June 13, 2013

For awhile I’ve been thinking about putting together a series of “how-to” tutorials.  Realistically, while I’d love for clients to hire me every 3 months that is just not going to happen for most people. Making small tweaks in your technique can really improve your photos.


I love taking photos during the first year of a baby’s life.  They grow so quickly that sometimes the year goes by in a blur.  My daughter just turned 3 months old and I have lots of photos of her around the house so I wanted to do something different. Since I have a toddler, the setup had to be simple and using items I already own.  I know a lot of you don’t have a backdrop stand lying around so I provided a couple of alternatives in the tutorial.

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Backdrop stand
Seamless paper in Bone
2 clips
puppy dog pad


You really don’t need all of this.  The same setup can be created by just using a blanket or an inexpensive piece of cloth instead of seamless paper.  All you have to do is use the clips to secure the blanket or fabric to a couple of chairs. If you want to splurge, the seamless paper is only about $25 and can be bought anywhere (I buy mine at Calmut Photo or B&H). Don’t have a backdrop stand?  Just cut a piece of the paper and tape it to the wall.  Don’t have seamless paper? Use a large piece of fabric, sheet or a blanket instead as your backdrop. The clips can be purchased from any hardware store.  I use the clips on the backdrop stand to keep the paper from rolling and then use the tape to secure the paper to the floor.  I use painting tape so it didn’t leave any marks or residue on my floor.

Below is a general overview of my setup.  I apologize for the chair in my frame.  It was an afterthought to create this tutorial and this was the only photo I took.


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Before you set up your backdrop, assess your light situation.  For my setup, I wanted my daughter to be evenly lit so I setup my backdrop across from two large windows (See below).  It was a cloudy day so the light was already diffused but if your windows are providing too much light, try diffusing it by hanging up a sheer curtain.  Also, get creative with your light source.  Sometimes you might just need to open your front door.  Or, as unusual as it sounds use your garage.  With my setup, since it was a rainy day I knew that the light would be diffused and the light source would create beautiful catch lights.

My windows:

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What are catch lights?  They are the little sparkle in the eye that creates a life in our portraits (see below).

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When placing your subject, create some distance between the backdrop and your subject.  Notice where my daughter is laying in the above photo.


So pretty minimal work I have some adorable photos of my daughter.  Here is my SOOC (straight out of the camera) image:

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And, here is the final image, with a little editing:

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And, the final image with minimal edits in Photoshop:

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Camera Settings for above photos (they varied slightly during the session because the light kept changing): ISO 320 f/2.0  1/200 sec
Lens: 50mm

And, just because she is so cute here are a few more.

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That’s it!  I would love to see what you create!


Looking for a wedding or portrait photographer in the Boston, MA.  Contact me at bafphotography@gmail.com  I specialize in newborn, baby, family and wedding photography.  Also, I travel to Rochester, NY throughout the year.


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