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When you photograph kids and families, "you're recording a piece of history," says renowned photographer Douglas Kirkland in Douglas Kirkland on Photography: Photographing Kids and Families. In this course, Douglas discusses the art of photographing kids ranging from toddlers to preteens, both alone and together with parents and siblings. As he photographs close friends and family members, Douglas discusses the use of ambient light as well as LED fill light, and demonstrates shooting techniques in both informal and studio settings.
(music playing) Susan and Jane, her daughter, arrived. Susan is a very beautiful woman, and she has this wonderful child she adopted from Shanghai. And I thought to myself, I'd like to make a mother and daughter picture. I keep trying to find new places in this home we live in. The more you can do in one place, in any photographic work, the better you are. I mean, I used to shoot fashion. We would find, if we'd go to one location and do a day's work, we'd be much better off than running in to twenty-nine places, because you get it done.
(video playing) In an area like this, there were certain things I wanted. I knew I wanted an out-of-focus background. I didn't have a large space, so by going to a longer lens, we get less of the background, and it's fuzzier because of the less depth of field. So I ended up shooting at 3200, and I shot wide open. I shot at f/4. And I was shooting at, I believe, a 90th of a second at that combination. I didn't have them just look at the camera. I wanted them looking at each other.
You're making a beautiful painting or something. That's what you're doing with your camera. Have the white panel ready please. Thank you! Good! Do you have the 85 on it? Make it really weak. I decided at one point, maybe I needed a tweak of what we call fill light. Ways you can do that are you can use a reflector, if there is something to reflect. Some people might use a flash. You can use a flash; it's very delicate and difficult.
And there is an even better and simpler solution if you have this available. We call them Litepanels One by One, and it's an LED system, with a dial in the back, and it works beautifully for this delicate type of available light, because you just dial in a small amount. I want to mention one word that's very important, femininity. That's what we have here: a child and a mother. It was a delicacy of the warm lighting and the tropical background.
(video playing) Jane's best friend is Carolina, who is a niece of ours. They love to giggle together and put their heads together. They're always together.
I wanted to show that closeness, and so what I did is my vision was, if they could sit on the floor and face each other in profile, even if it's a profile, you want to be able to see that face, always the eyes if you can. When you have only so many places you can work, make the most out of all of them. I'm asking myself questions as I go along. I don't know precisely where I have to go, but I know what works and what doesn't.
Carolina has this beautiful red raincoat. She wore it when she arrived here, and it was almost too warm for it when she arrived, but she is so proud of it. So I felt it was very important, frankly, to make somewhat of almost a fashion statement. You need simplicity in the background. I'm going to fuzz it out. You're helped by the long lens wide open, but you also have to have as much simplicity as possible. Oscar, our cat, happened to be sitting on the chair right beside them.
(video playing) Respond to what is with you, what is in the air, what is in the location. Now, another completely different situation was I had to figure out what to do with Lucas, my nephew.
Lucas is seven. He has unlimited energy. He will be dancing at midnight if you don't ask him to please go to bed, Lukey. We call him Luky, but it's really Lucas. I wanted to give him a specific prop, and so what I did is I just got a chair. That would give him a reference point, a place to be, and that's very, very important, as they know where home is. At first I didn't have any light at all. I was just using the light from the skylight, but it looked a little flat, so we brought in, again, the Litepanel, because we could just get a little twinkle in the eye, which I love.
And then I knew I had to find some way of bringing him to life. (video playing) I saw his brother Maxey was over at the side. Maxey is now 12.
I thought, you know what I need? I need the boys together. (video playing) Some teachers in some schools say, have your specialty, do only one thing. Not for me, and it's been very good to me, doing all types of work.
That's why, as I get on in years, we still keep very busy, because it's all a joy. It's all a new challenge, and that's the excitement about photography, and kids and families are clearly a part of that.
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