100% Jack


Clinton-Il-Child-Portrait-Jack
Jack-6776-Edit.jpg, a photo by Jeffrey Jones on Flickr.

Seeing this photo, one might think it was staged. It wasn’t. One might think Jack was showing how tough he was. But he wasn’t. Other than me positioning him in that spot, this was 100% Jack. When I get him talking, who knows what sort of actions and postures he will take? Something happens once you engage a person in conversation, the defenses drop and physical habits come back out from hiding.

Lets talk a little bit about the technical side of this picture. Notice the sunset behind the boy. Normally this means that without some action on the part of the photographer, the front side of the subject will be under lit….dark you might say. There are two ways to get around this. The first is to use a flash. And while I could have done that, I chose a simpler method for creating fill light, I chose to bounce it. Professionals often use panels of white, silver or gold to reflect (or bounce) sunlight back at the subject but since I had no assistant, that was a luxury not available at the time. Instead, I used a garage door. Because it was white, it made a great reflector. Note, in order to get enough light on the boy, he had to be very close to the door, and me, the photographer, even closer.

One problem with using bounced light at sunset is that the light is very orange/red, which creates a strong color cast on the subject. If this photo was intended to be a magazine ad, or an editorial, this would be a problem. But since this is simply a fun photo, who cares?

So, what are the takeaways?
•To get kids into fun poses and expressions, get them talking.
•When shooting a subject whose back is against as strong light source, you need fill light.
•Large white object make great reflectors. It doesn’t’ have to be a garage door, it could be a wall or even sheets on a clothes line.


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