Creating Joyous Outdoor Kid's Portraits | Capturing (Not Suppressing) The Joy Of Youth! | Paul Wilkinson | Skillshare

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Creating Joyous Outdoor Kid's Portraits | Capturing (Not Suppressing) The Joy Of Youth!

teacher avatar Paul Wilkinson, Portrait Photographer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Getting the best out of young children


    • 2.

      Shot 1: Alfie & Freddie on a garden step


    • 3.

      Shot 2: George under topshade


    • 4.

      Shot 3: Freddie running beside a hedge


    • 5.

      Shot 4: Alfie in his hoodie


    • 6.

      Shot 5: Three siblings on a garden lawn


    • 7.

      Shot 6: Three siblings on a bench


    • 8.

      Your Turn and Next Steps


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About This Class

How do you capture life, laughter and interesting images when working with children? Come behind-the-scenes with me on a shoot featuring 10-year-old George and his 6-year-old twin brothers, Alfie and Freddie. Watch how I capture six very different images: one of each of the boys alone, one of the twins, and two of all three siblings together.

On the day of our shoot, the light was rapidly shifting between harsh, direct sun and cloud cover. I explain how I deal with challenging conditions like these, using a reflector sometimes to add light on the face but at other times to create shade. You’ll also learn why I don’t recommend the circular, collapsible reflectors, as well the exact reflector I use on location and why.

We’ll cover framing, backgrounds, catchlights and getting the best out of children. You’ll see my images straight-out-of-the-camera (with the exposure settings I used) as well as my finished edits.

Paul and the MPP team

Meet Your Teacher

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Paul Wilkinson

Portrait Photographer


Paul is one of the UK's most sought-after portrait and wedding photographers - not just for his eye for an image but for the manner in which they are created (mostly laughing, always relaxed!)

His images have adorned numerous publications from the BBC to the Times and have won countless awards as well as giving him the accolade of Fellowship of the Master Photographers Association.

He and his team are based near Oxford in the UK though often you'll find him clutching his passport and his cameras as he creates images for people across the globe!

This class is brought to you by the Mastering Portrait Photography team!

