once again I added a Canon 600EX-RT flash with a MagMod MagSphere 2 diffuser so add a little more light on her. I waited for her to grab the spoon and look me and bam, captured this. I love the way that the 85mm f/1.2 lens (shooting wide open at f/1.2) removes all the distractions from the image, so we can focus just on her cute face. No, I am not biased at all. :)

Then it was time to try the same camera and lens (no flash this time) outside.

Just like before, I got down low on the grass so that I could photograph her at eye level. I had Emma (her mom) behind me doing funny things to make her laugh. The great thing about the Canon R cameras is that they lock into the eye so perfectly. Normally when shooting at f/1.2 with previous DSLRs, the "take rate" was about 50%, but with the new cameras it is almost 100% sharp on the eyes. I LOVE that!

Uh oh, was she already giving me attitude? 

When going through the images (using Photo Mechanic). Emma and I both agreed that this was our favorite photo. This one will be printed and framed any day now. And yes...I could remove the drool from her chin, but I decided to leave it alone. She is teething and this tells a story.  

Before putting the camera away, I asked Emma if she would get in the shot with my granddaughter. She happily agreed and I got this image. I made sure that they were both at the same distance from me, and I had to change the aperture from f/1.2 to f/2.5 in order to get them both in focus. I made funny sounds and got both of them to smile for this photo. Another keeper.

As many of you predicted, this little one is going to be a great subject for a long time!



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