Jun
16

Capture stunning Father’s Day portraits

Tutorials
by
Matt Bennett

This Father’s Day, learn to take natural photos which capture the loving relationship between dads and their children

Karen Wiltshire 1

These expert tips, courtesy of leading child and family portrait photographer Karen Wiltshire of KW Photography, will help to ensure you create commemorative Father’s Day photographs like a pro.

Karen specialises in newborn, baby and family photography and operates from her studio in Poole, Dorset. She was the UK’s first ‘Craftsman of Children photography’ in the UK and the Guild of Photographers’ ‘Photographer of the Year’ 2013.

1. Use soft, directional lighting

Setup the lighting in advance so that you can focus entirely on the subjects during the shoot, and always use a light meter. If there is natural light, use voile [fabric] at the windows to soften the shadows.

Direct the light so that it falls onto the baby or child; the main subject of the photo. The light should be sideways on, falling across the subjects face.  I use a 3ft octobox softbox to create soft lighting patterns and use a 3’ stripbox as fill or accent lighting depending on the look I’m going for. Avoid flat lighting – it’s rarely flattering. Try for soft contouring light.

2. Pre-shoot preparation  

Advise your subject in advance about what clothes work well in front of the camera. Not all Dads feel comfortable taking their shirt off for a photo which is fine, although it’s lovely to get the skin on skin look, particularly with a newborn baby.

If clothes are worn, advise them to keep it simple. A plain white t-shirt is ideal, and a baby in a white babygro works well. Clothes should be free of logos and collars ideally and the Dad should remove his watch, wristbands and any jewellery, unless it is sentimental. This avoids dating the photograph and you having to potentially remove them in the editing phase later.

3. Natural posing

My preferred approach is more natural posed photography, whereby the subjects are as relaxed and comfortable as possible rather than being too ‘formally posed’. The photographer then has the opportunity to capture natural interaction between the father and the child. Lots of my parents do prefer to be directed though and feel much more relaxed being told what to do rather then “just stand there and smile”.

Encourage the Dad to stand comfortably so as not to fidget, and if holding a baby he should have a relaxed upper body and arms to avoid looking awkward. While the baby must be held securely, he should not be gripping the baby too tightly so the skin wrinkles. Be sure to make the room comfortably warm for the newborn.

My favourite Father and baby poses are 1) the baby held in the father’s hands, 2) the baby resting on the Dad’s shoulder with the dad standing side on, 3) the baby held in the crook of the Dad’s arm and 4) the baby lying in the Dad’s cupped hands with his legs against the Dad’s chest.

4. Have fun

Photos need not be serious, and a natural smile and the interaction between a smiling parent and child makes a great picture. If a child is older than newborn, the Dad should play with them to encourage the child to feel comfortable and to smile naturally.

Dads could crouch or lie down so his and the child’s head and shoulders are at the same height, or he could lift the child into the air. The photographer should also experiment taking photographs from different heights.

5. Post-production

For Father and child portraits I prefer black and white images which give great contrast and texture. A black and white treatment is also a great way of masking the different skin tones of the father and baby, as often newborn skin can be red, and it creates more of a fine art, classical feel.

Karen specialises in newborn, baby and family photography and operates from her studio in Poole, Dorset. She was the UK’s first ‘Craftsman of Children photography’ in the UK and the Guild of Photographers’ ‘Photographer of the Year’ 2013.

Karen Wiltshire 2

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