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Level: Intermediate

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1. Getting the best out of young children: So how do you take beautiful pictures of Children in this video? We're going to go behind the scenes of a shoot where we're going to create the most beautiful pictures three small boys and show you all the techniques you need to do precisely that. I'm Paul Wilkinson from mastering portrait photography dot com, a website that's entirely dedicated to improving your portrait photography. I'm a full time, passionate professional portrait photographer. There's a lot of little peas in that, and I love it. This is what I do for a living. This particular video we're going to use top shade we're going to use frames were going to use corridors of light we're gonna photograph with Green is the background we gonna photograph with Dirty tiles is the background to create some interesting light we're gonna put cat fights in the eyes were gonna have the kids running. We're going have the kids sitting on all of this is what I do every day, and I so hope it works. But of course it will, because if you do with energy, viewed it with passion. If you do with enthusiasm, you too can create pictures just like this. I'm poor Wilkinson. On this is mastering portrait photography 2. Shot 1: Alfie & Freddie on a garden step: So shot number one. All I'm doing for a moment is getting a feel for how the boys react to each other, how they photographed, how they look, what the lights doing. We have been, as you always are in England. We've been a little bit chi brushed by the weather. It was due to be sunny or weakened in the last minute. The weather is broken and it's now intermittent wet, hot sun they go, the sun's come out on dark clouds. So we're trying to make our best of it. And so when you're working in these kind of situations, where you have to think about is what's the light doing right now? And then what happens if the light changes? So if you look at this shot, the construction of the image is only is a very low camera angles, and I'm going to slog through the Cem Green sort of little flowery things here and brushes . There's more here, and there's enough of a gap to get a line of sight through to where the boys are sitting here. And on top of that, I've got them neatly contained in a frame over here on If the sun comes back out, you'll see that there's flashes of sunlight on their hair, which isn't great. What I'm trying to do is eliminate that I want really nice. Even light on the boy's eso won't ask Emma to do. She just climbs up into the bushes behind, throw some shadows on the top. All I'm trying to do is eliminate as best I can. Any hot spots on the boys and make the light on them is even as possible. And that's it. That's what I'm trying to do now. What we have to do, of course, is create some smiles and create some pictures. 3. Shot 2: George under topshade: so onto shot number two. So we're photographing. George is a little bit older than his twin brothers, George's 10. His twin brothers are six. With a boy, it's like the older or go slightly older. I've got a little bit more control and a little bit more opportunity to pose them. But I still wanted to be natural, are still in it to be well lit the way Georges, he's quite tall is really good looking like the dimples in the cheeks, so we're going to try and capture some of that character. The reason we're using dislocation here is because there's a lot of shadow behind. We've talked about top shades quite a bit, and it is your photography go to safe place. If you can find a shape of a building, it's a bit like this. If you have nothing in the background at all, that's great. We have an opening like this. Of course, you get a little bit of light through as well. I'm looking for amazing cats, lights in his eyes because if I get that those cats like they're gonna make his eyes sparkle. I've posting very simply as loud stands. It just let him against the wall a little bit is folded his arms. But I could equally just put his hands in his pockets. What were they going to do? Is look at the lighting on his face. We're going to create some reactions if I shoot into this corner, the lighting in there compared to lighting on George's faces so much darker that it will almost go to black. I don't want it to go to black. I wanted to have a little bit of texture, a little bit of shape, a little bit of light, and it looks all the more sophisticated for it. If I need to drop it into black later, I can do it. So photo shopping trick. But I still rather have some texture in there. Now if I get the reflector from Emma, so this is a very simple one. It's two foot by three foot or something like that. It's called a California some bumps. The reason I use this over the flexible kind of time that just pops up is this stays rigid no matter what I do to it. Whereas holding on to one of the pop up reflectors from a corner, they tend to dip and change shape. That doesn't matter too much on a white surface. But it does matter on a silver site now with reflectors. If I'm going to use a silver reflector, you have to get the angle of instance, right? That should be striking you there. So you should see as I move that away and in he gets very bright and then very soft. You're going to see the whole of this surface lighting you because it's flat and even. Okay. So if I hold it badly and do this, you'll see that parts of that now are no longer working. Similarly, if you put a hand in the middle, parts of it will no longer be working. You don't do. That's why you always hold onto the handle and always just pop it nice and flat. Now, the white sided reflected these a different you shouldn't see on awful on a difference in the light being thrown at you no matter where I turn it. If I just turn this in fact, what you actually do? The white side. As you turn it towards the light, you don't try and bounce light in you just make this as bright as possible because it's a matt surface. The light striking it is gonna be reflected equally in all directions. The job when you're using a matt surfaces to simply pointed at your light source. So if I deformed this slightly, you should see the. Actually, the light over the surface doesn't change very much at all. If I did the same thing you see with silver Side and deform it, you'll see that light changes quite dramatically across the surface. And that's just the nature of reflective and non reflective surfaces. Right? The