I always like to speak with my clients before each photo session to get an idea of what they are looking for and how we can work together to create amazing memories for their family.
For this session, the parents let me know that they wanted a shoot of their 2 young daughters with a combination of traditional images (both together and individual) as well as a composite for each child.
We spoke first about the traditional images. I always like to ask parents questions such as what color palate they have in their home (which helps with outfit suggestions) as well as where they would like to hang the images, so that we can discuss size as well as groupings. This way, I can keep it in mind while shooting, what types of posing/scenery etc I will be doing. For example some parents may want to fill their space with one large canvas of all of the children, or prefer smaller images grouped together. If they prefer the grouping, then I will be sure to shoot each child in a similar pose with the same background scenery for a more cohesive final look to their wall art.
Next, we discussed the creative composite images that we would be shooting. Often times, parents have no idea what they would like, and other times, they know exactly what they are looking for. In this instance, we decided to ask the children their thoughts. As one of the girls was very into unicorns and then other had a love for cat woman, we decided to run with those themes and make them as unique as the child starring in them.
In this blog, I want to focus on the cat woman composite. Because I did not know much about cat woman, I decided to do a little research before hand. (You’ll find often times that children will request some character that you have never heard of, or aren’t very familiar with. Be sure to ask them tons of questions and do your research!) There’s nothing worse than adding the wrong color to a light saber haha!
Some things that popped out at me during my cat woman quest were “city” “night” “dynamic lighting” “tough attitude” “dramatic coloring” and “illustrated feel.” These really helped when planning it all out in my head. I also sent the family a few posing images before the session so that they could practice with her and she would be more comfortable and prepared during the shoot. I also sent the family a few links to costumes that I knew would work well for the image and let them decide which one to order.
Once we finished up our traditional portion of the shoot, the children changed into their costumes and we got started shoot our base images for the composites. I knew that I would want to extract cat woman and add in an entirely new background, so I looked for solid ground to shoot her on and some nice back lighting that would flow well with the city lighting that I had planned to add in later.
We shot a few different poses because I always like to have options when I am choosing my stock images. I had picked out a few pieces of stock before the session so that I had an idea of what angle I wanted to shoot her at, but sometimes in post I change my mind about the stock, so the more images and angles that you have of your subject, the better.
Once the shoot was finished, it was time to start the culling and editing process. I decided to go with one of the more powerful poses that we had done, in which she had a tough/strong expression on her face. At this point, I incorporated some of the stock that I had already chosen and then decided to head to a few of my favorite stock sites for the rest. Adobe stock, Pixelsquid, Nobacks and Deviant art were the sites that I chose. I was having a difficult time finding the right building ledge angle and perspective that I needed, so I decided to shoot an image of my own fireplace mantle for that stock piece. I really liked the texture that it gave and was able to choose my own focal point and perspective, so that it always helpful. I also used a moon stock piece that I had shot earlier in the week while on vacation.
Once I had extracted and placed my stock onto a new document along with my main subject, it was just a matter of a few individual adjustments in lighting and color tones. Some blurring for depth of field and a bit of dodge and burn on the main subjects. I finished it all off with global edits of color toning and lighting to blend it all together and complete the composite.
I had such an amazing experience photographing these young ladies. Halloween is always one of the most exciting holidays for my portrait sessions. If you'd like to learn with a like-minded community, we have a Facebook Group. If you're serious about learning children's portraiture and compositing fantasy worlds, I encourage you to join my tribe and learn with me. Click to learn more.