Childrens photography courses, behind the scenes

Childrens photography courses 2016

Last year I began running a number of UK childrens photography courses and thought I would share a before and after edit of one of the images I took on one of the dates at Tunbridge Wells.  I find seeing other photographers before and after images very inspiring and I myself like to understand why they made the decisions that they did when shooting.


Camera settings

The image below was taken on my Canon 5diii with the Canon 70-200 2.8L (If you are considering upgrading to a 5diii see my friend Phil’s excellent review of the camera here).  I was shooting at 200mm at 2.8 as I like to have as much separation between my subject and the background as possible.  I aim to keep my shutter speed above 1/500 as this lens is so heavy and I toggle my focus points and use back button focusing.  If you would like to see a comparison of my favourite 4 Canon Lenses (200 2.0L, 135 2.0L, 70-200 2.8L & 100 2.8L then visit here)


Step by Step Process


1. Light


With all my images, the first decision I make is based around light. I am looking for interesting light which adds dimensionality and contrast.  This shot was taken at 6pm and the sun was coming in and out of the clouds. As we were heading towards golden hour the colour of the light has begun to warm up.   Rather than place the child into position to take a test shot I kindly asked ( i,e. roped in ) one of my workshop attendees to step in. This way I could see how the shot looked on the back of camera and to decide how I would expose for the subject.
As the sun was coming in very clearly from top left, I needed to make sure I was exposing for her skin to ensure I had no blown highlights. With the test shot taken, I then put our model into position.
Golden hour test shot

2. Composition


Now I had my settings ,and I had taken a test shot for the lighting and exposure, I was looking for a composition that I was happy with.
This was the first test shot with the model, and I liked her being on the far right third looking into the light.  On reviewing the shot I saw that straight away I wanted to change the shot so the fence was not cutting through her head.
childrens photography courses

3. Adjustments


Rather than move the model (who was stood in quite a boggy area so I needed to be careful that she didn’t sink) I moved myself ever so slightly higher to change the relative angle of myself to the fence.
Immediately I preferred the composition and at this stage I am starting to think ahead of how I am planning to edit the shot in photoshop.
composition in childrens photography

4. Edit


I begin all my edits with a “clean edit” where I check my white balance, make any highlight or shadow adjustments, and remove any small distractions from the shot. You can see that I have removed some white spots from along the fence and a couple of the long pieces of grass which were in front of her dress. I also look to remove any colour casts from my subject which are usually greens in the shadows bouncing up from the ground.


Once my base edit is complete I then look to see how I can create more impact with colour and also building on the light which we had straight out of camera. As it was quite a warm evening, and my model was in a summer dress, my immediate thought when it came to editing was to warm the overall image up. I often use bold and rich greens in my photography but I prefer to do this in the winter, so I planned to add more golden orange and red tones to the image. One of my go to tools for adjusting colour in images is to use the selective colour layer in Photoshop. This tool allows you to change one colour at a time in the image and in this instance I selected the green and yellow and changed the CMYK values to deliver the colour I was looking for.


Below is my final before and after image. I hope you have found this blog post of use.

before and after edit in photoshop

Workshops & Training

To see a full list of my 2016 outdoor children photography workshops please visit here . I also now offer 1-2-1 Business & Marketing mentoring and in person editing sessions. On these sessions we work together to understand what your editing strategy is and how to develop a visual style which makes your work recognisable. You can also see some behind the scenes images from my children’s photography workshop in Milton Keynes in March.