cats lights in George's eyes. Amazing, because I've got a big white sky over there behind where you, the viewer would be sitting but I'm gonna do is add a little bit of like. And if you look at that, so if I can use a silver site now, Silver site is a very powerful reflector. Effectively, the light coming in is coming up again. Not quite, but enough. So if you look at the cat sites in George's eyes, they're really, really strong and distinct. That's a really nice look. What you gonna be Careful off if you just lift your nose a little bit is you don't want the underneath of the nose to have more light on it. In the top, it was looks a bit weird. So what you do is you make sure your subject, the face has always pitched down a little bit, so you don't get to see under the chin and under the nose. Alternatively, I could use the white reflector. I pointed at the light source, which is essentially the sky, and I just drifted underneath. Now, this time you don't see a strong silver type reflecting the bottom of the I. You just see this beautiful dishing this beautiful shape which brings out the brown and the green under George's eyes. Nice, huh? And then we go do is make the little boy laugh, which is fairly easy. Just problem in the Reflector. It happens on its own. See llega con up himself 4. Shot 3: Freddie running beside a hedge: shot number free in this sequence of shots were going to use this little corridor of light down here. If you pay attention to little pockets of light like this, you can see some things. Firstly, it's light in the distance, dark in the middle, light at the front, The light of the front that striking Fred is just beautiful is coming from the right hand side on washing down on the left on site I've got essentially a great big subtract er is a hedge, but it's absorbing light. If you look at the shadows on for its face, you'll notice it's like this sideways the light source. But it's also quite dark. This site where the shadow or the rather there's no light reflected from the head in disgrace is dark and witness. Now, corridor like this is really useful, because if I get Fred to run towards me, then he's got nowhere else to be. You can zigzag all he likes, but broadly speaking is going to be in the middle of my friend. If you want kids running, this is a great place to do it, because if you do it out in the open on a field. Kids go like that. They go like that and you're constantly trying to track them. You can, of course, get them to run towards you. But you have a lot more control in a nice card or setting like this. Now I've got to set my camera up slightly differently for this shot. So I'm gonna shoot at thousands of a second. Why? Because I want to freeze the motion. In this instance, I think it'll be nicer that Fred is simply caught in absolute clarity during the shoot of thousands of a second. To do that. This is not particularly well lit. I only used high I. So probably 1600 maybe 2200 somewhere around there, aperture about 4.8 or 5.6 because I want a shallow depth of field. I don't want that detail in the background. I want this all to be about. Fret. So I'm using a fairly shallow depth of field, but enough to allow a little bit of wiggle room because he's going to be moving towards the camera, are going to use the server control so the server focus to continuous focus as he comes towards me. I'm gonna lock that on fire the shutter and I'm gonna put the shutter into repeat mode. Some of you will have cameras. It's called sport mode on mine. It's just on the continuous shooting high speed mode, which is this cameras about 10 frames a second. But I'm not going to shoot the whole way through its too dark back there anyway, anger away until Fred gets to this point where we stood right now and then the light washing in from this side will just make a gorgeous picture if you also look your latest, that Fred has the most beautiful blue eyes. So there's another shot I can do here, which is a simple one, which I get in just to look over his shoulder at May has a nice image on the shoot down onto these tiles. The tiles are reflecting light up underneath on. I think I think that will make a really, really beautiful image. And if you're the parent of a son like that, you wouldn't get to resist paying a small fortune for a beautiful picture of that on the world. Do you see what I did that I love my job? Hidden sales messages 5. Shot 4: Alfie in his hoodie: so me, my little friend here, we're doing short number four. Now for this. We're gonna photograph Alfa here on Alfie is proper cool. He's got his hoody on. It looks really nice. Great. He's got this magical quality to his skin into his eyes. And so what I really want to do is create a nice light around him. So here we are. If you look at the floor, I've got this beautiful gravel that's very, very light in color, and it's skipping light up into the eye. So I've got Alfie. He's got this incredible complexion. Beautiful tourney eyes. So I'm gonna try and create nice light around him. The sun is washing from the back and as you can see when the sun is out, is really strong now is getting gradually lower, but it's gonna create a nice rim around. So I've got his hood up because then I'm not backlighting his ears. But I've got this really nice shape around his face. I've got light here. I'm gonna have to light his face, though, because, as you can see at the moment is in shadow Simple trick that we're just gonna use a reflector. Same things we don't earlier silver site. We're gonna kick in a load of light. However, that's going to make Alfie squid. I know that because I was squinting when I tested it earlier. So what we'll do is get him to close his eyes on. All you do is start by looking at the camera closes ice. We like his face. I count to three. He opens his eyes, I hit the button and his eyes are open. He then close them again. That way his eyes are watering. They're not squinting. I'm gonna shoot at, I think F 2.8 I'm gonna open the lens up along the way. I'm shooting on my 72 202.8, which is my favorite lens or my go to lens to shoot this kind of stuff. I'm probably gonna zoom a long way in a 2.8. That means there's going to be almost no depth of field. The mask of Alfie's face will be clear. The eyelashes must be absolutely spot on in focus. There'll be a little bit of depth of field, but all of that greener in the background should go to a really rich green, just a wash. I'm also going to see if I can shoot through some off what looks like a rose me