focal length: 32mm
shutter speed: 1/125
aperture: f/3.2
ISO: 400
flash: fired

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to have tagged along to meet some local professional photographers at a studio they reserved for some shoots. It was at the Ironworks in Vancouver, an incredibly delicious old building with so much texture, colour and fun! My daughter had a ball playing and also had her picture taken too. Although this was a very informal, impromptu shoot, I still managed to get a nice studio-type portrait of her. It looks like a very simple, natural-light image but I actually had four light sources going on here.

Here’s my setup:

*created with PSD by Kevin Kertz. Download the PSD here.

I had both my flashes set at low power since the window light was really the key lighting. The SB-600 was pointing towards the background just to lighten it up a bit and create a bit of separation from the subject. The SB-800 acted as the commander and triggered the SB-600, which was off-camera on the ground. I believe I had the SB-800 (on-camera) pointing to the right just to add some more reflected fill light. The reflector (kindly held up by another photographer), catching the window light, added just the right amount of fill to the shadows on the right side of her face.

White balance was set on auto and I didn’t even have to adjust it in processing. The flash warmed up the scene. I know this because the images I took with the flashes off were much cooler in temperature. I processed this in Lightroom but made minimal changes. Just a little more contrast and a soft, very subtle vignette (most of the vignette was natural due to the lighting).

I took several shots in this series and this one was my favourite. I like her placid expression and curled in feet. Looking at the image, you’d think it was easy for me to sit her there and take my shot, but in actuality, I had to let her get onto the box herself and pose on her own because she doesn’t like to be forced to do anything. Taking repeated exposures really helped to get this one, nice shot.

Photographing children is always challenging because they don’t pose like adults do, if you ask. Sometimes, to get the most natural look, you just have to let them play and do their own thing, while we keep our finger on the shutter release, ready to capture that split second when it all falls into place.

Laura is a Vancouver wedding and portrait photographer. Visit