that's gone rampant there and that hopefully will create awash in front and around the sort of body of Alfie just around the edges of the frame. And with luck, with luck, that should create the most beautiful, gentle portrait of a really good looking little chap who's been very patient as we do this to slip. 6. Shot 5: Three siblings on a garden lawn: so onto shot number five. Now for this shot. We've come out into the lawn. This is my staple. Go to place if I just want to get a really nice group shot, that great. It's simple. It's easy to do. You can put energy into it on if you get the shot, right? Of course, it's something that could be bought and sold, so bought as a great big acrylic or frame on a wall. And at the end of the day is a professional photographers professional portrait photographer that is actually my job. So things to take notes from this scene. The light isn't ideal. And as you'll see even now, it's going from light to shade like to shade. So I'm going to try and capture the shot when the sun is out. Because I think the whole garden iridescence, however, is throwing some really nasty highlights onto the kids hair. So I'm gonna get Emma to throw some shadow using little reflector. Ideally, I'd have a much bigger reflector, but most people don't own them, so I show you what you could do with the simplistic it in terms off opposing. The Children are gonna try and make some form of a triangle. Now, the reason I found this shut appealing. This wasn't the shot I came out to do when the kids landed on the blanket. This is more or less how they started on. I just look at it. That's no a bad set up. It's probably better than what I had in my mind. And so I'm gonna work with that. Why'd you do it that way? Well, with kids you wanted to his natural you can. You still want the shot? You still want something that the parents are going to buy, so it's going to be staged. But you wanted to look natural on Riel. And if they're going to sit like that, that I'm just gonna finesse it little bit, create a nice shape in the frame, and then that should make a beautiful photograph camera position. I'm gonna put the camera as low down into the grasses Aiken get. And even if it means I get a soaking so bit, Why? Because if I get the camera down low, it will minimize what I can see of the blanket. I don't want the blanket in shot. It's there just to keep the kids reason we dry. It's been raining all morning on the grass is soaking, so I really don't want them soaking at the same time. But the best way of getting rid of that is either Photoshopped, which is tricky or simply. I put the camera so low down in the grass that the front of the grass, the blades aggressive, immediate in front of the camera form a natural, a natural barrier to seeing the blanket, and that's how we're going to do it. Then all I have to do is create a little bit of energy, create a bit of fun, and I think we've got a glorious picture of three lovely kids that their parents will not be able to resist buying. 7. Shot 6: Three siblings on a bench: onto shot number six of what will be the final set. We've come down here because I've got this beautiful scene in the distance. I try to do another shot and it didn't work. Why didn't it work? Because I could not get the light right that I've got the set up. I've got beautiful tree. I've got everything right except the lighting's awful and end the day for lightings. Awful. Why bother? So I've moved the shot somewhere where I've got a little bit of a scene off with most construction and most importantly, the light is acceptable. I've posed the boys so that they are three distinct characters. I haven't put the two twins together. I've put George in the middle, but I've kept him low. I've put Fred higher up because I think actually, that's interesting. Just have some shape to the shot. Opposed each of them in their own way, based on the characters and the way they seem to be, too May so that it feels relaxed, but it still feels natural in my head. I've got this sort of. I guess it be like a catalogue shop for clothing or something like that. Blue trainers anything doesn't really matter. Something that just looks really, really cool on the shot. If you look at the framing, I've got a really tall tree here. I've got sort of I don't know what you call it, a leafy bush. What is a proper description for that? The guard. This will kill me for not knowing what that is based acting is a frame and all of this funnels of you as I straight into the middle where the three boys are sitting. What I'm gonna do is only get the camera incredibly low into the grass. Because that way I get really nice, very plainer view, you know, from previous videos that I like my camera angles mostly to be pretty horizontal. And by putting the camera that low in this distance, the camera is essentially horizontal, pointing straight at the boys. And you get this wonderful washer green in the foreground. None of the detail of the flagstones, the viewers attention should, in theory, being drawn straight to the three boys. Then what we're gonna do is mess around a bit, get a little bit interaction, a little bit of energy, a lot of laughter, hopefully on a beautiful portrait of free great kids. The summer garroted 8. Your Turn and Next Steps: So there you have it. Six different frames. Three boys, One fundamental point that it's easy if you have energy. If you haven't I for the light. If you have some ideas and some creativity and you actually make people laugh, you can create pictures that are just as energetic on just as much fun as these. Have bean on that note. Please. We would love to see your work. We love it. We always comment on the work that you upload. Please upload your files to the your projects down below so that we can have a look and other people can enjoy your creativity. Tubes were very, well, me being in front of the camera, but actually it's great to see what other people are up to. If you fancy it, have a hop across to mastering portrait photography dot com, which is rich with videos like This is the home of the podcast. There are forums. There are articles Q and A's critiques. Whatever you like, get involved, have a good time and enjoy your portrait photography. We would love to see you again soon. Take care so onto shot number two to Hunter Shop on to the next shot like a remote control toys. You It's Yeah, they're filming. All right, Right, right, right. People sound like the kind of my wife would say You need to go to the gym pool.